A major interfaith community event is back by popular demand! On Sunday, March 1, at 4:00 p.m., Bat Yam Temple of the Islands will present another memorable musical program that will include liturgical music, light classics, pop songs, Broadway hits, and sing-a-longs. This free concert will be held in the SCUCC sanctuary. 


The performers will be led by Bat Yam Cantor Murray Simon, who will once again be joined by Pastor John H. Danner of SCUCC and Cantor Elizabeth Shammash of Tiferet Bet Israel in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. Performing for the first time will be Cantor Rachel Brook of Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City.


As they perform solos, duets and in ensembles, the three cantors  and the pastor will be accompanied by two pianists, Abbey Allison and Toby Simon, as well as other musicians.


A reception following the concert will give concertgoers an opportunity to socialize with each other and the performers.


Last year, Three Cantors and a Pastor played to a packed house, so plan to arrive early. 


While there are no admission tickets, there will be a music appreciation offering. There are also sponsorship opportunities, which include priority seating at the event and acknowledgment in the program booklet. Sponsorship levels are Bronze ($50-$99), Silver ($100-$249), Gold ($250-$499), Platinum ($500-$999), and Premier Platinum ($1,000 and above.)  Sponsorship checks can be mailed to Bat Yam Temple of the Islands, P.O. Box 84, Sanibel FL 33957. For further information, email co-chair Judith Adler at jfadler@aol.com. 


Mark your calendar for March 1 and save the date for a wonderful afternoon of fabulous music and interfaith fellowship!  

                                                  Judith Adler and Howard Lorsch

                                                     Concert Co-Chairs

February 2020  
Sh'vat/Adar 5780




     Bat Yam was founded 29 years ago as a place for resident and visiting Jews to come together as an extended Jewish family, to participate in Shabbat and holiday prayer, to observe the rituals of our shared faith, and to study and derive meaning from our tradition and texts. While Bat Yam is a Reform congregation, our members come from all Jewish denominations and backgrounds.


    Over this quarter century, Bat Yam has become a unique adult congregation, whose membership is blessed with the leisure and good fortune to choose participation in renewed Jewish life.  We have raised our families; have watched children (and grandchildren . . . and, even, some great grandchildren!) become Bar or Bat Mitzvah; and have participated as leaders and active members in our prior synagogues.


    Now, at Bat Yam, we together participate in Judaism through this lens of a life’s worth of experience and insight. For some of us, this means reconnecting to our Judaism in deeper ways.  For others, this means coming to Judaism anew.  For all of us, Bat Yam provides an opportunity to explore Judaism with new eyes and hearts and with the enthusiasm of experience.


   We are an egalitarian Reform synagogue, that is fully welcoming of all.  Our programs are religiously engaging, intellectually stimulating, and filled with philosophical and moral introspection.  Our members are involved in Jewish, interfaith and non-Jewish issues and activities in the immediate and larger communities. 


  If you can’t be physically present, join our Jewish community through this website. You will see and experience some of our services, celebrations and educational workshops. We hope you can join us in prayer, learning and community.



All February Shabbat services will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be held in the SCUCC Sanctuary. They will be led by Rabbi Stephen Fuchs, with Cantor Murray Simon chanting the prayers, accompanied by pianist Abigail Allison. 


February 7, 14*, 21, 28 


*During the February 14 Shabbat service, Drs. Don Bachman and Michael Raab, who have been diligently studying with Rabbi Fuchs for several months, will read the Ten Commandments from the Torah. Then, in lieu of a formal sermon, they will interact with Rabbi Fuchs about the meaning and implication for our lives today about these central teachings of our tradition.

Rabbi Fuchs Reflects


With all the horrible things going on in our world, especially the sharp spike in anti-Semitic incidents in recent months, it is time for Jews to show the world we are proud of who we are.


All of my life I have been grateful that our American constitution guarantees freedom of religion. But I also embraced the fact that it guarantees “freedom from religion.” 


While Jewish religious thought and ritual mean everything to me, I have always understood that there are many Jews who are not religiously observant and have no desire to become so.


Many Jews purposely choose to come to this part of Florida precisely because it is easier to blend in to the mainstream of life here without overtly practicing their heritage. I always felt their choice to be non-observant was as valid for them as my choice to be observant is for me … until now. In these perilous times, I find myself putting the question to my non- observant acquaintances that I never felt the need to ask before. It is the same question that Mordecai, through the courtier Hatach, put to Queen Esther:  Who knows if you have not come to be where you are for just such a time as this. (Esther 4:14)


At first Mordecai -- as we will reenact in our Purim presentation on Monday, March 9, at 7:00 p.m. -- encourages Esther not to reveal her heritage when she becomes the King’s bride. In the face of Haman’s anti-Semitic threat to destroy us, though, he tells her, now is the time to reveal yourself and stand with your people against the existential threat to our freedom that has arisen.


Now is such a time for all of us.  


So, if you know Jews who have not yet affiliated with Bat Yam and who do not come to either services or our classes, I encourage you: now is the time to invite and encourage them.


We Jews cannot control the actions of misguided or deranged people who perpetrate antiJewish hate. But we can control our response. Now is not the time for Jews to remain in the closet. It is the time to stand proudly as Jews.


Throughout history, beginning with Pharaoh in Egypt through Hitler a generation ago, many tyrants have risen to try to destroy us. Many have been the threats to our lives and comfort level in society. None of them have succeeded. But the biggest ally of anti-Semitism is our own indifference to the precious heritage that is ours. Now is the time to stand up and be counted with pride as a Jew.


Stephen Fuchs

stephenlfuchs@gmail.com  www.rabbifuchs.com twitter: @rabbifuchs6


I invite you to follow my blog at www.findingourselvesinbiblicalnarratives.com

(Please note: my website (www.rabbifuchs.com) has a Bat Yam tab that leads to a number of wonderful photos of some events that took place during the past season, including my summer activities in Germany.) 



Rabbi Stephen Fuchs will speak about his newest book, "And Often the First Jew", at the Sanibel Public Library on Monday, February 24, at 10:00 a.m. He will also appear at a Meet the Author event sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Lee and Charlotte Counties on Wednesday, March 25, at 6 p.m. The Federation session, during which a light dairy dinner will be served, will be at 9701 Commerce Center Court in Fort Myers. The event is free and open to the community. RSVP for this event at 239-481-4449 or via email at debbiesanford@jfedlcc.org. 


In And Often the First Jew, Rabbi Fuchs discusses his speaking engagements over the past five years in more than two dozen German churches, during which he has been for many worshippers the first Jew they have ever seen. His aim in those sermons and lectures is to help Germans come to grips with the enormity of the Holocaust with an eye toward creating a better future. His father, Leo, was arrested in his native city of Leipzig on Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938. He was released from Dachau not long thereafter and came to the United States. Although his father never spoke of that horrible night, his experience has had a profound effect on Rabbi Fuchs’ life and career.




Join Rabbi Fuchs on Thursday mornings from February 6 through March 26, from 10:3011:45 a.m. in Fellowship Hall, to study in depth his book, What's in It for Me: Finding Ourselves in Biblical Narratives. The book is available from Amazon in either paperback or Kindle editions. There are also some copies available from Rabbi Fuchs.


Participants should read the relevant chapter before each class and come with questions and comments. The sessions will resemble a seminar format rather than formal lectures. SCUCC members are also welcome.


A memorable musical program of light classics, Broadway and pop tunes…and much more!

Followed by a reception to meet the soloists and enjoy refreshments

  Bat Yam  

     Temple of the Islands

A Reform Jewish Congregation 

presents the return of 




Cantor Murray E. Simon

Bat Yam


Cantor Rachel Brook

Park Avenue Synagogue

New York, N.Y.

Cantor Elizabeth Shammash

Tiferet Bet Israel

Blue Bell,PA.

Rev. Dr. John H. Danner

Sanibel Congregational


Sunday, March 1, 2020 - 4 P.M.



The Bat Yam annual membership meeting will take place on Thursday, March 26 at 6 p.m. in Fellowship Hall, preceded by a potluck dinner. Business will include voting on candidates for officers and trustees of Bat Yam (with required prior notice given to the congregation) as well as discussion of the budget for the upcoming year.  Watch for additional information.





. Sunday, February 2, 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.  - Pulpit Exchange with SCUCC – Rabbi Fuchs delivers sermon at SCUCC worship services


Thursdays, February 6 to March 26 – Rabbi Fuchs’ classes on What’s in it For Me?


Sunday, February 9, 6 p.m., TuB’Shevat celebration


Sunday, February 23, 2 p.m. – film “My Polish Honeymoon “(Jewish Film

Festival) at Fellowship Hall, SCUCC

. Monday, February 24, 10 a.m. – Rabbi Fuchs’ book talk at Sanibel Library on And Often the First Jew

. Sunday, March 1, 4 p.m. – Three Cantors and a Pastor concert at sanctuary of the SCUCC

. Monday, March 9, 7 p.m. – Purim celebration

. Wednesday, March 25, 6 p.m. – Rabbi Fuchs’ book discussion at Federation about And Often the First Jew

. Thursday, March 26, 6 p.m. – Bat Yam annual membership meeting

. Wednesday, April 8, 6 p.m. - Bat Yam Seder




Reverend John Danner will deliver the sermon at Shabbat services on January 31 as part of the SCUCC/Bat Yam pulpit exchange. His sermon topic will be “Out of Darkness.” Rabbi Fuchs will deliver the sermon at the SCUCC worship services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on February 2nd as the conclusion of the pulpit exchange. His topic will be “The Violent World of the Sport We Love Most.”

From the Cantor
From the President

Recently, I attended a community-wide commemorative program on Kristallnacht at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in North Naples. Our rabbi, Stephen Fuchs, was the keynote speaker. He gave a very eloquent and moving presentation, highlighting the brutalizing treatment suffered by his father that night, after which he was sent to Dachau, released and eventually arrived in the United States. I was also proud that fourteen members of Bat Yam travelled to the church to bear witness to the very somber



But Kristallnacht is not just about the attacks on Jews on that terrible night. Some historians have called it the beginning of the Holocaust. It also tragically symbolizes the failure of most of the world, especially the United States, to take in asylum-seeking refugees who faced clear persecution and death by being forced to remain in Europe. Only six months after Kristallnacht, the MS St. Louis with its hundreds of Jewish refugees was refused entry into the United States and forced to return to Europe, in spite of the words welcoming refugees that grace the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.


It is well worth remembering the woman who penned those words with which she has become so well identified and about whom I recently spoke at a Temple Bat Yam morning class. Emma Lazarus, the descendent of many generations of Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews, wrote her famous sonnet after being asked to do so for a fundraiser for the construction of the Statue of Liberty in New York City in 1882.  


“…Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me…” are probably the most famous lines in the sonnet. Although her words were in a real sense a call to America to welcome all refugees, she was greatly influenced by the pogroms in Russia that exploded after the assassination of Czar Alexander II in March of 1881. These horrendous attacks resulted in a large number of Russian Jews fleeing to escape to America, arriving in New York City at the rate of 2,000 every month (but severely limited when Congress later imposed quotas aimed at Jews and other immigrants, beginning with the passage of the Emergency Quota Act in 1921). For the rest of her short life (she died in 1887 at the age of 38), Emma Lazarus spoke out for many of those refugees, trying to get them better living conditions in the temporary refugee shelters housing them in New York and fighting for job training and education for them so they could become contributing citizens. The peak year of European immigration was in 1907, when 1,285,349 persons entered the country.  


At Temple Bat Yam, it is fitting that our Social Action Committee is engaging with agencies in Lee County to help provide support to new refugees. Emma Lazarus’ words live on, despite the current attacks in the United States on those, “the homeless tempest-tost,” fleeing danger and persecution, “yearning to breathe free.”  And as our rabbi constantly reminds us, it is a Jewish imperative to welcome the stranger.


                                                                                               L’Shalom,                                                                                                                 Barry Fulmer

                                                                                                President, Bat Yam

Dear Friends,


I would like to introduce you to some of the composers who have created the musical selections we will be performing in the March 1 concert at Bat Yam, THREE CANTORS AND A PASTOR. Can you find a thread among the composers?  (Hint: it’s in bold in the descriptions.)


HAROLD ARLEN – born Hyman Arluck (February 15, 1905 - April 23, 1986) was an American composer of popular music who composed over 500 songs, a number of which have become known worldwide. In addition to composing the songs for the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” (lyrics by Yip Harburg), including “Over the Rainbow,” Arlen is a highly regarded contributor to the Great American Songbook. Harold Arlen’s father was a cantor.


IRVING BERLIN – born Israel Isadore Beillin (May 11, 1888 - September 22, 1989) was an American composer and lyricist, widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in American history. His music forms a great part of the Great American Songbook. Born in Imperial Russia, Berlin arrived in the United States at the age of five. He published his first major international hit, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” in 1911. It is commonly believed that Berlin could not read sheet music and was such a limited piano player that he could only play in the key of F-sharp using his custom piano equipped with a transposing lever. Irving Berlin’s father was a cantor.


LEONARD BERNSTEIN – (August 25, 1918 - October 14, 1990) was an American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the U.S. to receive worldwide acclaim. According to music critic Donal Henahan, he was "one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history.”


AARON COPLAND – originally “Kaplan” (November 14, 1900 - December 2, 1990) was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and later a conductor of his own and other American music. Copland was referred to by his peers and critics as "the Dean of American Composers." 


MEIR FINKELSTEIN – (born 1951) is a cantor and composer of contemporary Jewish liturgical music. He has composed more than 200 settings for the liturgy. as well as scored numerous television programs, made-for-TV movies, and documentary films. His tunes are sung in many congregations. He is considered one of the most popular contemporary Jewish liturgical composers in the United States. Cantor Meir Finkelstein’s father was a cantor.


GEORGE GERSHWIN – born Jacob Bruskin Gershowitz (September 26, 1898 - July 11, 1937) was an American composer and pianist whose compositions spanned both popular and classical genres. Among his best-known works are the orchestral composition “Rhapsody in  Blue” (1924) and “An American in Paris” (1928); the songs “Sewanee” (1919) and “Fascinating Rhythm” (1924); the jazz standard “I Got Rhythm” (1930); and the opera “Porgy and Bess” (1935), which spawned the hit “Summertime”.


JACQUES OFFENBACH – (June 20,1819 - October 5,1880) was a German-French composer, cellist and impresario of the romantic period. He is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s-1870s and his uncompleted opera “The Tales of Hoffman.” His best-known works were continually revived during the 20th century, and many of his operettas continue to be staged in the 21st.  Jacques Offenbach’s father was a cantor.


SHOLOM SECUNDA – (September 4, 1894 - June 13, 1974) was an American composer of Ukrainian-Jewish descent. In January 1908, the family emigrated to New York where young Sholom became a noted child cantor. Secunda was one of the "big four" composers of his era in New York City’s Second Avenue National Theater (Yiddish theater) scene.  In 1932 he wrote the melody for the popular song “Bei Mir Bist du Sheyn,” which later became a major hit for the Andrews Sisters.


KURT WEILL – (March 2, 1900 - April 3, 1950) was a German-Jewish composer, active from the 1920s in his native country, and in his later years in the United States. He was a leading composer for the stage, best known for his fruitful collaborations with Bertolt Brecht. With Brecht, he developed productions such as his best-known work, “The Threepenny Opera.” Weill held the ideal of writing music that served a socially useful purpose.  He also wrote several works for the concert hall.  Kurt Weill’s father was a cantor.


Did you find this interesting?  I am so looking forward to seeing you at the concert on March 1.  I hope you will enjoy it.


Cantor Murray E. Simon