The Sisterhood is an auxiliary group interested in sharing their talents and energy, while connecting with other women in the Temple Emanu-El community through intellectual, spiritual and social activities.

Upcoming Sisterhood Events

Dear Sisterhood Friends,

This year was a year of tremendous growth for Sisterhood, in membership, activities, service to the community and engagement. This year all but one of our events was held in person or hybrid and we averaged a minimum of 20 participants at all events. We increased our event opportunities with an afternoon Movie Club, an evening of Decoupage, and trips to the Niantic Playhouse, the Audubon Society and the  Griswold Museum.

This year for the first time in many years, we added a Membership Chair to the Sisterhood Board which enabled us to add twenty-two (22) brand new members to our roles for a total of 114 members.

We have expanded our community service projects beyond the Friendly Visitor Program to include planting gardens on the grounds of Safe Futures in New London and donating 100 bags of feminine hygiene products to Safe Futures through the Dignity Grows Program. We donated a color printer to the Religious School and supported the Young Emissary Program, and the bathroom renovation project. Sisterhood together with the Baking Club provided the Shabbat Oneg once monthly.


What a great year we have had!

  • Book Club (seven) – Thanks to our new Book Club Chair, Suzanne Crawford, for organizing and encouraging our return to in-home/hybrid book clubs.
  • Walking Group – Thanks to Debra Wool for coordinating each week.
  • Membership KickOff Event, Membership Drive, End of Year Dinner– Many, Many, Thanks to Jennifer Zettler!
  • Safe Futures 4K, Dignity Grows, Learn Decoupage and Do a Mitzvah and Panel Discussion on Book Banning – Thanks to Moira Ross, Social Justice Chair.
  • Two successful Mahjongg Tournaments – Thanks to Iris Freeman and Robbin Alpert for making these all-day events happen. Iris also sells Mahjongg cards for the benefit of Sisterhood each year, which adds around 1,500 dollars to our coffers. Also thanks to Iris and Robbin for offering a series of “How To Play” lessons and a twice monthly Mahjongg group at the Temple.
  • Judaica Shop Chanukah Fair – Thanks to Anne Cohn
  • Trivia Night, Evening at Smith’s Acres,Steel Magnolias at Niantic Playhouse, South Pacific at the Goodspeed, Movie Club, Trip to Audubon Society and Griswold MuseumBarbara Senges, Debra Wool and Merrill Mazzella.
  • Assembly and Distribution of Holiday Bags for “Friendly Visitors Program” – Thanks to Eileen Shapiro for organizing and all our members who assisted.
  • Designing and Planting Gardens at Safe Futures – Thanks to Cecile Feldman and her crew.
  • Sisterhood Service – Thanks to Eileen Shapiro for organizing


Upcoming events


  • Thursday, May 30 at 6:00PM in the Temple Social Hall, and will be catered by “Cloud Nine Catering
     – End of Year Dinner


  • Tuesday, June 4 at 10:30AM at Audubon Society in Old Lyme – “Back Yard Birding Program” at Audubon Society, followed by a tour of the Florence Griswold (Impressionist Exhibit) and lunch at Cafe Flo. There will be a cost and a limit of 25 participants
  • Tuesday, June 18 at 7:00PM at the home of Moira in Waterford – Book Club, “The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • June 26 – Lunch at the “Gelston House” followed by a performance of “South Pacific” at the Goodspeed Opera House for all who have purchased tickets.

In addition to all the events listed above, don’t forget our Walking Group. Also watch your emails for Movie Club and Dinner Club! Please scroll down to see information about Walking Group, upcoming events and outings!

Mark these events on your calendar!
– Barbara


Weekly Walking Group
Our Walking Group continues to walk (weather permitting), usually on Wednesday and Thursday at 10 am. We often walk at
the Niantic Boardwalk, and sometimes places such as the Connecticut College Arboretum, and Harkness. If you are interested, please let Debra know by emailing

Movie/Show Group
We have started an “informal movie group” in the afternoon, attending movies at the Waterford and Mystic Cinemas. We plan on continuing these small group outings in 2024. The Niantic Cinema has been replaced by the Niantic Bay Playhouse which provides excellent amateur theater inexpensively. Premium seating is only $28.00. Stay tuned to your email for information on the next afternoon Sisterhood Movie Club outing.

Sisterhood Book Club

There are now 22 women on the Sisterhood Book Club email list. Everyone is enjoying meeting again in the homes of members. We have worked out the “technical” problems of Zoom from our first book club and members at home had a great experience at the second book club. 

Thank you to Anne for hosting Book Club at her home on February 20, when we discussed “The German Wife” by Kelly Rimmer. In April we read our fifth Book Club of the year and Tammy lead us in a discussion of “Beloved”, a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Toni Morrison. On May 7 we discussed “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown, and our next book club we will be discussing “The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates June 18th. 

If you are interested in joining us and being added to the Book Club Email list, please contact Suzanne at Don’t forget to email Barbara at, if you would like the Zoom link. 


Temple Emanu-El Gift Shop
We continue to expand offerings at the gift shop which are available by appointment. You can contact Anne to schedule an appointment at, or contact the Temple Office. Come in and look at our wide array of Judaica items. There is no sales tax, and our prices are cheaper than retail stores. Profits go to support your congregation and community. Anne is also willing to special order items for you, and has a wide array of items that can be ordered from a variety of vendors. If it’s jewelry you are looking for, I have a catalog full of beautiful items to order. This small Judaica company ships right out and the items are gorgeous and very well priced. Also, lots of wonderful new products will be coming in soon!

Thanks to everyone for continuing to support our shop!
– Anne

The Sisterhood would like to say thank you to Susan Hausmann for running the Gift Shop for many years, and to Lisa Marcus for helping Anne!


Friendly Visitor Program Bags
On Monday, March 18 at 10:00AM, we once again gathered in the Social Hall to assemble Purim bags for the Friendly Visitor Program. On Monday, April 15 we assembled Passover Bags.

Eileen Shapiro is the coordinator of the Friendly Visitor Program for JFEC. Sisterhood, along with JFEC, have helped assemble and distribute Chanukah, Purim, Passover & Rosh Hashanah bags to residents in our community who are in nursing homes and independent living facilities. Eileen has expanded the JFEC Friendly Visitor Program to include other local synagogues. 

Spring 2024 MAH JONGG Tournament

Save the date for our next mah-jongg tournament on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. We will again offer relaxed tables (for newer players and those that may not want to play a full day), as well as 6 round tournament play. Breakfast, lunch and snacks will be included along with cash prizes for our high scorers.

Sisterhood Board
Our Officers:
President:                              Barbara Senges
Treasurer:                              Eileen Shapiro
Programs:                              Merrill Mazzella
Corresponding Secretary:  Gail Schor
Recording Secretary:           Debra Wool
Membership:                        Jennifer Zettler
Book Club:                             Suzanne Crawford
Judaica Shop:                       Anne Cohn
Publicity:                                Sue Fornara
Religious School Liaison    Adrienne Parad
Social Justice                        Moira Ross

Our yearly Membership Drive is ongoing. Our fall Membership Drive has exceeded our expectations. We have 88 members for 2023-2024, including 14 new members! Welcome to all our new members. Thanks to Jennifer, our Membership Chair, and remember that it is never too late to join Sisterhood.

Do you have any ideas for a Sisterhood program? Maybe you have a skill you would like to share. We are always looking for suggestions! Some other programs we discussed were a drawing class on Zoom, as well as a program in person at Smith Acres in Niantic in the spring. If you have any suggestions or special talents, please let us know.  It’s always fun to try something new.

WRJ Programs
Last year, we mentioned all of the on-line programming available through our umbrella organization, WRJ. If you check their website,, you will see their calendar filled with speakers, tours, etc.  Hope you can take advantage of some of their programs.


In April we made our yearly visit to Smith’s Acres in Niantic. Thank you to Merrill for once again organizing this fun outing. This year we filled an oval planter with herbs and pansies.

In March at the Temple, we learned the art of decoupage while performing an important mitzvah. Alaina Roberge from Alaina’s Arts in Waterford guided us through the decoupage of a vase. We donated these vases, filled with spring flowers to the Friendly Visitor Program for the residents of local care facilities.

Mah Jongg Tournament
On October 18 we again hosted a Mah Jongg Tournament. We had also held a tournament in June,
and hosted players from all across the northeast for a fun-filled day of Mahj. Thanks to all who participated and all who helped make these events happen. A special thank you to Iris and Robbin!

The Kick-Off Dinner on October 12th was a huge success! We had forty-eight women attending and a great time was had by all. Thanks to our Membership Chair, Jennifer Zettler, for planning and implementing this incredible evening. The food was delicious and plentiful. In fact, we had so much left over that we sold “doggy bags” for $18 and we will be donating $225 to help Israel. The twelve women who stayed to play “Bunco” really enjoyed it. Hopefully, later in the year, we can hold a Bunco Night or Afternoon where more of you can participate.

“Gypsy” at Goodspeed! On June 7, twenty-five Sisterhood members attended a production of “Gypsy” at the Goodspeed and enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Gelston House before the play.

End-of-Year Sisterhood Dinner
Thursday, May 18 at 6:00PM

Planting at Safe Futures!

Smith’s Acres Greenhouse

Tuesday, May 2 at 6:00PM – We made a Succulent Cocktail Glass and enjoyed pizza and wine! Thanks to Merrill for organizing. 

Sisterhood Service and Installation

Friday, May 12 at 6:30PM
Please RSVP to Eileen or email Barbara at if you would like a part in the service (indicate Hebrew or English), or if you are willing to bring something for the Oneg.


Dinner Club
On Wednesday, March 15, Merrill Mazzella organized a successful Sisterhood Dinner Club at Olio’s in Groton on March 15. The food was delicious, the company was great and we even celebrated Gail’s birthday! A great time was had by all!

Well known Chicago performer Ellie of Ellie Presents met with us on Zoom on Tuesday, March 7 with her popular talk, Speaking of Unmentionables: The Rise & Fall of Ladies’ Underwear. This novel and at times slightly naughty presentation unveilsed facts and exposes myths about women’s unmentionables, and was a hit with a all who participated!

Trivia Night

We have had some great trivia nights! Our last Trivia Event was on Zoom in January 2024, and was a fun evening! Thanks to Barbara for coming up with great questions! Next up – Riddle Night – scroll back up the page for more information!

Abortion and Women’s Reproductive Rights Forum

We had a very exciting event on November 17 at Temple Emanu-El and on Zoom. Our Sisterhood Social Action Committee led by Moira Ross (who brought you the “ Get Out the Vote Event” in September) organized a Panel Discussion on Abortion and Women’s Reproductive Rights for that evening. Our speakers were Rabbi Marc Ekstrand, Dr. Adrienne Parad and Marcie Brensilver. Rabbi Marc spoke about the Reform Jewish viewpoint on abortion. Dr. Parad, MD FAAFP, presented an overview of abortion terminology and medical options and discussed real-life implications of the new restrictive abortion laws. Marcie Brensilver, nurse health educator and Planned Parenthood educator, talked about how restrictive abortion laws in other states are affecting CT, and shared personal stories about abortion before Roe v. Wade, and Sheila Horvitz talked about the legal and historical background. Thanks to all of our presenters! It was informative and inspiring. A special thanks to Moira Ross for planning and organizing this very informative event! Thanks also to Barbara Senges for all her help and to Nathaniel Rowe for acting as our Tech Guru.

Our Kick-off Membership Event
 was great! We had over 40 women and it was wonderful to be able to get together! Thank you to Lisa for hosting, and to Merrill Merrill Mazzella for organizing the wonderful dinner from Cafe Sol and assisting with the setting up and serving. A fun time was had by all!

2023 Manjongg Cards have been ordered!
The Mahjongg Tournament was on Thursday, October 20th. With over 15 years of mahjongg tournaments behind us, it was still just as exciting to see Temple EmanuEl filled with 84 players for our first post-pandemic day of mahjongg. We had folks from DE, NH, NY, MA in attendance for an event that was months in the planning. With 100 hungry people to feed (mahjongg works up an appetite!), our home-made breakfast and luncheon did not disappoint. We had a crew of 16 kitchen, set-up, and break-down helpers to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. A very HUGE THANK YOU to Iris Freeman and Robbin Alpert and all who assisted them in making the Mahjongg Tournament a great success. The Mahjongg Tournament is Sisterhood’s major fundraiser and with the funds raised we will be able to contribute to the synagogue in a significant way.

Sisterhood again participated in the Safe Futures 4K Safe Walk on Sunday, October 23 at Waterford High School. Moira reported that the Sisterhood raised $1,800 for Safe Futures – a big thank you to all of you who participated and contributed to this very worthy cause.

We had fun doing Herb Planters at Smith’s Acres!

We closed out our March activities with an outdoor event in the Greenhouse at Smith’s Acres where we made Spring Herb Planters. Sisterhood provided Pizza and Drinks at the event.


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