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Hazak logoHochmah: Wisdom
Ziknah: Maturity
Kadima: Looking Ahead


Hazak is the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s organization that supports programming for folks 55+.At Beth Emeth, HAZAK is a congenial group who want to continue to grow their Jewish and world understanding in a friendly and welcoming environment. Adults of any age are encouraged to attend! Be a member, be a guest or bring a guest. Hazak members do not need to be Congregation Beth Emeth members.

Events are online on Zoom, and most will also be in person in the 2022-23 "school year." They are generally the second or third Tuesday of each month, and recently moved to evening times so everyone can participate in Hazak-sponsored events.  

We engage with a wide variety of accomplished speakers and authors, enjoy film discussions and, of course, we nosh and schmooze. See below, and look for schedule updates in the Weekly Announcements. the Shofar, and the online Calendar.

To get on the email list and receive updates with Zoom links, please contact

Join Hazak

Have you renewed your membership? Don't miss out. Dues are only $18.00 for the entire 10 month program. Join in advance or at the door. Checks should be made payable to CBE Hazak. Click here to download and print the membership form.

Questions About Hazak?

Contact Larry at We also welcome ideas for future speakers.

5783/2022-23 Hazak Events

Note: Programs are subject to change if speakers become unavailable. (See also: Calendar)

Date Guest Speaker and Topic

Sept 13,
2022, 7:30 PM

(In person and Zoom) 

Robin Schulman: Antisemitism and Religious Repression: What is the State Department Doing?

Did you know that the State Department has offices that advance U.S. foreign policy on antisemitism and religious freedom? Join our longtime congregant, Robin Schulman as she discusses what the State Department does to address Jewish and religious issues overseas. Robin will also share a few of her most interesting experiences in this area.

Robin has been a Foreign Affairs Officer with the U.S. Department of State for 31 years. After 17 years in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, she joined the Office of International Religious Freedom in Feb 2016. Her portfolio includes South and Central Asia with particular emphasis on Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. Robin earned her B.A. from the University of California, San Diego and her MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

October 11, 7:30 PM

(In person and Zoom)

Stan Feuerberg: The challenges for the US electric energy supply and the electrification of the nation's transportation system

EVs have captured the imaginations of futurists, vehicle manufacturers, and public officials at local, state, and federal levels. Challenges lie ahead - battery technology remains in its infancy, recharging depleted batteries requires electric infrastructure enhancements, procuring the raw materials for the manufacture of batteries has become increasingly difficult, and the disposal of spent batteries has significant environmental impacts that are rarely discussed. Stan will address these and related issues.

Stan Feuerberg recently retired after 46 years in the energy industry, most recently serving 30 years as the President and CEO of NOVEC, the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative.  NOVEC is the electric energy provider to 178,000 customers in six counties in Northern Virginia, and for 23 consecutive years was the DC Metro area’s most reliable electric utility company.  In addition to his position as NOVEC CEO, Stan was also the chairman of the board of NOVEC’s subsidiaries, NOVEC Energy Solutions, a natural gas marketer in six states, NOVEC Solutions, a fiber optic company holding four US patents for simultaneous bi-directional transmission of data over a single optical fiber, NOVEC Energy Production, owner of a 50,000-kilowatt renewable energy biomass generation plant fueled by waste wood located in Halifax County, Virginia, and NOVEC Holdings.

Prior to moving to Virginia in 1992, Stan was the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Vermont Electric Power Company and before that he was the General Counsel for the Western Area Power Administration in the US Department of Energy.  Stan earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering (BSEE) and a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  He has been a member of the Nebraska bar since 1979.

November 15, 7:30 PM
(In person and Zoom)

Ambassador John Withers II: Jews in Albania during World War II

In the autumn of 1943, the armies of Nazi Germany invaded Albania, a small, impoverished country on the Adriatic Sea in southwestern Europe. At that moment, if you were Jewish and living elsewhere in Europe, your chance of survival was poor, as the Nazis and their collaborators were systematically murdering two-thirds of the Jews in Europe. But Albania was different. If you were Jewish and living in Albania, your chance of survival was nearly one hundred percent. Indeed, by war's end, it appears that no Jew who had placed himself under Albanian protection was lost to the Holocaust.

Throughout the country, the Albanian people rose to protect the Jews -- not only their indigenous Jewish population, but also the thousands who fled from elsewhere in Europe in search of sanctuary. They sheltered Jewish families in their own homes, created Albanian identities for them, moved them from one location to another to avoid German search parties, and refused to bend to pressure to disclose the whereabouts of their Jewish brethren. German demands to surrender Jews went unheeded as did German commands that Jews assemble in town and city squares for transportation to the death camps.

What moved the Albanians to protect people, so often strangers, at such risk to themselves? They had no military to resist the Germans. They had no government to coordinate their activities. They possessed few personal resources themselves. What they had, instead, was devotion to their ancient heritage: the storied Albanian tradition of "besa" that requires succoring those in need. "Besa" is a word that doesn't translate well into English. It denotes something firmer than a promise, something greater than honor, something rather that marks an individual's worth in the moral courage and personal integrity that guides his way through life. Moved by "besa," Albania saved its Jews. 

Speaker Bio

Born on November 1, 1948 in High Point, North Carolina, I spent much of my childhood abroad when my parents joined the Foreign Service in 1957. Our assignments included Laos, Thailand, Burma, Korea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and India. My own career later took me to the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Latvia, Slovenia, and Albania.  

Beyond my diplomatic work, I researched in my private time an incident in my father’s World War II service in which he and his African-American quartermaster company rescued two young Jewish Holocaust survivors from the Dachau concentration camp. I eventually reunited him with one of the men fifty-five years later. The episode, which is the subject of my book "Balm in Gilead: A Story from the War", gained the attention of television, major newspapers, and humanitarian institutions. 

On a separate front, two singular honors were accorded my work as American Ambassador to Albania. In November 2012, in marking the one hundredth anniversary of the country’s independence, the city of Vlora, the cradle of Albanian liberty, made me an honorary citizen for my strong advocacy of Albanian democracy. Three years later, Albania’s capital, Tirana, awarded me the key to the city. I am married to Maryruth Coleman, a Senior Foreign Officer. I retired from the State Department in 2010, and am an avid tennis player, an amateur Chinese cook, and an aspiring writer.

December 13,
7:30 PM
(In person and Zoom)

Rabbi Warner Ferratier ("Rabbi Warner"): Miracles, Then and Now

Speaker Bio

Our own Rabbi Warner was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois. He received his undergraduate degree in History at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, with minors in Secondary Education and Teaching of Spanish. He taught a variety of subjects in the Champaign public schools, where he also supervised several extra-curricular activities and was active in the local teachers’ union. 

His activity within the local Jewish community eventually led him to pursue the rabbinate as a calling. After a preparatory year studying at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, he entered the Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, from which he received ordination in May, 2019 with a Master’s degree in Midrash. 

Rabbi Warner has been employed as the student rabbi both at Congregation Sons of Israel in Amsterdam, New York and at Congregation Torat El in Oakhurst, New Jersey, and was most recently the assistant rabbi at Congregation Beth Shalom in Northbrook, IL. In his spare time he enjoys reading many types of literature, practicing music, pub trivia, walking his dog, and crafting. 

January 10, 2023, 7:30 PM
(In person and Zoom)

Susan & Shawn Dilles: The History of Jewish NoVA

Congregation Beth Emeth (CBE) members Susan & Shawn Dilles have co-authored The Jewish Community of Northern Virginia, a book published in November 2022 and available on Amazon*. The book uses photographs to tell the story of the rich history, continued growth, and broad range of Jewish life in Northern Virginia. They depict Jewish-owned stores and businesses, religious and social institutions, and events that have shaped the community from the late 19th Century to the present. This collection of rarely seen photographs was selected from local historical archives, Jewish religious and social institutions, and residents with deep family roots in the area.

The authors have been active members of the Northern Virginia Jewish Community for almost 40 years, including at Congregation Olam Tikvah, Congregation Beth Emeth, and the Pozez Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia. Susan supports activities of several Jewish charities in the area. Shawn is a volunteer with JewishGen and has coordinated the translation of Yizkor (Remembrance) books on the Jewish history of Zinkov, Ukraine and Hrubieszow, Poland. Shawn has also recently started re-organizing the CBE Library.

* CBE is an Amazon Associate. Using this link to purchase the book will result in CBE receiving a small donation from Amazon, without changing your price.

February 14,

Rabbi Bruce Aft: A Psychological Look at Biblical characters

Speaker Bio

Rabbi Bruce D. Aft was Interim Rabbi at Beth Emeth in 2021-22, and was Interim Rabbi for Congregation Sha'are Shalom in Leesburg, VA the prior year. Previously, Rabbi Aft was the spiritual leader at Adat Reyim in Springfield, VA from 1991 until June, 2020. He grew up in the Chicago suburbs and developed an early love for Judaism — and the Chicago White Sox.  He played on the University of Illinois varsity reserve team for a few years, and then turned his attention to the rabbinate and social work, receiving an MSW from Temple University, ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and eventually an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. 

Now in retirement, Rabbi Aft is a visiting scholar at George Mason University in the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution. He will also be working with the Jewish students at GMU and lectures for the Learning and Retirement Institute at GMU. He is an adjunct faculty member in the religious studies department and honors college at GMU.  He is the President of the community board for Operation Understanding DC. He also serves as a visiting lecturer at Greenspring Village and a Chaplain for the Jewish Social Service Agency.

Rabbi Aft will also continue to have a part-time pulpit, serving small congregations in the South through the Institute for Southern Jewish Life. Over the past 30 years Rabbi Aft was active with BBYO and helped staff March of the Living.  He served as President of the Board of Jewish Education of Greater Washington and was a board member for the Federation. Rabbi Bruce and his wife Sue will be volunteering for the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy where he has not yet been offered a contract to pitch. In retirement he and Sue look forward to visiting their four children and six grandchildren much more often. 

March 14
7:30 PM

Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President for Research, Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD): Topic coming soon

Speaker Bio (from the FDD website)

Dr. Jonathan Schanzer is senior vice president for research at FDD, where he oversees the work of the organization’s experts and scholars. He is also on the leadership team of FDD’s Center on Economic and Financial Power, a project on the use of financial and economic power as a tool of statecraft.

Jonathan previously worked as a terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he played an integral role in the designation of numerous terrorist financiers. He has held previous think tank research positions at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Middle East Forum.

Jonathan has written hundreds of articles on the Middle East, along with more than a dozen monographs and chapters for edited volumes. His new book, Gaza Conflict 2021: Hamas, Israel and Eleven Days of War (FDD Press 2021), challenges and corrects the some of the wildly inaccurate news reported during the conflict. It is the first book published on the war. His three other books have made unique contributions to the field. State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State (Palgrave Macmillan 2013) argues the main roadblock to Palestinian statehood is the Palestinian Authority’s political dysfunction and mismanagement. Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine (Palgrave Macmillan 2008) is still the only book on the market that analyzes the ongoing Palestinian civil war. Al-Qaeda’s Armies: Middle East Affiliate Groups and the Next Generation of Terror (Washington Institute for Near East Policy 2004) was the first to explore the al-Qaeda franchises of the Middle East. 

Jonathan testifies often before Congress and publishes widely in the American and international media. He has appeared on American television channels such as Fox News and CNN, and Arabic language television channels such as Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera.

April We'll take a break in April to celebrate Passover

May 9,
7:30 PM

(In person and Zoom)

Steve Pregozen: Financial Crimes - Schemes, Investigation and Prevention 

Steve Pregozen, a CBE member and retired IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent, will be our featured speaker. Based on his experience, Steve will discuss financial crimes/schemes, successful investigation techniques, and prevention.

In his career as a Special Agent with the IRS-CI, Steve held several positions from Investigator to Chief of Staff. Steve also served as the Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo Field Office. There he was in charge of many fraud investigations and the complex issues related to those investigations, such as asset forfeiture. As a Senior Analyst at IRS Headquarters, Steve’s expertise was in offshore abusive trust schemes. He also provided guidance to detect conspiracies in a major offshore evasion scheme that used foreign bank accounts. Steve is currently Chief of Staff at Madison Associates, Inc., a financial investigative law enforcement consulting firm.

June 13,
7:30 PM

(In person and Zoom)

Gadeer Kamal-Mreeh: Her Journey from Daliyat al-Karmel to DC

Born to a Druze family in the village of Daliyat al-Karmel on Mount Carmel, Kamal-Mreeh served as the first Druze woman to anchor a Hebrew-language news program on Israeli television, the first female Druze member of Israel’s legislature (from April 2019-April 2021), and now, as the first Druze to serve as an Israeli emissary for the Jewish Agency. Kamal-Mreeh balances national and local responsibilities to forge meaningful connections between Israel and world Jewry. 

Breaking several glass ceilings in Israel as the "First Druze Woman," Gadeer Kamal-Mreeh became the first Druze member of Knesset, the first Druze anchorwoman to host a prime time Hebrew-language news program, and the first Druze Senior Envoy of The Jewish Agency for Israel to The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. She will share her unique story, which is full of achievements and challenges that represent the beauty, complexity, and diversity of Israeli society. Come to connect with us to explore another facet of Israel you must meet.

We are excited to welcome Ms Kamal-Mreeh to Congregation Beth Emeth in January; more information will be posted here.

From Generation to Generation
Poem by S. Anne Sostrom z"l

L'dor vador—from generation to generation—
I pass to you
Not the giddy joy of success,
But the lump in the throat the signals
The wisdom to speak softly in a fragile world.
Through these finger tips
Pass sensual gifts—
The feel of sand between the toes,
The eye that captures
The flight of the gull at sunset,
Take them, child of my child—
The ability to grow inside the mind,
To change, to forgive, to love.
Take them,
And when you grow old,
Bequeath them l'dor vador,
For these are the things that remain worthwhile,
That make life worth living.

Tue, February 7 2023 16 Shevat 5783