Rabbi Eichenholtz’s Message:


A religion that’s thousands of years old must also remain current. Judaism does that every day of our lives. Our Judaism of today is as important as shaping who we are as Jews and as a Jewish community as Judaism of other periods. What do I mean Judaism of today? I’m talking about the continual development of ritual, of liturgy, of Jewish law, of individual and communal practice and traditions.  


At the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early spring, my colleague Rabbi Michael Knopf wrote the following blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְ‑יָ אֱ‑לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל שְּׁמִירַת הַנֶּפֶשׁ

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha-olam, asher keed’shanu b’meetzvotav, v’tzeevanu al sh’meerat ha-nefesh.

You are bountiful, Infinite our God, majesty of space and time, who has sanctified us with divine commandments and has commanded us about protecting life.

We have had many long months, since Rabbi Knopf wrote that prayer and we have continued to find new and different ways to protect life, our own and the lives of others.  We have developed rituals for Zoom, and celebrated holidays in parking lots, and backyards, distanced and masked.  We’ve continued to evolve Judaism to each new day’s realities.  

And so it was no surprise that within hours of vaccines being approved, rabbis, liturgists, writers all shared their beautiful blessings and kavanot – intentions for getting the COVID-19 vaccine.  Some of these texts (see a selection below) drew on other blessings like the shehecheyanu, familiar to us from other momentous occasions.  Others took inspiration from Hanukkah, by writing of miracles in years past and miracles today.  Some blessings were deeply personal and individual, others thanked scientists, clinical trial volunteers, healthcare workers and so many others who have helped our world get to this point in addressing COVID-19.  Some spoke to God, others to the community or the world at large.  Each one has its own view that reflects the writer’s understanding but will continue to evolve each time it is recited, shared, reposted, and eventually reprinted.  

Like parts of our liturgy, written in a specific moment, some of these prayers will outlast this pandemic, they will continue to grow with Judaism and take on new significance in future generations.  But for now, may the hope of this moment and the inspiration we found to create new blessings and prayers, serve to carry us through. 

As each day becomes brighter and brighter, may our individual health and the health of our world continue to increase as well.  May this secular new year be a happy and healthy one for us all.


–Rabbi Eichenholtz


A Selection Of Blessings and Intentions for the COVID-19 Vaccine

Blessings on Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine (with thanks to the many authors who shared and Rabbi Aviva Fellman for her suggestion)


Intention When Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine

by Rabbi Deborah Miller

With gratitude for the wisdom of the scientists, the courage of the clinical trial volunteers, the dedication of the thousands of leaders and workers who made it possible for me to receive it-

May this vaccine protect me from this virus, bring peace of mind to those who hold me dear, give me strength to continue to care for those who depend upon my professional skills and compassionate presence.


A Kavanah on Receiving the Vaccine

by Rabbi Susan Elkodzi

May the one who hears prayers and requests, hear my prayer. I am about to be given a vaccine to protect me against the novel Coronavirus which has claimed so many lives this year. I am concerned. I know this vaccine might have side effects, and I pray for the strength and grace to handle any that I experience, and to accept that all medications and vaccines have potential side effects. Give me the wisdom to trust my instincts and my body, that I will know when to be concerned. Help my mind to be calm and to trust in this medication and its healing capabilities.

Divine Healer, I am grateful for those whom you have endowed with the knowledge and ability to create vaccines and medications that can protect us against or slow the progress of devastating diseases. I am grateful for my doctors and practitioners who care for me body and spirit.

May this medication/vaccine bring me healing, and may I be granted peace of mind in the knowledge that I am sheltered beneath the wings of Shekhina.

Baruch ata Ado-nai, rofeh haKol, shomei-ah t’filati.


A blessing, based on BT Brachot 60a and Birkot HaShachar

by Rabbi Aaron Starr

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה׳ אֱלֹקַי שֶׁיְּהֵא עֵסֶק זֶה לִי לִרְפוּאָה, וּתְרַפְּאֵנִי

כִּי אֵל רוֹפֵא נֶאֱמָן אָתָּה וּרְפוּאָתְךָ אֱמֶת

Yehi ratzon milifnei Adonai Elohai sheyehi esek zeh li l’refuah, v’tirpaeni ki El rofeh neeman atah u’refuartcha emet.

May it be Your will, Heavenly Healer, that this endeavor be for healing and may You grant healing to me, to my loved ones, to my nation, and to all who are in need. Fill me with a sense of gratitude for all who create, distribute, and deliver this vaccine, and for all those who work for the health of individuals and our communities. Empower me to care in good health ever more deeply for others. Blessed are You, Holy One, Healer of all flesh, sustaining our bodies in wondrous ways.      


A short kavannah for the moment of receiving the vaccine

by Rabbi Karen Reiss Medwed

בהודיה והוקרה לאל הרופא לשבורי לב ומחבש

לעצמותם התודה וההוקרה שהשראת לרופאים ולמדענים את החכמה בינה ודעת להכין חיסון זה לפננו יהי רצון מלפניך שבחיסוני זה אזכה לשמור ולרפא נפשות כל חי ולזכות במצוות המציל נפש אחת ברוך הרופא כל חולים

With gratitude and thanksgiving to The Healer of broken hearts and restorer of broken bones, appreciation and thanks for inspiring the medical teams and scientists granting them the wisdom, knowledge and expertise to prepare this vaccine for all of us. May it be your will that with my vaccination I will be granted the ability to heal and keep safe humankind and be granted the privilege to fulfill the mitzvah of one who saves a life. Blessed are you Healer of all who are sick.


A Prayer for Receiving the Covid Vaccine

by Rabbi Naomi Levy


I have been praying for this day and now it is here!

With great excitement, a touch of trepidation

And with deep gratitude

I give thanks

To all the scientists who toiled day and night

So that I might receive this tiny vaccination

That will protect me and all souls around this world.

With the pandemic still raging

I am blessed to do my part to defeat it.

Let this be the beginning of a new day,

A new time of hope, of joy, of freedom

And most of all, of health.

I thank You, God, for blessing me with life

For sustaining my life

And for enabling me to reach this awe-filled moment.






Candle Lighting Times   



Friday, Jan  1 – 4:05pm        

Friday, Jan 8 – 4:12pm

Friday, Jan 15 – 4:19pm

Friday, Jan 22 – 4:28pm

Friday, Jan 29 – 4:37pm




Service Times:

  • Thursday Morning Minyan time changefor January: We will be holding morning minyan at 7:15am or 8:30am on alternating weeks (see below)


  • Friday Kabbalat Shabbat 6:00pm


  • Saturday Shabbat Service 9:30am


**Services online or over phone**


Thursday Morning Minyan Schedule:


Jan 7: 7:15am

Jan 14: 8:30am

Jan 21: 7:15am

Jan 28: 8:30am




The office will be closed:

Friday, Jan 1

Monday, Jan 18


No Religious School:

Sunday, Jan 3

Tuesday, Jan 5

Sunday, Jan 17




Parsha Study with Rabbi Fellman and Cooking class with Rabbi Eichenholtz will resume Friday, Jan 8 at 10:00am.




If you need to make an appointment to speak to Rabbi Eichenholtz, please contact the office via phone or email to make an appointment. While the offices are closed to face-to-face meetings, Rabbi Eichenholtz is still available for consults over the phone.








Michelle Drury

From the Ma’asim Tovim Jar:

This month our Ma’asim Tovim submission recognizes Michelle Drury on the occasion of her first reading the Haftorah, for her study and dedication.



We need your submissions to the Ma’asim Tovim jar!

Did you notice someone doing something awesome? Is there a community member who deserves recognition for being great?

You may send in submissions anonymously on the postcards included in your HIgh Holiday boxes or by using the “message us” link on our website.

Or you can just email or call SJ in the office! Thanks!





If you have not yet returned your High Holiday prayer book, please contact the office as soon as possible to set up a time to return.

If you need help, let SJ in the office know!              

   (978) 534-6121 office@agudat-achim.org




Reminder: If you feel unsafe at home, help is available.


Journey to Safety is 1-781-647-JFCS (5327) –a program of Jewish Family and Children Services – Boston.


National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233 –also available by text and internet chat on their website.




Lots of new changes

to our Facebook Page!


It’s official! We are on facebook for donations.


Like our 

Congregation Agudat Achim Facebook Page – to find out all about upcoming events and items of interest


Join our 

Congregant Conversation Group – to keep in touch with each other


create your own fundraiser for CAA!




Torah Study and Cooking over Zoom

is back on January 8th!


Pirkei Avot 3:17 says

” Where there is no bread, there is no Torah; where there is no Torah, there is no bread. “


Join Rabbis Eve Eichenholtz and Rabbi Aviva Fellman for Torah and Cooking on Fridays.


Login to Congregation Beth Israel’s Zoom for Rabbi Fellman’s Parsha Study at 10:00am,

then log into CAA’s new community meeting room immediately following (around 11:00am) to continue with Congregation Agudat Achim as Rabbi Eichenholtz shares how to cook some of her favorite recipes!


Please note that these Zoom events are NOT at the regular CAA Zoom link!

Please contact  SJ in the office for the Zoom links and passwords


You will need to log out of the Torah Study meeting and then log into the Cooking meeting if you plan to attend both. Cooking will begin at approximately 11am, immediately after the Torah Study concludes.




Craft Thursdays at Beth Israel

This January, Beth Israel of Worcester invites

CAA members to join them over Zoom for

Craft Thursdays at 1:00pm

Jan 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th


We will crochet and knit blankets for Habitat for Humanity clients. You are welcome to join us to do your own crafts, or just hang out and chat.

We love company while crafting!


Contact SJ in the CAA office for the Zoom link. Thank you!




Tu B’Shevat is coming up!

Tu B’Shevat is Thursday, January 28th this year.

Watch our upcoming weekly announcements for updates on what we will be doing that week to celebrate!




Congregant’s Corner

Welcome to our Congregant’s Corner feature! The purpose of these brief sketches is to highlight members of our Agudat Achim community so that we may all get to know each other a little better. If you’d like to suggest someone else to spotlight, please contact me at 603 899-2221 or gordensteinr@elms.edu. I appreciate your feedback.  –Roberta Gordenstein



If you’ve ever enjoyed a beautiful and delicious meal at the temple, you probably have

Francine Farb to thank for it! Her husband Perry has served as her willing guinea pig over the years. Francine has been the prime mover behind so many of our temple functions because of her love of cooking. It’s only one of the ways she contributes to the life of our community, having also served on the Board, and now on the Executive Board.


Francine is one of those rare people who moved from Florida to Massachusetts, unlike the snowbirds who travel in the opposite direction. She grew up in Orlando but wanted to leave

the threat of hurricanes, so she moved around the country with her husband Perry as he did his medical school and military service in Kansas City, Omaha, Little Rock, and Georgia. When their children started speaking with a southern drawl, they decided it was time to move back to Florida.


Along the way, Francine worked with emotionally disturbed junior high school students, did speech therapy with preschoolers, and served as Perry’s office manager.


They’ve been in the Leominster area for fifteen years and immediately found a home at Agudat Achim when they met the Sarafconns their first Rosh Hashanah here. They made friends quickly because of their common love of Judaism. Everyone in the shul became part of their family and they began their tradition of inviting other members to break the fast with them after Yom Kippur.


Francine enjoys her work on the Board, feeling that everyone is working together for the good of the synagogue. The members are a wonderful, hard-working group of people. She calls herself a “hug person” and has brought that tradition to the shul. It’s her way to be warm and welcoming.


Besides her husband Perry and daughter Lauren who are enthusiastic helpers in putting together these creative meals, Francine has a daughter, Rochelle, and son Aaron, and two grandchildren, with a third on the way. The entire Farb family plays a large part in making Agudat Achim the wonderful place it is!




Thank you to everyone who donated

to our “Giving Tuesday” Facebook fundraiser last month!

Congregation Agudat Achim is very grateful for your support



Yahrzeits for January 2021

Jan 1 – 9

Arthur Aronson, Max Bever, Harry Gibber, Celia Meyer, Terry Davis, Lily Kubitsky, Joseph Meyerson, Minnie Hard, Bertha Rudnick, Helen Dietz, Simon Zibel, Beatrice Berkowitz, Nathan Grossman, Felix Heimberg, Jules Jaffe, Samuel Rosin, Gertrude Saperstein, Yetta Silverman, Lois Williams, Ann Chernoff, Liba Sarah Cohen, Marjorie Pariser, Elizabeth Forgelman, Jennie Tankel


Jan 10 – 16

Eleanor Garber, Lillian Garston, Rose Medoff, Sylvia G. Rome, Diane Christy, Samuel Resnick, Samuel Silverstein, Eleanor Lustig, Fannie Charney Shuman, Jay Rome, Julia

Weller, Max Levine, Irving Novick, Sarah Pulda, Miriam Rosenberg, Helen Salny, Annie Cohen, Louis Jaffe, Sonia Lew, Anne Sacks, Henrietta Schear, Gussy Shack, Doris Braune, Mark Claman

Etta Jacobson, David Lubin, Dora Winthrop


Jan 17 – 23

Morris Dubinsky, Rabbi Eric Lowenthal, Seymour Yalen, Harry Gerber, Louis Gutman, Elliott Linsky, Anita Messerman, Ida Witzky, Edward Fields, Anne Parnes, Samuel Poppel, Ida Shane, Abraham Friedman, Ida Lewis, Etta Dansky, Sol Flamholtz, Rebecca Schechtman, Hyman Solomon, Irwin Casper, Morris Glick, Joseph Litsky, Albert Moak, Theodore Stern, Lawrence (Noah) Kirk, Isadore Levine, Etta Porter, Martha Roth, Netty Sachs, Max Sandrof, Freda Selig


Jan 24 – 31

Nathan Bass, Lawrence Hausman, Lester Kahn, Joseph Miller, Minnie Miller, Max Poppel, Evelyn Silberberg, Lewis Brodsky, Sadie Burnim, Laby Lowis, Rubin Sidlower, Lovick Frankel, Joseph Rome, Dora Wyse, Louis Bernhardt, Norman Feingold, Sophie Goldberg, Brenda Green, Edward Portnoy, Harry Sobel, Joseph Long, Rabbi Joseph Shragowitz, Frieda Cohen, Nathan Cohen, Louis Slarskey, Milton Zais, Samuel Feigar, Minnie Gerber






>>Friday, Jan 1: Office Closed

Kabbalat Shabbat via Zoom 6:00pm


Saturday, Jan 2: Shabbat Services via Zoom 9:30am


>>Sunday, Jan 3: No Religious School


>>Tuesday, Jan 5: No Religious School


Thursday, Jan 7: Morning Minyan via Zoom 7:15am (early time this week)


>>Friday, Jan 8: Zoom Parsha Study 10:00am

Zoom Cooking Class following Parsha Study

Kabbalat Shabbat via Zoom 6:00pm


Saturday, Jan 9: Shabbat Services via Zoom 9:30am


>>Monday, Jan 11: Board meeting 7:30pm


Thursday, Jan 14: Morning Minyan via Zoom 8:30am


Friday, Jan 15: Zoom Parsha Study 10:00am

Zoom Cooking Class following Parsha Study

Kabbalat Shabbat via Zoom 6:00pm


Saturday, Jan 16: Shabbat Services via Zoom 9:30am

>>Sunday, Jan 17: No Religious School


>>Monday, Jan 18: Office closed


Thursday, Jan 21: Morning Minyan via Zoom 7:15am


Friday, Jan 22: Zoom Parsha Study 10:00am

Zoom Cooking Class following Parsha Study

Kabbalat Shabbat via Zoom 6:00pm


Saturday, Jan 23: Shabbat Services via Zoom 9:30am


Thursday, Jan 28: Morning Minyan via Zoom 8:30am


Friday, Jan 29: Zoom Parsha Study 10:00am

Zoom Cooking Class following Parsha Study

Kabbalat Shabbat via Zoom 6:00pm


Saturday, Jan 30: Shabbat Services via Zoom 9:30am



**Services will remain available via phone and online. We will let you know when more services become available in person. Thank you for your patience and adaptability!



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