Reset, Renew, and Prepare for 5781

Dear Members and Friends of the Lake Chapala Jewish Congregation:

This year, as the High Holy Days approach and we prepare to celebrate the start of 5781, we know we will be unable to physically gather. This is sad and disappointing. We rely on these important Jewish holidays to reset, renew and prepare for the year ahead. And while we may still be able to worship and share together the holiness of these special days, we realize it can only be through a shared virtual experience.

However, the changed experience this year shouldn’t dampen our expectations or enthusiasm for Jewish life in our community.  Here, through the Lake Chapala Jewish Congregation, we continue to have regular Friday night and Saturday morning worship, as well as Torah study via Zoom.  In addition, plans are underway for various religious-related virtual guest-lecturers, discussion groups, and so on regarding issues of concern to Jews here and all over the world, with opportunities for online participation.  Plans are underway, as well, for several non-religious activities to bring some fun into our somewhat cloistered lives—challah-baking, games, and other collaborative online activities to help us keep our connections and fellowship strong.  Please check your email for weekly updates through our bulletin, El Shofar.

As the new year approaches, so does our recommitment to supporting our only synagogue in the area.  As is clear from news around the world, we know that we are not alone in being isolated from each other, unable to attend in-person worship services and events we’ve become accustomed to.  However, in order to have a vital and viable place of worship and social gathering center on the other side of this global catastrophe, the expenses of regular upkeep remain.  These expenses include the following, (among others):

Regular maintenance of the building and gardens
Cemetery maintenance

In addition to continuing expenses, we cannot foresee many–if any–opportunities for fundraising in the near future, which we’ve always depended upon to supplement membership dues and donations. So, as you can see, we are more dependent than ever on our membership to help us get through this difficult coming year. We must maintain our financial solvency and be ready to welcome all of our community once again when the crisis has passed.

We urge all of our current and past members to renew your membership to bolster not only our operating funds but to show solidarity with each other in this troubling time.  Also, if you’ve considered membership but haven’t yet done it, please reconsider and be a part of our vital community. You may also choose to honor loved ones through donations in their names or adding the names of loved ones who have passed on to our yahrzeit board. Our current membership dues remain unchanged from last year: 6000 pesos person.  However, we never turn anyone away because of financial hardship. Please contact me ( or Robin Hayden, our treasurer ( to discuss any such issue.

We look forward to a rapid end to the virus that encompasses our world. But be assured that with your support, we will do everything within our power to keep the light of the NerTamid glowing in our hearts, in our sanctuary and in our community.


Betty Shiffman
Membership Chair,
Lake Chapala Jewish Congregation

Membership Enrollment Form

How to Renew 

new year

High Holy Days Services

Your Board of Directors continue to put your health and safety as priority in this global pandemic. Therefore, we will be offering short HHD services led by David Rosett.

In addition to our own offerings, LCJC is providing links to four outstanding synagogues, Reconstructionist, Reform and Conservative, which will be having more extensive services.

Services hosted by David Rosett:

3. Erev Yom Kippur (Kol Nidre) (Español)
Sunday September 27, 2020. 17:00
Meeting ID:  830 1214 5266
Password:  708594

4. Ne’ilah (English)
Monday September 28, 2020. 17:00
Meeting ID:  845 4639 8791
Password:  727982

Chag Sameach!  I am including the following two texts, each one for the services I am leading in English:  one for the first night of Erev Rosh Hashanah, and the other for Ne’ilah, the last service on Yom Kippur. (See David Rosett’s Services above.)  I will be using the scroll function on Zoom, but if you prefer to have your own copy, you may print these out and read along.  (It may be easier on the eyes.) One text is 12 pages and the other 13 pages, so you won’t have to fidget for very long!  Thanks to OneShul for providing the template.

Click below to go to Newsletter for downloads and links to three outstanding synagogues, Reconstructionist, Reform and Conservative, which will be having more extensive services.

Reconstructionist Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta, Georgia

Conservative Park Avenue Synagogue In NYC

Reform Central Synagogue in NYC

From our sister Congregation B’er Chayim Temple in Cumberland Maryland

On Zoom- Meeting id is 899 9050 9627 and the password is Shalom.

Our schedule for the high holidays is as follows:
(All times are EST)

Sunday, September 27  Erev Yom Kippur  7-9
Monday, September 28  Yom Kippur  10-1
Monday, September 28  Afternoon Service  3-7
Monday, September 28  Yizkor  apprx. 5

Friday, October 2  Erev Sukkot  7:30
Saturday, October 3  Shabbat Service  10

Friday, October 9  Shimini Atzerret & Simchat Torah 7:30

*The sign on for the holidays will be the same as Friday nights.


LJCJ Book Club

Do you love to read?  Do you enjoy Israeli authors, Jewish themes, a bit of spiritual education?

The LCJC Book Club is for YOU.  We will be choosing books related to Jewish culture, religion, authors, and history. 

The first book is:  The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew and the Heart of the Middle East, by Sandy Tolan

This is a book about a 35-year friendship in the aftermath of the 1967 war.

This was a Goodreads book, which came recommended by a congregant. Sandy Tolan is an award winning, best-selling author who is a professor at University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in Los Angeles.

It is available on Amazon for about $10 USD and is free on Overdrive.

Susana Greenberg is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: LCJC Book Club
Time: Oct 13, 2020 01:00 PM Mexico City

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 883 8140 5621
Passcode: 779072


David’s Corner – September 14, 2020

Rosh Hashana 1st and 2nd Days: Genesis 22:1-24

Seven months ago we felt we were in great shape.   Synagogue was a place we looked forward to being and all we had to do was show up.

Then the unexpected happened.  A pandemic reared its ugly head and we lost our bearings.  Synagogue?  It has existed on a computer screen where people talk to each other through a rough app called zoom.  We can see and hear one another, but it pales in terms of what we had before.  

Should we just give up?  That would be the expected thing, right?

But wait a minute. Think of Sarah.  Her deepest wish was to have her own child.  Now at a late menopausal age, when it would seem impossible for this to occur, she is told by HaShem that she will indeed have a child.  She laughs her head off and, as a result, her newborn son gains a name:  Itzhak.

A little too cheerful for your taste?  The very next portion, which we read on the second day, has unexpected happenings to the fourth degree.  First of all, out of the blue, HaShem tells Abraham to take his son up the mountain and sacrifice him.  Secondly, Abraham, with heavy heart, agrees.  And thirdly, what of Yitzhak?  Does he resist?  He does not.  So there we all are expecting the worst.  

But it doesn’t happen.  HaShem sends an angel (who else?) to tell Abraham to cease and desist.  All of a sudden a ram appears and so for the fourth time in this story, the unexpected happens:  Abraham gains a special status from HaShem for himself and for his descendants.  

And we’re worried about Zoom working or not?  Here’s something unexpected:  we have expanded services from our usual one to seven, and in two languages.  Not only that, but some of the services  are here in the Chapala-Guadalajara area and at least three are in the United States. Enjoy!   L’shana tova!

David’s Corner – September 7, 2020

Nitzavim-Va-Lech (Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30)

HaShem works in mysterious ways…

Remember how in Ki Tavo, the last parasha, HaShem appeared to hit the Israelites with tough love?  By this I mean, if the Israelites did not obey all of HaShem’s commandments they would be destroyed by plague and disease and would be scattered to the ends of the earth, where they would lose all sense of HaShem atnd would worship only other Gods.  (Deut. 28:58-67)

In this week’s parasha, Nitzavim, HaShem, to use a phrase now popular in our time, “walks back” a bit what he had said earlier.  HaShem, instead of describing our fall as permanent, says we’ll be taken back in HaShem’s love if we return to worshipping the Lord our God.  Further, HaShem will “restore our fortunes.”   (Deut. 30:1-3). 

The key question for this week is why does HaShem amend what he has previously threatened?

One possible answer is that Moses, once again, and most likely for the last time, has persuaded HaShem to be more lenient.  

Another possible answer is that HaShem must realize that a permanent exile is a dead end.  Who would be left to worship HaShem?  What value would be all the remarkable commandments without someone to observe them?

We have, after all, established a covenant with HaShem.  And that covenant is so important, that even “the stranger within your camp” is to participate in the covenant ceremony.  (Deut. 29:9-11)

So it seems logical that HaShem decides to give wayward Israelites the opportunity to return to the covenant.  Moreover, part of that return can take place each and every year as part of the month of Ellul, when we grapple with how we have missed the mark and reflect on improving our connection with HaShem.

What do you think?  Write me at

David’s Corner – El Shofar September

Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1 - 29:8)

As we are now well into the month Elul, our thoughts turn to our own lives, and how we have fallen short.  The parasha of Shoftim has been one we have turned to in lifting our expectations to do better, to be more just.  And we have not always been just, either in our relations with our close ones or with strangers.

So HaShem in this week’s parasha, Ki Tavo, challenges us in the extreme, with the toughest of love.  Beginning in Deuteronomy 28:58, HaShem pushes us to “observe faithfully  all the terms of  this Teaching that are written in this book.” (my emphasis) 

And if we fail?  Diseases and plagues will wipe us out.  “You will be a scant few, after having been as numerous as the stars in the skies, because you did not heed the command of the Lord our God.“ (28:62).  What is more, we will be scattered “from one end of the earth to the other,” (28:64) and will serve other Gods, which, in the long term, will make us despondent and useless.

It is tempting to view all this as a sort of prophecy of all that would befall the Jewish people over time.  Yet we know full well that it is next to impossible for even the most Orthodox Jews to observe all the commandments.  And truly, as more liberal Jews, we give pause to those commandments that discriminate against gender and gay people.   

So how are we to take on this harsh passage?  If we acknowledge that we are responsible for everything we do, perhaps the portion can serve as a goad, to at least wrestle with, if not totally obey the commandments laid out for us.  If we do this with sincerity and constancy, we serve both HaShem and the spirit of Elul.

What do you think?  Write me at

David’s Corner – August 24, 2020

Ki Tetsay. (Deutoronomy 21:10 - 25:19)

The parasha ends with the troublesome warning about Amalek.  The Israelites are to destroy the Amalekites for a surprise attack that killed off  the stragglers, the hungry and and the tired, during the march from Egypt.

Initially, this would seem straightforward enough. Amalek has acted in an unethical way on the field of battle and so the victims must be avenged.  The Israelites are instructed to “blot out the memory of Amalek from under Heaven.” (Deut. 25:19)

Over time, in the Jewish tradition, Amalek has become the symbol of murderous, genocidal anti-semites,  These include the villainous Haman in Esther, and Adolph Hitler.   On Purim, in fact, this warning about Amalek is read in synagogues.  The thought is that we are compelled to destroy those who would destroy us.

But there is a troubling question. Is it appropriate to completely destroy

a people out of self-defense, vengeance, or fear?  

Let’s take the Nazis.  The Nazis murdered millions of Europeans, including 6,000,000 Jews.  They used as a rationale the threat to their pure race posed by so called inferior races.  How to deal with this unspeakable evil?  When the Nazis were defeated in battle, their leaders were tried in the first war crimes tribunal at Nuremberg, and were hung.  In this way, the Nazi state was, and should have been, destroyed.  

But the defeated German people were not all murdered in a genocide.  Should they have been?  If so, would we ever have experienced how close Germany has become to the State of Israel?  Without forgiveness, how can there be redemption?

  What’s your reaction?  Write me at    

Security of the Shul

Security of the Shul

Message from your Maintenance Manager 
Neal Hayden

Last year we experienced a failed attempt at someone trying to break into the shul. Later that year we received our beloved new Torah. 

These events inspired the formation of a Security Committee. In March 2019, the Board approved the Committee’s recommendations which have subsequently been implemented. The security improvements are as follows: 

The Torahs have been placed in a twice secured area.

Security Cameras: 

 Several cameras have been installed around the facility. These cameras are activated by motion and video feed is stored in the cloud. When motion is detected, notifications are sent out and the cameras are activated. Remotely, we can monitor the recording history and live feed 24/7. 

Fence Enhancements: 

Surrounding the building is a cyclone fence, which is covered by wonderful bougainvillea plants. Decorative spikes have been installed at the top of the fence to prevent people from climbing over it. 

Member and Visitor Safety 

Given our changing environment, the Security Committee recommended locking down the shul during events. A metal mesh has been installed around the lock on the front gate. This way, when the front gate is closed, it automatically locks. The gate may only be unlocked from the sidewalk using a key. However, if a member wants to leave, they may do so without a key. The gate will be closed 10 minutes after the start of services or events. When services are over and the building is locked up, the front gate still requires a key to double lock it. 


In anyone has any suggestions, concerns or questions about shul security please contact 


Santa Margarita #113, Riberas del Pilar

Jalisco, México

C.P. 45900

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Grab a Cup of Coffee and Learn Online
with Melton ALL WEEK LONG!

Melton is pleased to offer, at no cost, a selection of sessions from our extensive course library ONLINE to learners around the world via Zoom.


Freedom is a State of Mind: Passover 2020

Revisit the story of the Exodus from Egypt, considering its implications for our lives this year. The final lesson will offer a review of the Passover seder accompanied by some tips for current, relevant table discussions.

with Rabbi Dr. Morey Schwartz, Melton International Director

Three Mondays: March 23, 30; April 6, 2020
9 AM PDT/  11 AM CDT/  Noon EDT/  6 PM SAS


From Sinai to Seinfeld: Jews and Their Jokes

 Right now, many of us could use a good laugh! Treating Jewish jokes as text, this course invites learners to analyze and interpret the evolving concerns, styles, rhythms, preoccupations, and values of the Jewish people that lie buried deep in words that make us laugh and bond us as a people.

with Cantor Mark Childs, Santa Barbara

Four Tuesdays: March 24, 31; April 21, 28, 2020
5 PM PDT  /  7 PM CDT  /  8 PM EDT
(Wednesday at 11 AM AEDT, and 10 AM AEST after April 5th time change)


Leviticus (Vayikra): A Call To Holiness

 As our Torah reading cycle approaches the book of Leviticus, join us for a textual study of selected passages. This course uncovers the depth and wisdom of the third book of the Torah and reveals its enduring messages that touch our lives to this very day.

with Judy Snowbell Diamond, Course Author & Melton Coordinator of Educational Projects

Four Wednesdays: March 25; April 1, 22, 29, 2020
9 AM PDT/  11 AM CDT/  Noon EDT/  6 PM SAST


Jewish Medical Ethics:
A 21st Century Discussion

 While contemporary medical knowledge preserves life, modern advances have raised moral and ethical dilemmas related to the sanctity and dignity of life – issues whose scope was unimaginable a generation ago. This course will explore the many Jewish approaches to a variety of 21st century ethical issues.

with Dr. Sandra Lilienthal, Melton Master Teacher in Miami and Boca Raton

Four Thursdays: March 26; APRIL 2, 23, 30, 2020

Noon PDT  /  2 PM CDT  /  3 PM EDT

(Friday at 6 AM AEDT, and 5 AM AEST after April 5th time change)

Courses are being offered at no charge, although donations will be gratefully accepted. In place of books, registered learners will receive lessons electronically.

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Tel: 1-847-714-9843

Dancing in the Streets

Dancing in the Streets

Get ready!  Members of the Lake Chapala Jewish Congregation will joyfully celebrate the gift of their new Torah on October 22, 2019.

Celebrants will gather at Pancho’s Deli on the Carretera at 11 a.m. before a rousing parade to deliver the Torah to its new home.  The Torah will be carried under a “chuppah” (a traditional marriage canopy). The parade will include dancing horses and Klezmer music. The procession will end at the Lake Chapala Jewish Congregation at #113 Santa Margarita, Riberas de Pilar, where there will be dancing in the courtyard of the synagogue.

The Torah contains the first five books of the Old Testament and is the primary document of Judaism, containing within it all of the biblical laws of the faith.

Ajijic resident, Jan Braverman, reached out to her former hometown of Cumberland, Maryland when she realized that the Torah here was becoming difficult to read.  The members of Congregation B’er Chayim, one of the oldest congregations in the United States, offered to share a Torah with the Lakeside Jewish Community and bring it to its new home. Eight temple members, including the Rabbi and President Doug Schwab will escort the Torah from Maryland to Lakeside.

“This Torah scroll from Congregation B’er Chayim is a beautiful addition to our community as it represents the unbroken chain of Jewish tradition and survival,” said Maureen Sullivan President of The Lake Chapala Jewish Congregation.

Following the procession, The Lake Chapala Jewish Congregation will celebrate the holiday of Simchat Torah which marks the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah reading and the beginning of a new cycle. The congregation welcomes the public to share in the festivities.  

Anyone who would like to help or contribute to our new Torah Celebration, contact Jan Braverman at