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Fall 2019

To view past issues of the new online Temple Beth El newsletters, click here. 
If you are at a Temple Beth El event, please snap some photos, add captions and send them to

News from our Rabbi:
Three Snapshots of Rabbi Luna's calendar:

What does a rabbi do all week? This is a common question asked of rabbis so I'm dedicating my TBE newsletter column to snapshots of my rabbinic calendar. Each month I'll pick three projects or tasks that I'm working on to share with you. I've enjoyed looking over my calendar, deciding what to share, and reflecting on how I spend my time at Temple Beth El. These are just snapshots so I'm not including my regular sermon preparation, Torah study preparation, Talmud and Life class, Lunch and Learn class, Confirmation class, Religious School t’filah service and Hebrew class, Shabbat service preparation, staff meetings, pastoral appointments, hospital visits, Governing Committee meetings, pastoral phone calls, committee meetings, clergy study gatherings, etc. 

This month, I'm focusing on following up on significant initiatives and events: our revitalized Religious School, tree planting, and High Holy Days. Our special events have had remarkable turnout but these are projects that are ongoing and require continued attention. Religious School: Last year the Religious School Task Force and I spent months meeting with parents, teachers, and post-Confirmation students to hear their thoughts about the future of our TBE Religious School. We explored multiple curriculum options, researched other successful Religious School models, and developed new programs for our 2019-2020 school year. Over the past three months, we introduced a social shul-in activity, Community Shabbat dinners with Religious School participation, and an extended day Sukkot celebration, in addition to the two new curricula. Now that we’ve experienced three months of the revitalized Religious School, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate how things are going. I spent two weeks observing and participating in Religious School classes on Sunday morning. I then led a parents meeting to check in with the parents about their reactions to the changes. Fortunately, we received very positive feedback about the direction of the Religious School. The parents also offered helpful suggestions, like including more multi-age opportunities. On November 10 the Religious School Task Force and I will also meet with the teachers to hear their thoughts about the year. While it’s exciting to introduce something new, it’s also important to continually evaluate how things are progressing. Many thanks to our Religious School Task Force- Tami Traiger, Neena Kushner, and Scott Schwartz and all our committed parents and teachers.

On November 10 the Religious School Task Force and I will also meet with the teachers to hear their thoughts about the year. While it’s exciting to introduce something new, it’s also important to continually evaluate how things are progressing. Many thanks to our Religious School Task Force- Tami Traiger, Neena Kushner, and Scott Schwartz and all our committed parents and teachers.

Tree Planting in the Temple Preserve: What a whirlwind of activity in our new Temple Preserve and Community
Gardens. In the planting before Rosh Hashanah and the planting on the Interfaith Service Day, we have over 350 new trees and 100 shrubs in the ground. I’ve been coordinating the watering of the new plants with Wil Revehl, founder and executive director of, our non-profit partner in the Temple Preserve project. On Saturday November 2 I led a Torah study on the story of Noah and then our Torah study members went outside towater the plants and live out the covenant made between God and Noah to take care of our planet. Our Religious School parents also went outside to water on a Sunday morning. Many thanks to Janelle Christensen, a Religious School parent, who is out every Sunday morning tending to the preserve. Our next step is to present to the county a development order to include trails, gardens and a pavilion in the preserve. This is an on-going project and we’re grateful for the continued partnership with 

High Holy Day Review:

Sukkot Under The Stars sunset service and dinner at the edge of the new Temple Beth El Preserve

The High Holy Days are not over after the last shofar note is sounded and they’re not even over when the Torah scrolls are returned to the ark after Simchat Torah. Following the holidays, I always spend time reviewing Selichot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah. I try to make notes after every service and I have a Word file labeled “High Holy Day notes” for the following year. This year we introduced a few changes, including having all group aliyot for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur morning, inviting Tot Shabbat children to the bima at Neilah services, and holding Sukkot evening services and a Sukkot Watering Party outside in the Temple Preserve. Already on my mind for next year is revamping our Selichot service booklet, planning a High Holy Day nature walk, and how to encourage even more dancing on Simchat Torah! 

We are fortunate to have incredible initiatives and holidays to celebrate. The participation and turnout has been incredible and I’m so grateful for all the enthusiasm. We strive for continual experimentation, reflection and excellence in all we do at Temple Beth El! 


Rabbi Luna 

Interfaith Service

Visit this link to see media coverage of the Temple Beth el Interfaith Service.

On Sunday October 27th, the one-year anniversary of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburg, our local Interfaith Group gathered together to acknowledge that tragedy, actively choosing to make our community a place where we recognize that our similarities are far greater than our differences. 
Many thanks to Cypress Lake United Methodist Church for bringing chairs and tables and the crew to set up, along with donating water, over 100 shrubsand supplies for creating cards for veterans and children at Golisano Children’s Hospital, as well as bringing us The Unity Tree. Iona-Hope Episcopal Church sponsored our two sheriff's
deputies for security for the event, and, along with Temple Beth El's Lydia Rivera, supplied a delicious meal for the

Wil Revehl of One Tree stands next to the Unity Tree at the Temple Beth El Preserve.

Preparing lunches to be delivered to soup kitchens.

more than 100 people who participated. Temple Judea assembled over 90 packed lunches to be given to Sally’s Café & Soup Kitchen (Salivation Army) and the Community Cooperative . Members of the Muslim community,  the  Boy Scouts and students from RSW and FGCU, worked side by side with the Temple Beth El community and Wil Revehl of the local non-profit One, who organized and led the planting of the UnityTree, along with media coverage for the day. 

OneTree also organized forces to water trees recently in the new Temple Beth El Preserve and to spread mulch and plant new shrubs there.

Pastor Robert Bledsoe from Cypress Lake United Methodist Church, Rabbi Luna and Wil Revehl of One Tree 

Gratitude to the Temple Beth El Mitzvah Committee, especially Hilary and Jerry Kobrin and Laurie Morris, for all the advance preparation, ensuring the evening went over so smoothly. And thanks to Paul Kling and Roland Eisenberg for the photographs. It was truly a team work effort with all group and ages helping with all projects.

David Kramer, the little boy who carried his stuffed Torah to Temple Beth El, will be called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah on Saturday, November 9. An active student at TBE, he began learning with Rabbi Barras in Tot Shabbat and entered Religious School in kinder-garten.

An eighth grader, David is a high honors student at Lexington Middle School (LXMS). He has received certificates of excellence for his academic achievement, especially in Math and Physical Education, and congratulatory letters for his FSA performances. David earned State Recognition from Duke University’s 

Talent Identification Program and is a member of the National Junior Honor Society.

David greatly enjoys sports. Having played recreational baseball, soccer, basketball, and Tae Kwon Do, David’s current athletic endeavors include playing with LXMS's basketball and tennis teams, and competitive darts. David has won several 1st and 2nd place dart trophies. While representing Florida this year, he won the American Darts Organization’s Youth Sportsmanship Award. When David isn’t playing sports, you can find him playing video games.

David and his parents, Peter and Melissa Kramer, thank Rabbi Nicole Luna, Morah Dale Cohen, and all of TBE’s Religious School teachers for helping David reach his full potential.

High Holiday Reflections
Adding to our beautiful High Holy Day services was the Temple Beth El choir, stronger than ever. Thanks to all the volunteers, in the choir, in our band, in the audio visual team who operates the big screen projection and live feed, and committees who immerse themselves in planning and carrying out tasks to make our holidays special.

Temple Beth El High Holiday Choir

Sukkot was celebrated in a meaningful way at Temple Beth El. The children learned new and old Sukkot songs, decorated the sukkah, and made smoothies to enjoy in the sukkah. Later, Rabbi Luna gathered members together to worship as evening fell and our service, filled with music and joy, was held at the foot of the new Temple Preserve and Community Gardens. The Preserve is an oasis of green and will bring peace to many in Lee County. Afterwards, dinner was served in the Sukkah and we all shook the lulav and smelled the etrog as we ate and conversed.

Simchat Torah
Oct. 21, 2019

Please allow me to paint you a picture. Imagine, if you will, about a hundred pairs of hands and thus about 1000 fingers, white, pink, tan and brown. Some smooth, some wrinkled, large and small hands and fingers, all attached to congregants and visitors to Temple Beth El, thrilled for the first, second, or third or more times, to be grasping the very top of the pages of our unrolled Torah, spreading across the back of our sanctuary for close to 135 feet, during our Simchat Torah celebration. With smiles on every face, no fingers touch the kosher ink of this Torah, for fear of smudging the hand-written letters. 

My picture also includes Cantor Bessman reading and translating the last verses of Deuteronomy at one end of the unrolled Torah and Rabbi Luna reading and translating the opening verses of Genesis at the opposite end. Reading from Genesis began the cycle once again; some for the first time, while for others repeating the readings of the Torah with its beauty and traditions, the laws and stories that lead through the ages to today. (Can you hear the strains of the melody from Tevye’s violin from “Fiddler on the Roof” playing “Traditions”?)

Let’s go back to just before we unrolled the Torah and continue painting my picture, filling in the white spaces on our canvas: imagine four Confirmation Class

graduates, each holding a post to elevate a beautiful white chuppah.  Five youngsters, about to enter TBE’s Religious School, a bit nervous and twitchy, are standing under the chuppah, listening to the rabbi chant a blessing for them, all the while holding their own mini Torahs and smiling broadly. In the little bits left of empty canvas, fill in the space with young children waving and dancing with paper Simchat Torah flags, while congregants dance around the sanctuary seven times, carrying our seven Torahs, and changing Torah carriers as hakafot are done all the while. What an amazing sight!

Like fellow Jews the world over, when there is a holiday to celebrate, there has to be food. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the lovely Israeli-influenced catered dinner enjoyed by close to 100 congregants and guests.

This is Temple Beth El at its best: families together with children and guests, new members of TBE and old-timers all coming together to confirm their Judaism and build on age-old traditions, and building new ones together.

Berny Aronson
Ritual Committee Co-Chair

Jewish Recovery Group 

Jewish Recovery Group @ Temple Beth El
Saturday, November 23rd
11AM to NOON

Please email recovery for more information

Tot Shabbat

During Tot Shabbat in October, Rabbi Luna led
Shabbat services with our younger children while our older children made "challah babies". Challah babies are made by stuffing pantyhose, braiding and then decorating it with eyes and hair.  Many thanks to Lindy Smith for leading this fun activity which the kids loved!

Gerald Ziedenberg Lecture Series

King David Society

The financial future of the temple is in the hands of the King David Society.  

The King David Society was established over ten years ago as a mechanism to allow all temple members, no matter what their financial capability, to help ensure the financial future of our Temple.  Naming Temple Beth El in your will or trust is something that does not affect your present finances but helps to ensure the continuity of our traditions for all our tomorrows.

Frequently asked questions:

1. What is the King David Society?  Loyal members of Temple Beth El who have made a written commitment in their will or trust to donate to Temple Beth El upon their death.

2. How is this accomplished?  The member will fill out a Commitment Form, found in the temple office and on our website, which advises their family of their wish to include TBE in their will or trust and identifies the executor of their estate.  We have temple attorney members who will draft a codicil or amendment to their will at no cost.

3. What does this mean for TBE?  Over the years we have already received significant contributions from those who believe that the future is just as important as the present.  An example of such a member is Debbie Meisenberg who we sadly lost just this year.  Debbie knew the importance of ensuring our future and named TBE to receive $50,000 upon her death.  There are no words to express our gratitude for her generosity and, even more valuable, her commitment to our beloved Temple Beth El.

4. What happens when I join the King David Society?  You will be honored during a Shabbat service and presented with a pin identifying you as a member, regardless of whether your commitment is $500 or $50,000.   Your name(s) will be inscribed on a plaque, proudly displayed in our temple lobby.  You will also be invited to events that take place during the year, including a King David dinner.  Most importantly, you will know in your heart that you have contributed to ensure the presence of Reform Judaism in Lee County.

5. So, what do I do now?  If you would like more information or to arrange a meeting, please call the temple office, 239-433-0018.

Tikun Olam – you have made the world a better place for all.  Thank you.

Linda Sweet

Mitzvah Committee News

Book Club News

Judi Bayer led our Nov 6 meeting of TBE Book Club. We discussed the biography, The Rebbe, by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. It deals with the life of Rabbi Menachem Mendel  Schneerson, who turned the movement Chabad-Lubavitch into a dynamic organization within the Jewish world. On December 4 Carol Kaplan will lead our discussion of David Hirshberg’s award winning fictional memoir, My Mother’s Son. All are welcome.

Sisterhood News

Sisterhood has numerous activities planned.

On November 14 we will have our Welcome Back Event. This will be an informative and fun filled afternoon. Our Ladies who Lunch continues in November, it is scheduled the third Monday of each month. The Ladies Who Lunch program has been a big hit! It's wonderful just to simply meet for lunch once a month, ordering off the menu for ourselves in different restaurants and cafes in and around Lee County. If you haven't joined us, please look for the next date and location so we can

chat together as we eat. On Thursday, December 5th Sisterhood is hosting a Trivia Night, it will be a fun event for all. Bring your friends, form your team!

Look for your Sisterhood Membership application in your mailbox soon.

Look for more details in the Temple Blasts and on the website.

Nancy Armocida
Sisterhood Co-President

Senior Serenaders

The Senior Serenaders perform at different Senior Living Facilities, and we are noticing some residents who are Jewish. If you have a family member or friend in one of the senior residences, we encourage you to visit them when Senior Serenaders are there and sit with them during the performances.  For the performance schedule for Seniors Serenaders, please inquire at

Membership Team News

On October 5th, Temple Beth El joined the LGBTQ community with our own TBE booth at the Southwest Florida Pride Festival on the Alliance of the Arts grounds. Not only did our members meet lots of wonderful visitors who stopped by the booth, but it was fun to sit with one another. Rabbi Luna and her family met many festival goers and we enjoyed seeing some at our synagogue during the High Holy Days. We were proud to represent the Jewish community and offer a welcoming Jewish spiritual home to all those who stopped by our booth.

We hope you received your greeting from the Membership Team during High Holidays. We will


continue to contact the greater membership throughout the year, and please, contact us for any feedback, ideas, or if you would like to join any committee including the Membership Team. You an email Randy at

News will be published soon about some New Member events, opportunities for our current members to identify our new friends and for our new members to ge to know the congregation. 

Adult Hebrew Class

On February 26, 2019, Mike Kashi began the Adult Hebrew class at Temple Beth El. Now, nine months later, the studious members of the class can read just about any word put in front of them! Please note that when an Adult Hebrew class student is called up to the bima for a Torah blessing or even a candle blessing, he/she will be reading the Hebrew, not the English transliteration. It’s always exciting when one of thestudents begins to read a line from the study guide and realizes he/she recognizes the phrase!



If you’ve had to miss many classes and feel behind, please know that some have returned after being away and do come in seamlessly. We all go at a different pace. Mike is always happy to begin at 5pm with a special help session. If you’d like to stop in and see what we’re doing, please come to the library on Tuesday evenings from 5:30-7pm. We have fun!

The FunnyBone Corner

Wed, November 25 2020 9 Kislev 5781