Welcome to Agudath Achim

Agudath Achim is a warm, welcoming, inclusive conservative congregation located close to the Midtown section of Little Rock, Arkansas. Individuals and families of all backgrounds and levels of observance are welcome. Our synagogue combines meaningful Shabbat services, traditional services on all Jewish holidays, education and fun social events to bring together a diverse group of members of all ages and backgrounds. Visit us. Call us. We are open and welcoming. See why Agudath Achim is more than a congregation. We’re a family.

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March 27th & 28th, 2020Parashat Vayikra

Friday March 27th

7:09PM           Candle Lighting for Shabbat

Saturday March 28th
Shabbat Morning Services Cancelled

8:13PM           Shabbat Ends


Dear Congregants,

As we face these uncertain times, I hope everyone is well and staying home as much as is possible. Thank you to all our medical professionals for being on the front line of this pandemic, as well as those workers whose essential jobs keep our society going. We have canceled Shabbat services as well as any gatherings to fulfill the mandate of social distancing, but we understand how lonely and isolating this can feel.

While there isn’t a great deal we, as a Synagogue community rather than as individuals, can do to help the situation, we have reactivated a telephone chain that we used to have years ago. The idea is that those at the top of this pyramid, call 3-4 others, then they call 3-4 more, etc. I hope by now you have received a phone call asking how you are, what do you need, and if there is anything we can do to help. Huge thanks go to Karen Mackey, Valerie Steinberg, and Polly Greenbaum for volunteering to head this up.

Our next visit by student rabbi Ben Freed has been canceled, naturally, but we will be looking at ways to either make this up or in some way compensate for the missed in-person visits. Ben has been in touch with us, joined our Board of Trustees meeting (which we did via Zoom, a video meeting platform) and has been very helpful.

Please let me, or any of our board members, or the office know if there is anything you need. We are working with Jewish Federation of AR for social work needs.

Stay safe and healthy.

Susan Weinstein
President, Congregation Agudath Achim


Shabbat Message from Rabbi Ben

Shalom y’all,

Today (Thursday) is Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the first day of the month of Nissan, which contains the holiday of Pesach/Passover. In the Talmud, the first day of Nissan is known as “Rosh Hashanah of the kings and the festivals.”

It was this month that set the calendar for the Jewish people when God said to Moses and Aharon before the exodus from Egypt: “This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you.” (Exodus 12:2) Many commentators have noted that God chose to begin the process of the exodus with the establishment of a calendar, the beginning of becoming a nation was to have our own sense of time. As slaves our time was at the mercy of those whom we served, as free people our time would be our own and we would be able to count by our own national calendar.

For many of us, the recent outbreak has led to us being thrown off of our regular calendars and schedules. Days feel like weeks as we are confined to our homes and it can be difficult to keep track of the days of the week as we lose the rhythms of life that had animated our days, weeks, and months. It can be hard to be productive or to feel like ourselves when we do not keep to our schedule, when our ability to control our time is taken away.

As we approach Pesach, I encourage us all to take a lesson from God’s instructions to Moses and to attempt to regain control over our time and schedule. Ritualize certain things—perhaps a morning coffee or an afternoon walk—to regain a feeling of mastery over ourselves and our time during this time of uncertainty and anxiety. I’ve seen some of you posting on Facebook doing exactly this, and I encourage you to share your rituals with each other during your calls on the phone tree that has been so beautifully organized by Valerie, Karen, Sue, and Polly. Share the little things that are making you happy and giving you structure as you adjust to this new—hopefully short and temporary—reality.

Now, for some announcements. I wanted to share four amazing opportunities with you that you can also put into your schedule/calendar and join for some cooking, learning, and fun:

Cooking Collectively with Judy Matthews: Join CSAIR member and passionate chef Judy Matthews for a collective cooking demonstration Thursday evening at 7:00 CDT as she prepares her shabbat meals.

Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/858833561

Kabbalat Shabbat Live with CSAIR: Join the CSAIR staff and members Friday evening at 4:00 CDT for some pre-shabbat singing, torah, and fun (Zoom Q&A at 3:45) . This week’s edition will include a guest musical appearance by Deborah Sacks Mintz and the comedic parsha stylings of the whole Freed Family!

Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/406470536

Torah in the time of Corona: Jewish Models of Relationship in a Time of Physical Distancing I will be teaching this class for the new Young Judaea Chaverim online program. We’ll look at biblical and rabbinic texts to see what Jewish history and wisdom can share with us about looking out for each other while keeping our distance. Tuesday March 31st, 6:30 p.m. CDT.

Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/694052744

From Slavery to Redemption: How to Lead a Seder For One, Two or More People Whether it’s your first time hosting a seder or your seder will look a lot different this year, join CSAIR Rabbis and staff as they help you to think about what seder can look like in unprecedented times. Wednesday April 1, 7:00 p.m. CDT.

Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/690790831

Also, please save the date/time Sunday April 5 in the early afternoon for a seder-themed Lunch n’ Learn with me just for the Agudath Achim community. Exact time and topic will be announced shortly along with a zoom link.

Lastly, I wanted to share some guidance the Rabbinical Assembly—the professional organization of Conservative Rabbis—has developed around Passover this year.

Here is a link on the possibility of online seders: https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/story/streaming-seder

This page deals with kashrut issues this year when finding some specific Kosher for Passover items may be difficult: https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/story/kashrut-subcommittee-recommendations-passover-5780-light-covid-19

An early shabbat shalom to all of you,
Student Rabbi Ben Freed

Update COVID-19:
As the situation changes daily with COVID-19, and with new restrictions on gatherings, we will be cancelling religious services for at least the next two weeks.  We will continue to re-evaluate, and this may be extended as long as this public health emergency exists.  In this health crisis, we consider it our halakhic (Jewish law) and moral duty to do what is in our control to slow the spread of COVID-19. We, like all of you, have received a real-time education on the public health benefits of “social distancing” and precautionary quarantines.

As Jews, we are a social group, but right now, our health and the health of our community supersedes all. United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism has a lot of resources for us on their website https://uscj.org/press/protecting-your-congregation-community-from-coronavirus

Please note also that they have a link for live-streamed services: Click here for a full list of synagogues doing Zoom (minyanim) as well as virtual and livestreamed services.General Health Information:

Synagogue Resources:

Happy Anniversary
Mar 28th – Sam & Bonnie Nickol

Happy Birthday
Mar 28th – Abe Martinez & Earl Sorrells

Upcoming Yahrzeits
Nisan 3rd – (Mar 28th) – Sidney Koenig & Rose Spector
Nisan 4th – (Mar 29th) – Audrey Miller Poritzky
Nisan 8th – (Apr 2nd) – Doris Einstein Livingston
Nisan 9th – (Apr 3rd) – Betty Levy

Refuah Shleimah – wishing a speedy recovery to:
Please contact the office to add or remove a name from the list.
Irving Balto (Yizchok ben Chana),
Jerry Cohen (Yosef ben Leah),
Alan Nussbaum (Josef ben Shana Bala),
Rabbi Kalman Winnick (Kalman Ibn ben Devora),
Brian Zubkoff (Dov Ber Mordechai ben Gittel),
Vikki Girone (Leah bat Hannah),
Nechie Kilimnick (Chaya Nechca bat Riva Leah),
Alina Kuperman (Elana bat Mira),
Arlene Margolis (Chana Esther bat Shaindel),
Judith Rosenblat (Yehudit bat Rut),
Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay (HaRav Shirah Rachel bat Batya),
Fred Gray, Kim Smith