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Services This Month

Friday Evening Shabbat Services
Friday, June 7, at 7:00 pm
Join us for joyful Shabbat services led by Rabbi Reice and Hannah Cohn as she prepares to be called to the Torah as a Bat Mitzvah.
June 8th Morning Shabbat Services and Bar Mitzvah for Oliver Weisbrod
Saturday, June 8th at 10:00 am
We come together as the Weisbrod family and Congregation Shir Ami celebrate the simcha of Oliver Weisbrod being called to the Torah as Bar Mitzvah. Please join us on this special occasion as this Religious School student passes from childhood to adulthood in our Jewish tradition, and as our Shir Ami family honors this momentous event!
Rabbi Reice will lead this special ceremony, along with our regular Saturday morning Shabbat Torah Service. Please click here to register!
Save the Date! July 12th Shabbat Services
Friday, July 12th at 7:00 pm
Join us for Shabbat services led by Rabbi Reice. We will be installing the new board of trustees!

Upcoming Events

Rabbi Reice Office Hours
June and July Office Hours
3 Jun 2024 (26 Iyar) 10am – 2pm 💻 & 👫
5 Jun 2024 (28 Iyar) 8 – 9am (Zoom only) 💻
5 Jun 2024 (28 Iyar) 12 – 1pm (Shalom Austin only) 👫
10 Jun 2024 (4 Sivan) 9 – 11am (Shalom Austin only) 👫
11 Jun 2024 (5 Sivan) 9am – 1pm (Zoom only) 💻
18 Jun 2024 (12 Sivan) 11am – 2pm 💻 & 👫
19 Jun 2024 (13 Sivan) 11am – 12:30pm (Shalom Austin only) 👫
19 Jun 2024 (13 Sivan) 7 – 8:30pm (In Person or Zoom, Depends On Class Registrations)
24 Jun 2024 (18 Sivan) 11:30am – 5:30pm 💻 & 👫
2 Jul 2024 (26 Sivan) 11am – 2pm 💻 & 👫
2 Jul 2024 (26 Sivan) 2 – 5pm (Zoom only) 💻
9 Jul 2024 (3 Tamuz) 9am – 3pm (Zoom only) 💻
16 Jul 2024 (10 Tamuz) 11am – 3pm 💻 & 👫
17 Jul 2024 (11 Tamuz) 11am – 1pm (Zoom only) 💻
23 Jul 2024 (17 Tamuz) 11am – 2pm (Zoom only) 💻
24 Jul 2024 (18 Tamuz) 11am – 2pm 💻 & 👫
30 Jul 2024 (24 Tamuz) 12 – 4pm 💻 & 👫
31 Jul 2024 (25 Tamuz) 11am – 1pm (Zoom only) 💻
June and July Days Off
4 Jun 2024 (27 Iyar)
6 Jun 2024 (29 Iyar)
14 Jun 2024 (8 Sivan)
17 Jun 2024 (11 Sivan)
21 Jun 2024 (15 Sivan)
26 Jun 2024 (20 Sivan) 
27 Jun 2024 (21 Sivan)
28 Jun 2024 (22 Sivan)
1 Jul 2024 (25 Sivan)
3 Jul 2024 (27 Sivan)
8 Jul 2024 (2 Tamuz)
11 Jul 2024 (5 Tamuz)
15 Jul 2024 (9 Tamuz)
18 Jul 2024 (12 Tamuz)
25 Jul 2024 (19 Tamuz)
26 Jul 2024 (20 Tamuz)
29 Jul 2024 (23 Tamuz)
June and July Office Closings
12 Jun 2024 (6 Sivan) Office Closed - Shavuot I
13 Jun 2024 (7 Sivan) Office Closed - Shavuot II
4 Jul 2024 (28 Sivan) Office Closed - National Holiday
During Office hours, Rabbi Reice will be answering the phone, answering emails, and meeting with those folks who have scheduled an appointment (in person, over the phone or a video call). Please feel free to call or email Rabbi Reice during these times. (Of course, contact her, or our President, Alan Kook, immediately for more urgent matters.)
Please email our administrator, Rachel McEwen (, to schedule an appointment in advance.

Celebrating Birthdays and Anniversaries in June

Happy Anniversary:
6/03        Sara and Rob Wilgoren
6/14        Esther & Stephen Thomas
6/17        Maddie Teller-Kook & Dr. Alan Kook
6/22        Diane Stepakof-Fay & Jason Fay
6/23        Rosanne & Mark Levbarg
6/24        Cindy & Jim Tarsi
6/25        Diane and Dr Leslie Schlanger
Happy Birthday:
6/01        Nayan Roos Kirkpatrick
6/05        Helaine Kramsky
6/06        Oliver Weisbrod
6/08        George Simmons
6/11        Dorie Mickelson
6/12        Bruce Bitner
6/13        Rabbi Rebecca Reice
6/13        Jack Dashefsky
6/16        Addie Gisser
6/18        Rachel VanScoyoc
6/19        Maxine Kaplan
6/19        Dottie Elliott
6/26        Lisa Zeevi
6/27        Paula Gentry
Spiritual and Ethical Teachings for the Counting of the Omer
Wednesdays at 8:00 to 8:30pm ET April 24 - June 5 via Zoom
Rabbi Reice taught a class on May 8th!
Board of Trustees Monthly Meeting
Monday, June 10 at 6:15 pm

All members are invited to attend the Board of Trustees meetings.  If you would like to attend this meeting, or wish to speak at the meeting, please contact our President, Alan Kook, at
Women's Mah Jongg
If you are interested in learning or playing, contact Maxine or Leslie
Happy Bookers Book Club
Date/Time: Saturday, June 22 @ 10:30 a.m.
Book: The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
About the Book
The “It” book of 2024 … from James McBride, a novel about small-town secrets and the people who keep them. "Light is only possible through dialogue between cultures, not through rejection of one or the other."
In 1972, workers in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, were digging the foundations for a new development and found a skeleton at the bottom of a well. Who the skeleton was and how it got there were two of the long-held secrets kept by the residents of Chicken Hill, the dilapidated neighborhood where immigrant Jews and African Americans lived side by side and shared ambitions and sorrows. Chicken Hill was where Moshe and Chona Ludlow lived when Moshe integrated his theater and Chona ran the Heaven & Earth Grocery Store. ... it becomes clear how much the people who live on the margins of white, Christian America struggle and what they must do to survive. … James McBride shows us that even in dark times, it is love and community—heaven and earth—that sustain us.
About the Author
James McBride, musician, composer, and award-winning author. His father, Rev. Andrew D. McBride was African-American and died of cancer at the age of 45. His mother, Ruchel Dwajra Zylska (Rachel Deborah Shilsky), later Ruth McBride Jordan, was a Jewish immigrant from Poland and the daughter of an Orthodox rabbi. James McBride  was raised in Brooklyn's Red Hook housing projects until he was seven years old. He was the last child from Ruth’s first marriage to Rev. Andrew McBride, and the eighth of 12 children.
 I'm proud of my Jewish history....Technically I guess you could say I'm Jewish since my mother was Jewish...but she converted (to Christianity). So the question is for theologians to answer. ... I just get up in the morning happy to be living."
Honors and awards:1995 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, The Color of Water, A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother; 2013 National Book Award, The Good Lord Bird; 2021 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, The Deacon King Kong; 2015 National Humanities Medal awarded by President Barak Obama.  A former reporter for The Washington Post and People magazine, James McBride holds a master’s  degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College. He is a Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at New York University.
About Happy Bookers
The Happy Bookers book club is open to Shir Ami members. Interested prospective members should contact the Shir Ami Membership Committee.

Shir Ami News

Mi Shebeirach

Our Prayers for the Physical, Spiritual and Emotional Healing for those named and any others in need.
Please email Rabbi Reice at to enter a name on the list or remove a name from the list.
Bill Bitner, LeRoy Bitner, Jeffrey-George Bogart, Ralph Burdett, Darin Burdman, Pamela Caulder-Fine, Susan Chisum, Marcelina Cisneros, Elana Clift-Reaves, Lisa Coopersmith, Glen Fine, Elizabeth Freaney, Janet Friedman, Linda Friedman, Lynn Gelber, Carol Goldmark, Robin Gordon, Juliet Clare Grabish, Pearl Kopita, Kate Koons, Bill Kurtz, Rabbi Mark Levin, William Lenz, John Maes, Thelma Mickelson, Carol Moon, Kay Moore, Wendy Pravda, Sandy Sherwin, Emory Plum Schlanger, Skylar Stefanowicz, Trystan Stefanowicz, Anthony Tarsi, Cindy Tarsi (Chasye Chana bat Laya Raizel v’Avraham Yitzchak HaLevi), Jim Tarsi, Larry Whitlock, Carole Wood, Dominic Wood, Bonnie Zimmer
Check your Email!

Please check your email for 2024-2025 dues renewal forms. Thank you for submitting your forms by June 1st and for your continued support of Congregation Shir Ami.


Thanks to the Nominating Committee!

Big thank you to the nominating committee who put together the slate for our new board members – Mookie Weisbrod, David Dashefsky, Ellen Blair, Susan Chisum and Melanie Williams. We appreciate your time and effort 
Special Thanks

Membership Committee News
The membership committee recognized the following members for their time and effort given to Shir Ami programs. Next time you see these individuals, please be sure to extend a Mazel Tov!
April Members Recognized
Carole Wood
Carole is such a joy, and we are grateful for Carole’s love of Torah! Carole not only has love for Torah, but she also has a love for teaching. She also teaches our younger kids in our Religious School. Carole, thank you for your dedication to our Torah Study program.
David Cohen
David is very generous with his time supporting the choir and Torah Study. Tonight, we are mostly honoring him for his dedication and energy to our Torah Study program. David is always prepared to teach Torah and to answer questions. He easily engages the folks in wonderful discussion of the week’s Parashat.
May Members Recognized
Mary Whitlock
Mary plays beautiful piano. Mary has been the choir’s pianist for several years now. She is always very helpful in helping the choir find the right notes. And helping us come in at the right count. This year Mary will be leading the choir and we’re very excited about this.
Craig Kurtz
Fundraiser extraordinaire. Such a big heart to serve as fundraiser for about two years now. Craig’s clever ideas of the Chanukah spelling and Asher’s “name” game were quite successful in raising funds. In addition, he and his committee presented A Night to Remember last month. An evening enjoyed by many.
Senior Day Out

On May 9, 2024, CSA members prepared and served lunch to 45 Drive A Senior, Senior Day Out clients and volunteers. The Shir Ami participants loved the outreach opportunity with this great organization! What a wonderful group of seniors and DAS volunteers. Not pictured, but also present, Paula Gentry. Thank you for having us, Drive A Senior, Northwest serving Cedar Park, Leander and Northwest Austin!  Check them out by clicking here!
High Holy Days Needs Volunteers
Dear Shir Ami Families,
as we enter summer, our thoughts go to wonderful outdoor activities and excitement for the upcoming fall season. This is also a time when we start to think about the High Holy Days. There are many ways to be involved, including joining the High Holy Days Committee. Please consider joining the team and let us know if you would be interested! You can contact me, Sarmi Stewart, by phone (956) 455-6707 or by email at I look forward to hearing from you.
Small Ark Makeover

Our small Ark has been given a makeover! Please contact Eloise Potter if you would like to see the small Ark and don't have access to the room. 

Adult Education for Juneteenth 
June 19  |  7:00 pm
Introduction to Betrayals of Trust Curriculum: American Nastiness
In pursuit of her MA in Jewish Education, Rabbi Reice wrote a curriculum for adult learners around the idea of Betrayals of Trust. She offered to pilot a few sessions to gauge interest among our congregants. This session could be taught in person or on Zoom depending on the preference of those who register. Free to members, $18 to non-members. The first two sessions of this course look at Nasty Narratives. This first session, in honor of Juneteenth, examines Nastiness in the American narrative. The second session does the same but in the uniquely Jewish context.
Click here to register!
Yom Ha’Atzmaut Celebration
Thanks to all of out volunteers for making our booth at the Yom Ha'Atzmaut celebration possible! Thanks especially to Mookie Weisbrod for setting up a display honoring the Israeli hostages and providing people with the opportunity to send messages of support to their families.
Save the Date 
September 8  |  11:30 - 12:30
Congregation Shir Ami, along with LOUU, invites you to you to “Save the Date” for a program about Advance Care Planning.
Sunday, September 8, 2024
Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church
This informative experience will include a presentation about the importance of Advanced Care Planning,
Q&A from Hospice Austin representatives, document signing and other resource sharing.
The Caring Circle - Care to Get Involved?

Lending a helping hand to members in times of stress is a vital part of any congregation. Kind and caring Shir Ami members volunteer in this group to help provide support to other Shir Ami congregants in times of life's challenges such as illness, death, divorce, and birth. Specific activities include helping to secure a minyan for a memorial or shiva service, sending notes to members on the loss of a loved one, arranging transportation for a member to attend services or other Shir Ami events, and providing meals, sending cards, visiting, or calling congregants during times of illness or post-hospitalization.
If you are experiencing any of these challenges and wish to be contacted by the Caring Circle, please contact Rabbi Reice. If you wish to be a more active Caring Circle volunteer, please contact Sara Goodman at All are welcome!

Shir Ami and Drive a Senior Northwest – Partners in Supporting our Older Adults

Volunteer Drivers Needed
Please consider becoming a volunteer driver for the Drive a Senior Northwest program. By offering to drive someone just one or two short trips a month, you will be an unbelievable help to our many older adults still living at home in the northwest Austin/Cedar Park/Leander area. Driving an older adult is incredibly rewarding and very much appreciated. Please go online to to read about the program, then print a volunteer form, fill it out, and mail it in. Or ask Sara Goodman ( for more information about the program.
Services to Adults 60+
If you or a loved one is 60+ and needs help to stay in your/their home, Drive A Senior Northwest is here for you. Services include rides to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store, community activities, etc. as well as minor home repair, telephone reassurance, and a twice monthly senior day out. Contact Drive a Senior Northwest at or (512) 250-5021.

Community News

AS+K About Suicide to Save a Life
June 10  |  1-4pm

What: JFS is presenting AS+K About Suicide to Save a Life, a 3-hour training that teaches community partners and stakeholders to recognize the warning signs, clues, and suicidal communications of people in psychological distress and identify what action to take to prevent a possible tragedy.

Why: As community staff and leaders, YOU have daily contacts with one another and with the community, making YOU well positioned to save lives. Our community is a healthier community when each of us is trained in noticing signs and symptoms of distress and knowing what to do.  

When: June 10 from 1-4pm


Tikkun Leil Shavuot
June 11-12  |  8:00pm
Treasure Screening
June 10  |  7:30pm
Introducing Israel Hour
June 5  |  12:00pm
Since October 7, our world hasn't been the same, and Shalom Austin recognizes the need for conversations around our relationships with Israel.
We invite community members to our new monthly discussion group, Israel Hour starting Wednesday, June 5 at 12PM, to share feelings, questions, thoughts and difficulties. Together we will navigate challenging conversations, hear many perspectives and learn from each other respectfully.
The conversations will be facilitated by Michal Ilai, Shalom Austin Senior Israel Educator. Registration is required to attend. For more information, please contact
Peace Family Housing Project
Peace Lutheran Church, a small church on 620, is inviting the community to be part of creating four units of transitional housing on Peace's campus for families experiencing homelessness. Typically it takes about three months to find permanent housing for families, so this facility would serve about 12 families per year. Once the funds are raised, the construction will be done by Home Aid, an organization that works with non-profits to build needed housing, and finds discounted or donated materials and labor.  Foundation for the Homeless has consulted on the design, and will be running the facility.  All money donated will only be used for housing.  No donations will be used for support of Peace Lutheran Church operations or ministry.  Because of a generous legacy gift from Lord of Life Lutheran Church, and other donations and grants, about $550,000 of the needed $1.2 million has already been raised.  As soon as the remaining funds are raised, construction will begin. The target is to have the facility built and serving families in 2025.
The even bigger dream is that Peace hopes to begin a movement where needed housing is built on other other non-profits' land, so more people could have safe housing.  Please consider being part of this project, either through Amplify Austin - "I live here, I give here" campaign this month (under Housing)  or via the Peace Housing Project website.  More information is available on both of these links, including a floor plan.  My husband, Ed Bailen, who is a member of Shir Ami, and I are excited to be so directly part of a local project to provide safe housing for families. We are happy to answer any questions you might have.
- Irene Beattie & Ed Bailen
A Matter of Balance Class
I am hoping to bring A Matter of Balance to Shir Ami and Live Oak before the end of the year. A Matter of Balance is a fun and dynamic course that emphasizes practical strategies to manage falls and maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. This course is given under the auspices of CaregiverU, a program of AGE of Central Texas.
The biggest hurdle to our beginning to offer the course is that we need at least two – and preferably three – volunteer Class Leaders (instructors) for the course. Training takes place in two five-hour sessions, which will be scheduled once we have the volunteers. Class leaders are expected to teach the course twice in the first year and once each year after that for as long as you remain a volunteer.
The course itself, which is free to all participants, is offered in eight two-hour sessions, either once a week for eight weeks or twice a week for four weeks. (My preference is the latter.) The course is usually taught during the day, since many of the target audience have trouble driving after dark, but one of my hopes for this is to schedule at least one session in late afternoon, so that anyone who needs the course but is still working can attend. We can decide later specifically how we want to schedule it.
I attended this course recently when it was presented by my neighborhood community center. I really enjoyed it and got a *lot* out of it, so much so that even others are noticing.
If you are interested in being trained and becoming a volunteer class leader, please email me at or text me at 512-699-7913. Once we have trained leaders available, we will schedule the first round of classes.
- Cindy Tarsi
Jewish Children's Regional Services
Jewish Family Services Caregiver Support Groups
Family Caregiver Support Group: This is an ongoing group and meets the first and third Thursday of each month. It is a safe place for family members caring for adult loved ones to discuss the stresses, challenges, and rewards of caregiving. To register, click here
Digital Mood & Mindfulness with Jewish Family Service
Do you feel distracted? Hurried? Preoccupied? This personal development workshop will teach mindfulness techniques that can help participants to be more present and aware in daily life. Mindfulness has the power to improve relationships, increase self-control, boost productivity and can lessen depression and anxiety.
Join Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service’s professionally-facilitated workshop to develop mindfulness skills and discuss common experiences together.
Second Tuesday of each month at 11AM hosted by Shir Ami via Zoom
Free to attend
For more information and to register to receive the link, please contact Emma Howitt, LPC-S, LCDC at

Volunteer for Shalom Austin JFS Food Pantry

The Client Choice Shalom Austin JFS Food Pantry is always looking to engage volunteers in food drives, packing food bags, and making deliveries. Anyone interested in getting involved in any capacity, can email Joan Eisenberg Maniere at
Also, if you know of any community members who are facing food insecurity, please have them contact Joan, and she can get them enrolled into the program.

Interest Free Loans

Hebrew Free Loan of Austin provides short-term financial support for members of the Austin Jewish community through interest-free loans that springboard you to your next step in life. Could you or someone you know use a hand-up with an interest free loan? Loans can be made available within a week or even same day in emergencies! Contact or visit
Tue, July 23 2024 17 Tammuz 5784