December 2019 - January 2020 
Kislev/Sh'vat 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 December and January  services will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall at SCUCC and will be led by Rabbi Stephen Fuchs, with Cantor Murray Simon chanting the prayers, accompanied by pianist Abigail Allison.


December services will be held in Fellowship Hall but check Bat Yam email communications to see if january services will be held in fellowship hall or the SCUCC sanctuary.

December 6, 13 (Tzedakah Shabbat)*, 20, 27

January 3, 10, 17 (sermon by guest Rabbi Paul Citrin), 24, 31


*Rabbi Fuchs will share the special Tzedakah song he wrote (not to be missed) and will speak about Tzedakah in his sermon. The women of the Tzedakah Committee will participate in the service and provide the Oneg Shabbat. 

Rabbi Fuchs Reflects




Our caring and erudite president Barry Fulmer sent a wonderful E-blast to the congregation regarding our service for the Shabbat during Sukkot, which was based on the book of Ecclesiastes. In his letter, Barry included a quotation from Thomas Wolfe’s posthumously published novel You Can’t Go

Home Again. I had never read this American classic, and since I was soon to “go home again” to the first congregation I served, Temple Isaiah in Columbia, Maryland, I decided I should. 


We left Columbia for Nashville in 1986. I served the congregation for thirteen years as its first full-time rabbi. Since they were beginning to celebrate their fiftieth year, they had invited Vickie and me back for a weekend to begin a yearlong series of celebratory events.


I didn’t realize how long the Wolfe book was, but in the beginning of chapter six, I found the perfect quotation to use as the introduction for my Friday night sermon. When after traveling the world, Wolfe’s protagonist, George Webber, returned to his boyhood home of Libya Falls (Asheville in disguise), North Carolina, for the funeral of the aunt who had raised him, he felt as I felt returning to speak at Temple Isaiah after thirty-three years: “Something far, near, strange, and so familiar, and it seemed to him as though he had never left … and all that had passed in the years was like a dream.”


When the invitation from Temple Isaiah came well over a year ago, I was delighted to accept, but I wondered, who would remember us? Who will care and who will come? To our delight, the place was packed, and many of those in attendance were students from years ago with whom I had studied for Bar or Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation. Some had traveled from as far as Rochester, NY, Boston, New York City and North Carolina to be there. It was a joy to see them and have some share the lessons from their B’nai Mitzvah portions as they fit into my teaching session on Shabbat morning.


Then on Saturday evening, the present and past presidents of the synagogue hosted Vickie and me for dinner in a private room of a lovely restaurant. After the meal, the presidents took turns sharing nice memories they had of us. With one exception, they did not speak about High Holy Day sermons or other “public acts” that stood out in their minds. The rest spoke of specific things I did for them that made a lasting impact on their lives. To be honest, I could barely recall some of the instances they recounted. 


But the lesson of the evening is one I shall always remember. People will forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel. I am glad we could “go home again” to re-learn that vital lesson.

Stephen Fuchs twitter: @rabbifuchs6


I invite you to follow my blog at


(Please note: my website ( 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.) 

  Bat Yam  

     Temple of the Islands

A Reform Jewish Congregation 

presents the return of 





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

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

Please join us again for a few hours of outstanding and joyous musical variety featuring exhilarating vocal performances by our own local clergy and their worldrenowned guests!


Joining our own Cantor Murray E. Simon will be the Rev. Dr. John H. Danner, Senior Pastor of our sister church SCUCC, and, back by popular demand, Cantor Elizabeth Shammash of Teferet Bet Israel in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.  

Cantor Rachel Brook, Assistant Cantor of the Park Avenue

Synagogue in New York City, will be joining us for the first time. Cantor Brook, a former student of Cantor Simon,  has sung at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, and Jazz at Lincoln Center, and has sung opera and concert roles throughout the U.S., Italy, and Bulgaria. 


Last year’s concert proved to be a resounding success as both a significant fundraiser for Bat Yam and a memorable musical event that played to a capacity audience. As this is Bat Yam’s premier fundraising event of the year, sponsorships and preferred seating will be available as we again expect a capacity turnout with standing room only! Be on the lookout for further details and sponsorship opportunities, which will follow in the February issue of Bat Yam Matters, and via our special mailer.


So, mark your calendars for the return of “Three Cantors and a Pastor,” on Sunday, March 1, 2020, at 4:00 p.m. in the sanctuary of SCUCC.  


Be sure to attend this exciting event!  You’ll be glad you did!  


                                                  Judith Adler and Howard Lorsch

                                                     Concert Co-Chairs

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


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

From the Cantor

Chanukah:  A Moveable Feast (of Lights)  


Dear Friends,


Do you remember a few years ago when the first night of Chanukah fell on Thanksgiving? I believe that was probably a once-in-the-century occurrence. This year, Chanukah comes during the Christmas holiday time (Sunday evening, December Cantor Murray Simon 22, to Monday evening, December 30). How come Chanukah moves around so much? Well, it doesn’t. It always comes on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev on the lunar calendar. What is interesting to me is that this very minor Jewish holiday is not mentioned in our Bible since it occurred in the second century pre-Christian era around 167 B.C.E. The story is preserved in the books of the First and Second Maccabees, which describe in detail the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem (Chanukat HaBayit) and the lighting of the menorah.


When Chanukah falls around Christmas time, as it does this year, somehow it gains more importance, “competing” with the very major (and commercial) “season of giving.” Both holidays celebrate lights because they come at the darkest time of the year around the winter solstice. Both holidays feature gift giving as part of their celebration, and both holidays have their own special music heard and enjoyed only at that time. While Chanukah could never compete with the very large body of Christmas church music, cantatas, oratorios and carols, it does have its special happy tunes that bring a smile to us as we sing them. How fun to sing “I Have a Little Dreydle” or “Sivon, Sov, Sov, Sov” or “O Chanukah, O Chanukah.” It‘s interesting to note that the tune most associated with the holiday, “Ma-oz Tzur” (“Rock of Ages”), is probably taken from a German folk song (first part) and a German battle song (“Benzenauer” – second part). Still, that tune has been known to Ashkenazi Jews since the mid-fifteenth century.  


Most of all, Chanukah, like its Christian counterpart, is a family celebration done in the home. The lighting of the Chanukiah and the singing of songs, the exchange of gifts, and special foods are woven into the fabric of our collective Jewish memories!  Chag Chanukah Sameyach – may your Chanukah holiday be melodious and joyous!



                                                                                                Cantor Murray E. Simon




Wednesdays, December 4 and 11, 10:00 a.m., repeated at 7:00 p.m. – Pastor John

Danner’s classes, “Journey of the Universe: An Introduction to Mary Evelyn Tucker” (January shared scholar)

Thursday, December 5, 10:30 a.m. – Rabbi Fuchs’ class, “Genesis’ Earliest Stories”


Sunday, December 8, 10:00 a.m. – Jewish Federation of Lee and Charlotte

Counties Community Breakfast 


Sunday, December 22, 5:00 p.m. – Chanukah celebration  


Wednesdays, January 8, 15, and 22, 10:00 a.m., repeated at 7:00 p.m. – classes co-taught by Rabbi Fuchs and Reverend Danner 


Sunday, January 26, 4:00 p.m. – Shared Scholar Lecture


Monday, January 27, 9:00 a.m. – Shared Scholar Seminar


Friday, January 31, 7:30 p.m. – Pulpit Exchange with SCUCC


Sunday, February 2, 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. – Pulpit Exchange with SCUCC


Sunday, March 1, 4:00 p.m. – “Three Cantors and a Pastor” concert


Thursday, March 26, 6:00 p.m. – Bat Yam annual membership meeting