News of Otsego County

Temple Beth El

‘Prayer For Peace” Premiered At Temple Beth El Concert

‘Prayer For Peace’ Begins

At Temple Beth El Concert

Above, members of Eight is Eneuf sing “Prayer for Peace”, written by Robin Eletsky, Milford, in it’s first public performance at Temple Beth El in Oneonta this afternoon during the Music From Around The World concert to celebrate our shared humanity. Musical guests included Rabbi George Hirschfeld, Ana Laura Gonzalez, Stan Fox and Andy Puritz. Among the audience was Maciej Żółtowski, newly chosen conductor of the Catskill Symphony Orchestra, seen at right, applauding alongside Laurie Zimniewicz, Oneonta. (Ian Austin/


Global Music Celebration


MUSIC – 2 p.m. Celebrate shared humanity with musical selections from South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, others. Performers include clarinetist Robin Seletsky, flutist Ana Laura Gonzalez, pianist Michael Bauer, a capella ensemble Eight is Eneuf. Free, open to public. Temple Beth El, 83 Chestnut St., Oneonta. 607-286-9085 or visit

Happy Chanukah!

Happy Hanukkah!

Crowd Marks First Night

On Muller Plaza Menorah

In celebration of the first night of Hanukkah, Jeff Rebinowitz, Temple Beth El, lights the first candle on the Menorah during the third annual Hanukkah celebration in Muller Plaza this evening. Before the lighting, Rabbi Meir Rubashkin, seen in lower left, shared his thoughts with the crowd, urging them, “Ask ourselves how we can add kindness and positivity to the world in ways that is outside the norm? You gotta be a little nuts in how you spread your light in the world. We can overcome darkness, and it will be a catalyst to something greater.” Following the lighting, guests enjoyed hot cider, apple sauce, latkes, gilt and more. (Ian Austin/

Create Thanksgiving Centerpiece


ANGEL TREE PROGRAM – Give the Gift of Christmas this holiday season. Adopt a family in need. Visit to learn how.

PUMPKIN CENTERPIECE – 6 – 7 p.m. Get ready for Thanksgiving with Branch & Bloom. Create a centerpiece from pumpkins, fresh flowers to take home. Registration required, cost $10/person. Huntington Memorial Library, 62 Chestnut St., Oneonta. 607-432-1980 or visit

When Baby, Rabbi’s Family Fled Hungary’s Repression

When Baby, Rabbi’s Family

Fled Hungary’s Repression

George Hirschfeld Joins Temple Beth El

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

ONEONTA – Rabbi George Hirschfeld’s path to Otsego County was hardly a direct one.

Rabbi Hirschfield

The new spiritual leader of Temple Beth El, which serves both Oneonta and Cooperstown, was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1949, the same year the Soviet Union installed a Communist regime there.

Hirschfeld’s parents, who survived the Holocaust but lost nearly all of their family members in it, tried to leave for Israel, but they were caught at the border.  Hirschfeld’s father was put in jail for five months and his mother for two. Hirschfeld, an infant, was in the cell with her.

“I was a jailbird,” he joked.

Oneonta Temple Will Vote On Rabbi Karp’s Successor

Oneonta Temple Will Vote

On Rabbi Karp’s Successor

Rabbi Karp

ONEONTA – At Temple Beth El’s 84th annual Congregational Meeting at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 9, members will vote on a successor to Rabbi Molly Karp, who has served locally for almost five years.

Rabbi Karp will also be honored at a farewell luncheon at noon, June 15, in the congregation’s social hall.

Since 2014, while serving the Oneonta temple on a parttime basis, Rabbi Karp served as a faculty member at the Golda Och Academy in West Orange, N.J., and teaches Torah, Hebrew, Bible and other aspects of Judaism to teens and adults in a wide variety of venues.

Rabbi Donald Roberts; Served Temple Beth El


Rabbi Donald Roberts;

Served Temple Beth El

ONEONTA – Rabbi Emeritus Donald Neil Roberts, who served Oneonta’s Temple Beth El for 22 years, passed away peacefully early Monday morning, May 6, 2019, following a short illness.

He was born in the Bronx, to Irving and Florence (Sherman) Roberts.  In 1967, he graduated from the Hebrew Union College with a bachelor’s degree in Sacred Music and received an honorary doctorate from Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music in 2007. His rabbinic ordination was earned in 1990.

He married Barbara (Rapp) Roberts in 1977, with whom he shared his personal and professional life for 42 years.

Oneonta MLK Day Celebration Postponed Until Feb. 3

Oneonta MLK Day Activity

Is Postponed Until Feb. 3

Martin Luther King Jr.

ONEONTA – Citing Winter Storm Harper, the Oneonta Branch of the NAACP has postponed today’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration until next Sunday, Feb. 3. The service will be held from 2-4 p.m. at Temple Beth El Synagogue, 83 Chestnut Street, Oneonta.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day service at the First Presbyterian Church in Cooperstown is still scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21.

‘I Have A Dream’ Rendering To Commemorate Dr. King

‘I Have A Dream’ Rendering

To Commemorate Dr. King

Reginald Brunson

ONEONTA – Reginald Brunson’s rendering of the “I Have a Dream” speech and clarinetist Robin Seletsky’s original composition, “Rise Above,” will highlight Martin Luther King Day commemorations 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, at Temple Beth El, 83 Chestnut St.

Organized by the Oneonta Branch, NAACP, those marking Dr. King’s 90th birthday will be Mayor Gary Herzig, the NAACP’s Lee Fisher, the USCT’s Harry Bradshaw Matthews, Temple Beth El’s Ken Sider and Fair for All’s Christina Hunt.

The theme, “Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere,” was central to King’s 1963 “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.”

With Kaddish, Interfaith Prayers, Oneonta Mourns Pittsburgh Dead

With Kaddish, Interfaith Prayer,

County Mourns Pittsburgh Dead

Cooperstown Village Trustee Richard Sternberg, right, speaks with Rev. Elsie Rhodes, Cooperstown and Rev. LaDana Clark, Oneonta, during a vigil at Temple Beth El earlier this evening. (Ian Austin/

By CATHY NARDI • Special to

Alice Lichtenstein, Oneonta, wipes away a tear as she listens to the words of Bernadette Winters-Bell as she read “Tree of Life”

ONEONTA – Unity among the diverse community members was the subject of Tuesday’s vigil for the 11 Jewish worshipers killed in Pittsburgh by a white supremacist gunman during services on Saturday, Oct. 27.

The message of solidarity was given to a crowd of supporters who were hard-pressed to fit inside Temple Beth El in Oneonta.

“Tonight we morn the victims,” said Temple Beth El president, Ken Sider. “And we are grateful for your support. Thank you.”

Sider said the Jewish community felt safe in America until recently.

Tree of Life Remembrances In Oneonta, Cooperstown

Tree of Life Remembrances

In Oneonta, Cooperstown

A service in Oneonta and vigil in Cooperstown are planned in response to Saturday’s shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in suburban Pittsburgh. There were 11 fatalities and six injuries.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, a memorial service is planned at Oneonta’s Temple Beth El, 83 Chestnut St.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Village Trustee Richard Sternberg has organized a vigil in the second-floor ballroom at Cooperstown Village Hall, 22 Main St.

Shabbat Focus:  Refugee Policy, Tonight At Oneonta Synagogue

Shabbat Focus:  Refugee Policy,

Tonight At Oneonta Synagogue

Cooperstown artist Christine Heller’s Syrian refugee portraits are hanging in the sanctuary at Oneonta’s Temple Beth El in advance of this evening’s National Refugee Shabbat at 7 p.m. at the synagogue at 38 Chestnut St., Oneonta. Mayor Gary Herzig will provide the welcome. Speakers include Dr. Brett Heindl on “Welcome the Stranger: US Immigration and Refugee Policy during the Trump Era”, and Dr. Bill Simons on “A History of Immigration.” Music will be provided by Daniel Kohler on clarinet and Michael Bauer on piano
George Betts, 84; Social Worker Turned To Farming

IN MEMORIAM: George Betts, 84;

Social Worker Turned To Farming

WORCESTER – George Betts, 84, of a social worker in New York City before moving here in 1984 to pursue farming, passed away on Oct. 2, 2018. He died peacefully after a long illness.

George was born June 30, 1934 in Highland Park, Ill., the son of Harlan and Ida Jane Betts.

He and his wife Regina met at an Off -Broadway theatre in New York City, where they both worked. They were married 61 years.

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