Author Archives: Wendy Gottsegen

TBO Chailights – Tuesday, Feb 18


Friday, Feb 21
5:45 PM: Torah Explorers
Join TBO’s smallest congregants along with our guest, Rabbi Amy Small, to usher in Shabbat with a special sTorahtelling geared just for them. As always, this brief, kid-friendly service will be followed by Shabbat dinner, crafts and fun in the Social Hall! RSVP Required. Please email Mindy Knapp.

7:30 PM: sTorahtelling Shabbat Service
Come welcome Rabbi Amy Small to Temple this Friday, as she, Cantor Galit and a group of our congregational thespians engage in sTorahtelling to explore the central role of women in Judiasm. Not sure  what sTorahtelling is? Click here for view of video of this classical but fresh approach to the telling of the Torah via performance. **Special Note – b’nai mitzvah candidates will receive DOUBLE credit for this service if both parents attend with them.**

Saturday, Feb 22
10:30 AM Shabbat Service
Please join us for Shabbat services and support Jonathan Chase as he is called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah. Mazel tov to Sam and his family on this important accomplishment.

Who Nu?

Wednesday, Feb 19: Join Renaissance for a luncheon presentation by Rick Busciglio. Rick will speak about his career in entertainment as a broadcast executive, disc jockey and television presenter. RSVP to Mitzi Szerlip.

Saturday, Feb 22: Artist Reception for Annual Spirit of the Human Family Exhibit: Meet artists from many different faiths and backgrounds and share their creative vision of the humanity that unites us all. 7:30 – 9:30 PM – Linda Grandis Blatt Gallery.  Enjoy desserts, live music and meet and greet the exhibiting artists.

Saturday, March 1: Connections invites you to an “Evening of Bliss” – dinner and tickets to the play “Rx,” about the prescription for happiness. It promises to be an excellent cure for the Winter doldrums. Please click here for more information and to RSVP.

Sunday, March 2: It’s Time for Family Portraits! The F-16 Company is back and ready to capture lasting memories for your family. Reserve your photo shoot between 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM.  Contact the PreSchool office to book!

Thursday, March 13, 7:00 PM: Guest speaker, Rabbi Mary Zamore will discuss “The Dovekeepers: A Novel” by Alice Hoffman, a contemporary retelling of the story of the Jewish resistance during the Roman siege of Masada. This Sisterhood Book Club event is open to all TBO members and their guests. RSVP to Nancy Ellis.

Friday, March 14: Mama Doni is Back!! And she’s ready to rock the sanctuary for our annual kids’ service and Purim Concert.  Joins us at 6:30 PM for fun and fellowship. Costumes are required!

Sunday, March 16: THE ANNUAL TBO PURIM CARNIVAL – Make sure you don’t miss this year’s Purim Carnival, featuring new games, new prizes, a moon bounce, cotton candy and food served up by the Men’s Club!

Saturday, March 22: TRIVIA NIGHT! Come to Temple for a night of fun and games in support of the Frances & Herbert Brody PreSchool of Temple B’nai Or.  Dinner and drinks included, fun guaranteed!! Purchase your tickets today and show the love to the BEST PreSchool in Morris County!

Sunday, March 23: RESCHEDULED Join Renaissance for breakfast at 9:00 AM with Glenn LeBoeuf, featuring his program entitled, “FDR and the Women Who Loved Him.” No cost for anyone who paid for the Jan 16 luncheon. New participants can join for $6 for Renaissance Members, $10 for Guests.  RSVP to Mitzi Szerlip.

Sunday, March 23: Spring Into Pesach: Songs of Freedom and Renewal Join us for the URJ Northern NJ Choral Festival at 3:00 PM. Congregational Choirs from the region will gather at Temple B’nai Or to share musical settings of our Pesach tradition and the music of Spring. You may hear music belonging to verses from the Song of Songs, the Haggadah, settings written of the exodus in the Torah, and much more.

Friday, April 4: SAVE THE DATE: ROCK SHABBAT! We are pleased to welcome popular musician, Peri Smilow, back to TBO for our annual Rock Shabbat with the 5th Grade. Plan to join us and get your Shabbat groove on.

Register now! Renaissance Coalition Trip to Tanglewood August 4 – 7: Enjoy a wonderful collection of musical performances, museums and other Berkshires experiences with friends.  Contact Charlotte Abberman for details and to register.

Connecting Our Community

Considering a Birthright Trip? Birthright Israel has changed some of their rules and now MORE young Jews ages 18 – 29 are eligible for the FREE BIRTHRIGHT TRIP TO ISRAEL! Registration Opens Wednesday, February 19 for trips departing in May, June, July and August, 2014. Email Wendy Gottsegen

Free JDate: Do you have a single son or daughter at least 21 years old who is interested in dating another Jewish person? Please have him/her contact Rabbi Rossoff for a free trial subscription to This offer is for children of Temple members only.

Do you love art? Would you like to work with others to enhance the experience of everyone who visits TBO? Would you like to make the gallery even more special? Join the Gallery Committee! Contact Shari Leviss.

The Judaica Shop is ready to assist families of B’nai Mitzvah prepare for their Simcha. We offer kippot, a great selection of tallit (including petite sizes), yads, celebrations candles and more. Stop in to see us on Sundays or Thursdays during Religious School hours. By appointment, call Laura Siegel at 973-455-0474. Find us on Facebook or email Look for coupons in the quarterly TBO Or-acle! All profits from the Judaica shop go directly to fund Temple needs.

Audacious Biennial




This was my first biennial and I had no idea how awesome it would be! So much to choose from that it is overwhelming, but it was a constant learning opportunity and I so wished that all of you were there with me.

There was fabulous music, inspiring services, excellent teachings about every aspect of Jewish community life.

A special highlight from the first night was Rabbi Rick Jacobs powerful, inspiring address to us. He so passionately described a vision of community Audacious Hospitality. His words echo the themes which we have discussed as a Board over the last few years, and I know that his leadership will inspire all of us to continue to bring our community to higher and higher levels of inspired engagement. I encourage you to view the keynote and discuss with me how we can be more audacious at TBO.

Susan Levinson, President




Years ago, when we were checking out the University of Michigan, we made it a point to go to Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor. Little did we realize when we were eating our bagels that we will sitting in the hub of a multifaceted corporation which – as of last year – did sales of close to $50 million!  They have but this one shop, but there are also a number of offshoots like Zingerman’s Creamery, Zingerman’s Coffee Company, Candy, Bakehouse (all of which are available through mail order), and Zingtrain, the enterprise which trains executives in the Zingerman mode of customer service.

We attended a session with Zingerman’s Co-founding Partner and CEO, Ari Weinzweig (pictured) during which he talked about their model of customer service. He spoke about the importance of having a unifying vision, which informed the culture, principles and systems at Zingerman’s and resulted in “Great food! Great Service! Great finance!”  Part of great service means making sure that each employee understands the vision and their responsibility in maximizing the experience of the customer.

We got into the discussion of how improving “customer service” at Temples is more important than ever, and what that might mean. But many of us also raised the idea that Temples have the additional mission of wanting  members to see themselves, not so much as customers who come to synagogues on a “fee for service” basis, but more as participants in sacred communities who are there to serve, not just to be served. 

Rabbi Don Rossoff

URJ Biennial Day 2

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On Day 2 of the Biennial I attended an amazing session on how to bring modern, Israeli poetry into prayer and curriculum through music. It was awesome (and I took lots of notes to share with my colleagues at TBO). Continued with amazing networking discussing everything from High Holiday services, alternative religious school experiences, and the changing role of parents in the education landscape.

I presented my workshop to a group of dedicated professionals who understand that the role of the early educator encompasses more than running the pre-school. It is gratifying presenting the collaborative model that has worked so successfully in our temple. An innovative professional staff, creative programming, strong local and national partnerships – these provide the foundation for continued success. We know that early learning evolves into family engagement, and this is one way we reach our goal of “Connecting Tradition to Life.”

I finished the day with dinner with my Early Childhood colleagues, and then attended an inspiring plenary session with an impactful speech by URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs. He spoke of “audacious hospitality,” the future of the Reform movement, and our important relationship with Israel. I urge you to go to and watch this speech. We are rebooting Reform Judaism and we are all responsible for its success.   

Tomorrow brings more opportunity! More love from San Diego!

Jennie Rubin, Director of Early Childhood Education