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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+. Adults, of any age, are welcome to attend! 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. Be a member, be a guest or bring a guest. Hazak members do not need to be CBE members.

During COVID-19, Hazak events are online on Zoom, from 1:00 to approximately 3:00 on the third Tuesday of each month.  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

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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.

The name Hazak means "Strong," and is also made up of the first Hebrew letters of the words:

Hazak logoHochmah: Wisdom
Ziknah: Maturity
Kadima: Looking Ahead


Questions About Hazak?

Contact Carol Silberstein and Ellyn Greenspan at We also welcome ideas for future speakers.

5781/2020-21 Hazak Events

This year we have lined up an impressive roster of experts on timely topics, most with some Jewish connection. Many of our speakers share their knowledge along with their own unique and fascinating personal stories. Note: All of these programs are subject to change if speakers become unavailable. (See also: Calendar)

Date Guest Speaker and Topic

October 20, 2020

Dr. Harold Geller: Looking for Life in All the Wrong Places – The Search for Life in the Universe

In recent days there has been much talk about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence in the universe. However, where are we looking and why do we look where we look, is often overlooked in the media and on the internet. We will discuss the search for life in the universe and reveal the techniques and rationale of looking for life in all the right places; in our Solar System, in our Milky Way Galaxy, and in our universe. Carl Sagan once said that, “somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” There are those who argue that the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe will be the greatest discovery of them all.

Dr. Harold A. Geller is Observatory Director and Associate Professor at George Mason University.  He served as co-Investigator for the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA), the largest educational grant ever awarded Mason, from 2011 through 2015. Since 2012 he has served as a Solar System Ambassador for the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He is author of books, contributed to edited volumes, and has published over 90 papers in education, astrobiology, astrophysics, and biochemistry. 

November 17, 2020

Dr. Jim Kinter: Climate Change in the Commonwealth of Virginia

“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” This old saying neglects the fact that everybody is inadvertently doing something about the weather – we are changing it. The reality of global climate change is now undeniable and the likelihood is high that industrialization, urbanization and deforestation have caused most of the changes observed in the past 60 years.

The citizens and businesses of the Commonwealth of Virginia are not exempt from the changes Earth will experience during the rest of this century–there will be a new normal and we all need to prepare for it. Knowing where, when, and by how much climate will change in the Commonwealth, and what the impacts of those changes will be on citizens’ lives, livelihoods and property, are critically important aspects of planning and preparing for changes that are decades in the making.

Dr. Kinter will describe Mason research that is focused on these questions, emphasizing what we have learned about predicting future weather and climate in the mid-Atlantic region and what remains to be done to advance our understanding to actionable predictions.

Dr. Kinter is Director of the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA), which conducts research on climate variability and predictability from days to decades, focusing on phenomena such as droughts and floods, monsoons, El Niño, and climate change. Dr. Kinter is also Professor and Chair in the department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences of the College of Science at George Mason University, where he is also affiliated with the Climate Dynamics Ph.D. Program.

After earning his doctorate in geophysical fluid dynamics at Princeton University in 1984, Dr. Kinter served as a National Research Council Associate at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and as a faculty member of the University of Maryland prior to helping to create COLA. Dr. Kinter has served on many national review panels for both scientific research programs and supercomputing programs for computational climate modeling.

December 15, 2020

Rabbi Mina Goldsmith: The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902

On December 15th, Hazak will welcome our own Rabbi Mina Goldsmith as the speaker. She will discuss the book The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902.  Rabbi Mina will share her thoughts on this meaningful, inspirational and poignant book.  

The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902 tells the twin stories of mostly uneducated female immigrants who discovered their collective consumer power and of the Beef Trust, the midwestern cartel that conspired to keep meat prices high despite efforts by the U.S. government to curtail its nefarious practices. With few resources and little experience but a great deal of steely determination, this group of women organized themselves into a potent fighting force and, in their first foray into the political arena in their adopted country, successfully challenged powerful vested corporate interests and set a pattern for future generations to follow.

January 19, 2021

Richard Rubenstein: Religious Conflicts and Their Resolution

Religious Conflicts and Their Resolution. Why do religious conflicts sometimes become lethal? What is causing the current spread of violent religious conflicts worldwide? What can be done to resolve these conflicts?

Richard E. Rubenstein is University Professor of Conflict Resolution and Public Affairs in the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. Education Harvard College, B.A. in History and Literature, Oxford College, M.A. in Jurisprudence (Rhodes Scholar), Harvard Law School, J.D. Mr. Rubenstein has authored numerous books on conflict resolution, war, terrorism and religious conflicts.

February 16, 2021

Amy Schwartz: Can Robots Be Jewish and Other Pressing Questions of Modern Life 

Amy E. Schwartz of Moment Magazine will discuss whether robots can be Jewish and other perennial questions, such as what Judaism has to say about love, miracles, the afterlife and so much more from her new book, Can Robots Be Jewish? And Other Pressing Questions of Modern Life. the book is a selection of questions and answers drawn from Moment’s ever-popular Ask the Rabbis column. This smart and provocative talk is perfect for anyone interested in the rich diversity of Jewish thought on contemporary questions.

Amy E. Schwartz received a degree in literature from Harvard University. She worked at Harper’s Magazine and The New Republic before joining the Washington Post, where she was an editorial writer and op-ed columnist on cultural issues from 1985 to 2002. Amy E. Schwartz has also lived in and reported from France, Germany and Turkey.

March 16, 2021

Gilah Goldsmith and John Rybicki:  The Co-Evolution of Passover and Easter-Two Liturgical Traditions


Every spring, Jews and Christians celebrate the core narratives of their respective faith communities:  Passover and Easter.  
In this presentation, we will explore the origins of these holidays, their relationship to each other and the ways in which their 
observance and meaning have evolved over time.  

Gilah Goldsmith is a retired government attorney interested in Jewish history and culture.  She has been leading the weekly Torah study group at her synagogue, Beth El Hebrew Congregation, for some 30 years. Gilah also lectures on Judaism and the Bible at OLLI and for other interested groups. She has been collecting Passover Haggadahs for many years, which has led her to discover the many ways in which Passover has been observed in different times and places.  

John Rybicki has diplomas in Theological Studies from both the Virginia Theological Seminary and the Antiochian Orthodox Church. He studied at St. George’s College in Jerusalem and received a Master of Theology degree from the St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology, Balamand University. He continues to lecture at  OLLI, the Pozez JCC of Northern Virginia  and in local churches and synagogues. 

April 20, 2021

Steve and Michael Silberstein: Michael's Story of Surviving Auschwitz and the Holocaust 

Congregant, Steve Silberstein, will tell us the story of his father Michael’s survival in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Steve will also share their experience of recently attending the Auschwitz 75th Liberation Commemoration in Poland. Over the years Michael has spoken to many groups about his experience. Steve is committed to continuing the legacy and speaking about the Holocaust to raise awareness and educate in order to fulfill the promise to never forget. It is a powerful story with meaningful insight and lessons for all.

Steve and Carol (your Hazak Programming Co-Chair) Silberstein joined Congregation Beth Emeth in 1995 and raised their children David and Sara here from Religious school through Confirmation.

Steve recently retired from Micron Technology and plans to speak with diverse groups of students and community members about his father’s Holocaust experiences. He looks forward to traveling, exploring, staying engaged in the community and enjoying the kids and grandchildren.

Not on the Hazak email list? Contact Ellyn Greenspan and Carol Silberstein at to make sure you receive the Zoom link.

May 11, 2021
(Postponed from March 2020)

Chuck Cascio: Fire Escape Stories book talk with Beth Emeth’s own author!

Chuck Cascio is an award-winning journalist, educator, short-story writer, and business leader. The author of three nonfiction books, Chuck has had hundreds of news stories, feature articles, and opinion pieces published in a wide-range newspapers, magazines, and journals. Among Chuck's awards are a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, a Suburban Newspapers of America Award for Column Writing, a Distinguished Teacher Award in the Presidential Scholars Program, a Rothman Institute Award for Entrepreneurial Leadership, and other honors and citations for journalism, creative writing, teaching, and business.

A native of Brooklyn, NY, Chuck moved to the Washington, DC, area at an early age, but he remains a New Yorker at heart. He earned a BS degree in Economics and Business from Wagner College on Staten Island, NY, and an MA in Communications from the American University in Washington, DC, where he later became an adjunct faculty member. Chuck also taught high school and was faculty advisor to student newspaper publications in Fairfax County, VA, receiving extensive recognition for his innovative approaches to teaching. After leaving the classroom, Chuck served as Vice President for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and then as Vice President for Educational Testing Service.

All ages welcome! If you're not on the Hazak email list, contact in advance for the Zoom link.

June 15, 2021

Carol Backman: Learn How To Create A Written Legacy

Shalom!  Please join us for the last Hazak meeting of the year, when we will welcome Carol Backman. Carol's talk will define what a memoir story is and some topics to write about. She will explain that a memoir is a way to preserve your legacy and transmit it to those you love. Details will also be offered if anyone is interested in starting their own memoir group.  

Carol Backman was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. She graduated from George Washington University with a B.A in American Studies and Journalism and an M.A.T. in teaching. She retired after more than 25 years as a mathematics teacher for Fairfax County, Virginia schools and served as public relations person for Annandale High School. For the past ten years, Carol has led the Memoir Writing Group at the Pozez JCC of Northern Virginia.

All ages welcome! If you're not on the Hazak email list, contact in advance for the Zoom link.


From Generation to Generation

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.

Poem by S. Anne Sostrom z"l

Sat, October 23 2021 17 Cheshvan 5782