Arizona Jewish Life May/June 2021 Vol. 9/Issue 4

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Reading & Recipes

for Mom & Dad


Fun Facts about Shavuot

Seniors share

Moments to Remember

BETH MEYER Leading the charge for change in Arizona

CO N TE N TS Arizona Jewish Life May/June 2021 Iyyar-Sivan-Tammuz 5781 Volume 9/Issue 4




FEATURES COVER STORY Beth Meyer: Leading the charge for change in Arizona BUSINESS STEELPORT is forging a new path in cutlery The Event Genies and Jew PHX launch new Jewish professionals group Tucson’s Isaac Rothschild named NextGen leader

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HEALTH Meet Debbie Popiel on the mat for mindfulness


FRONT & CENTER Elias-Axel Pettersson: Brings his passion for piano to the Valley


JKIDS & TEENS Collective Compassion for Mental Health Awareness Month Johanna Shlomovich joins Tucson Hebrew Academy as new head of school ISRAEL 8 fun facts about Shavuot in Israel 4 MAY/JUNE 2021 | ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE

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JLIVING Celebrating JWV’s 125th Anniversary



A C T I V E LY S E N I O R Mental health issues in the elderly is a major COVID side effect When the going gets tough, the tough get giving Dr. Robert Kravetz: A healer and historian How do you know you’re ready for retirement? Moments to remember Jewish Grandparents Network Engaging and enriching virtual programs for older adults All about the Adventure Bus

24 26 28 30 32 35 35 38 GIFT GUIDES

GIFT GUIDES Mother’s Day Father’s Day

Reading & Recipes

for Mom & Dad

40 42


Fun Facts

about Shavuot

Seniors share

Moments to Remember


IT’S SUMMER This summer, get lost in a book Fire up that grill!



Leading the charge for change in Arizona

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Everyone has a JCC story This past week, I came across an article online about a national contest to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the JCC Association of North America from 2017. People from around the country were asked to submit their answer to “What is your JCC story?” At the top of the article, I was shocked to see a photo of my parents, Harold and Ruth Saltzman, with their JCC story. The story was submitted by their Harold and Ruth Saltzman local JCC. The story won first place! It was a story that my sister and brothers and I (and most everyone in our large extended family) had heard for years. But much like the Jewish Community Centers, the story was something I had taken for granted as part of our heritage. I was reminded just how vital our JCCs are to a thriving Jewish community. Times have changed, and people and families are more spread out, but the mission of the JCC is as relevant today as it was when it was started: “ … advancing and enriching North American Jewish Life.” As we enter the summer months, and we (hopefully) begin to congregate and socialize in person again, you might want to visit your JCC to experience what it has to offer. You will probably be surprised. A note: During the summer months, The Weekly will continue to arrive at your inbox every Thursday (occasionally Friday), and our next magazine publication will be out in August, the 2021-2022 Resource Guide. What will we be doing this summer? We will be hard at work on a new media venture that we are very excited about and hope you will be too when you see it. Stay tuned to our Facebook, Instagram and The Weekly for the special announcement. Be well, stay safe and please know that we really appreciate your support.

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MAY/JUNE 2021 Arizona Jewish Life • May/June 2021 • Iyyar-Sivan-Tammuz 5781 • Volume 9/Issue 4



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602-538-AZJL (2955)

A DV E R TI S I N G A N D E D ITO R I A L D I R EC TO R Cindy Salt zman

E D ITO R- I N - C H I E F Mala Blomquis t


ART DIREC TOR Tamara Kopper

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Amy Hirshberg Lederman Bonnie Groessl


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STEELPORT is forging a new path in cutlery

By Mala Blomquist


TEELPORT Knife Co. is a new cutlery brand handcrafted in Portland with aspirations of becoming America’s kitchen knife company. Everything that goes into the product – from the raw steel to the wooden handle – is sourced in the United States. “My partner’s Persian and I’m Israeli, but we’re trying to make the All-American knife,” says Eytan Zias, cofounder and bladesmith at STEELPORT. His business partner and founder, Ron Khormaei, was the co-founder and past CEO of FINEX, a cast iron cookware company. Quality chef ’s knives used to be made primarily in Germany, but now the market is being dominated by those coming from Japan. “Most companies that call themselves ‘American knife companies’ are just having it mass produced overseas for a couple of dollars and then marking it up,” says Eytan. “We have plenty of folding knife companies, and we’re well known for that, but we just never made a good kitchen knife.” 10 MAY/JUNE 2021 | ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE

Right before the pandemic, Ron sold FINEX and had an idea to reintroduce American-forged carbon steel cutlery to consumers. “He was looking for a knife guy, and that’s how I came into the picture,” says Eytan. “Then my little (knifemaking) hobby turned into a pretty intensive year of R&D that was all-consuming, which was good because we had to shut down the shops for a few months because of COVID.” The “shops” Eytan refers to are his brick-and-mortar Knife House stores. He opened the Phoenix Knife House in 2007, after more than 10 years working as a chef. He opened his second store, The Portland Knife House in 2014, after moving to Portland in 2013. “I moved from New York to Phoenix and I didn’t have anywhere to shop. I got into it because I liked knives and sharpening knives, and I saw a need,” says Eytan. “Then I did a lot of teaching people how to hand sharpen knives, and I felt like making knives was the natural progression. I set up a little forge behind the Phoenix shop right before we found out that we were moving to Portland.” Eytan has wanted to go full-time into knifemaking

Eytan Zias, co-founder and bladesmith for STEELPORT Knife Co.; the STEELPORT 8-inch chef knife. PHOTO COURTESY AUBRIE LEGAULT

for about eight years. He believes his culinary background gives him an advantage over other knifemakers – he understands what chefs are looking for in a quality kitchen knife. His introduction to knifemaking started with a few lessons under Mastersmith Ray Rybar in northern Arizona. “I pretty much taught myself after that, and then I was fortunate when I got to Portland to meet another Israeli knifemaker named Arnon Kartmazov at Bridgetown Forge,” says Eytan. “He’s been a friend of mine, and I bought a (power) hammer through him and set it up at his shop.” Arnon is the student of a well-known Israeli mastersmith out of Jerusalem named Uri Hofi. After studying and working as a blacksmith in Israel, Continued on next page ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE | MAY/JUNE 2021 11

BUSINESS Arnon traveled to Japan and continued working as a bladesmith for more than 10 years and then moved to Portland. “When I was doing the R&D, he was teaching me,” says Eytan. “Bladesmiths are pretty one dimensional, and blacksmiths know how to do everything, so I learned a lot from watching him and him watching me and telling me I’m doing this wrong and that wrong. I learned how to move steel a lot better through him.” At the end of March, STEELPORT Knife Co. released their first batch of knives, which quickly sold out. While this batch was still mostly handmade by Eytan and one other knifemaker, they are combining traditional processes with modern innovations to produce a few hundred knives at a time moving forward. Their goal is to make a quality knife accessible (and affordable) for professional chefs and discerning home cooks. “We had to start with one knife and the obvious choice was the 8-inch chef knife because that’s the most versatile knife. And that’s the one knife that you need,” says Eytan of their flagship product. “We’re already working on two knives for the end of the year, for the holidays, and we should be up to five by the middle of next year.” Eytan notes that we are entering the “golden age” of knifemaking and that there are more knifemakers than ever before. Further evidence of a surge in knifemaking is the popularity of the reality competition show on the History Channel called “Forged in Fire,” which has bladesmiths recreating historical edged weapons. “Makers are popping up everywhere, and just like any beginning industry, not everybody’s very good, but we need more,” says Eytan. “I think we’re going to end up with an actual knife industry here, which is exciting to me.” For more information, visit 12 MAY/JUNE 2021 | ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE

The Event Genies and Jew PHX launch new Jewish professionals group


etworking just got a whole lot more interesting. TribeNet, a group for “Heebs” who want to network, is ready to launch in May and hopes to change the way we network in the Jewish community. A collaboration between Alyssa Belanger of The Event Genies and Jennifer Starrett of Jew PHX, TribeNet will be a place for Jewish professionals looking to share ideas and information, connect and build professional networks, hear from leading experts on topics of interest, and, of course, socialize and have fun. Currently, a Facebook group ( tribenetaz) has started as a way to connect TribeNet members, and plans are underway to create a member directory and a place to find business and professional profiles on Alyssa has spent the last 20 years in the events industry and currently works to plan corporate and special occasion events. TribeNet will begin hosting in-person networking events include networking mixers, business panels and social opportunities to meet others

Jennifer Starrett

Alyssa Belanger in a laid-back setting over the next few months. A kick-off speed networking event will take place on Wednesday, May 19, from 7-9 pm at State 48 Lager House at 15600 N. Hayden Road in Scottsdale. There is no charge to attend, and guests are encouraged to RSVP on the Facebook Event and bring plenty of business cards. Jennifer has spent the last five years as a marketing and event consultant and is excited to use her expertise to help promote TribeNet events and highlight members

and their businesses. “Teaming up with Alyssa and her extensive knowledge in the event industry seemed like a perfect opportunity,” says Jennifer. “I love working with Jewish business owners, and starting TribeNet gives us the opportunity to meet up, develop relationships with other business owners and help promote and support each other.” For more info about TribeNet, please contact Jennifer Starrett at 480-331-5240 or ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE | MAY/JUNE 2021 13


Isaac Rothschild named NextGen leader


n April, attorney Isaac Rothschild was named one of BizTucson’s NextGen 2021 Leaders. Isaac Rothschild is a shareholder who practices in the bankruptcy section of Mesch Clark Rothschild. Since joining MCR in 2009, Rothschild has been active in the firm’s bankruptcy section as co-counsel in some of the most significant reorganization cases in Arizona, and has represented trustees, secured insurance companies and local banks in Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases and collection actions. His practice also focuses on asset protection planning and prebankruptcy planning. Isaac is a native of Tucson and represents the third generation in his family to pursue the practice of law. He graduated from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in 2007, where he was a staff writer for the Arizona Law Review. Prior to joining Mesch Clark Rothschild in 2009, he was a Law Clerk for Federal District Court Judge Raner Collins for two years. Isaac is active in several nonprofits, including serving as chair of the Arts for All board, whose programs are designed to provide a quality art focus for children, youth and adults with and without disabilities. He is one of the founders of the Tucson Jazz Festival and Tucson Young Tax Professionals and is the immediate past chair of the Tucson Jewish Community Center. He is also active with the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona. Isaac has also donated his time and talent to Wills for Heroes, where he prepared wills for Tucson firefighters and police officers. He served on the executive 14 MAY/JUNE 2021 | ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE

Isaac Rothschild committee for the bankruptcy section of the State Bar of Arizona and currently serves as a Ninth Circuit lawyer representative. Isaac has been recognized for his pro bono service and was named a 2020 Outstanding Volunteer of the Month Award recipient by the Southern Arizona Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program. Isaac told BizTucson that education, arts and culture are critical for the future. He wants to see “a community that uses its resources to create and support opportunities for children, individuals, businesses and institutions to pursue their goals and constantly striving to improve our education system and arts and culture activities,” he says. For more information, visit




ASTROLOGY: The study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world. SAMPLES SHOWN




Leading the charge for change in Arizona By Mala Blomquist


Beth shares a saying they use at LFC, “Facts raise eyebrows, stories can change minds.” ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE | MAY/JUNE 2021 17



eading for Change has been shaping the progressive leadership in Arizona since 2013. Through their leadership training programs and collaborations with diverse community leaders and social justice organizations, they are creating a pipeline of civic leaders prepared to reshape Arizona for the betterment of its people – children, youth and adults alike. At the helm of this organization is Beth Meyer. She transplanted to the Valley from the East Coast and brought her unique skillset – working in corporate America, owning her own company and being involved with nonprofits – to the work she does today. She is passing the baton to the next generation of leaders to ensure social and economic justice and fair and equitable treatment for all. Beth grew up in Elmont, NY often referred to as the “Gateway to Long Island.” She was raised in a Reform Jewish household with her parents and an older brother and sister. Judaism was a cornerstone in their home, and as long as Beth could remember, her mother was a Sunday school and nursery school teacher at their temple. “I'm just following in my parents’ footsteps,” says Beth. “They were very, very engaged in the community. We were a low-income family, but that never stopped their engagement – both my mom and dad were my heroes.” CREATING HER PATH Beth moved to the Valley at the end of 1980.

She worked with Gulf and Western Industries (now ViacomCBS) and was recruited by the Greyhound Corporation to work with its public relations department. Most people just thought of them as the “bus company,” but they had many subsidiaries, which was Beth’s specialty. After a few years, Beth decided to branch out on her own and created Beth Meyer Public Relations and Marketing. It was a medium-sized agency that handled both small and large clients. At this time Beth was on the board of Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona. (The company is now known as Planned Parenthood Arizona, Inc.) “I was on their board of directors, which I loved being on, and then I was invited to 18 MAY/JUNE 2021 | ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE

become a part of the staff,” says Beth. She took advantage of that opportunity, shutting down her business of 15 years, but only after she handed all PR clients to other PR experts and made sure that all her staff had new jobs. “I went in there as director of communications and moved up about a year after that to vice president of external affairs. That included communication, education, policy and advocacy,” she says. She was also responsible for their 501(c)4. Although Beth had held positions on other board of directors for various nonprofits, including Arizona Advocacy Network, the Community AIDS Council, Defenders of Children, NARAL Arizona, the Arizona American Jewish Committee and Arizona ACLU, this was her transition out of the “for-profit in the corporate world” into the nonprofit world for good. A NICHE IN NONPROFITS After more than five years with Planned Parenthood, Beth went to work for the Center for Progressive Leadership (CPL). A Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, CPL provided leadership development training for a select group of organizational leaders, future candidates, community organizers and progressive activists to advance progressive political and policy change. “I came on as the state director for Arizona, and once I opened up the state, I became their national director,” says Beth. In addition to Arizona, CPL operated in Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In 2012, CPL merged with Social Justice Leadership. Before their merger, Beth left CPL to do work with a grant she received. She was the recipient of a two-year Pepsi Refresh grant that allowed her to work with nonprofits in fund development, messaging, advocacy, visionary leadership and strategic planning to help them maintain sustainability. With CPL no longer operating in Arizona, there was a concern about losing that leadership training. “Various community leaders and elected officials asked me to continue the work in Arizona and the timing was Opposite page. Beth doing what she enjoys – training new leaders. This page: Beth and long-time friend, Senator Kyrsten Sinema.


Leading for Change fellows participate in a Zoom weekend training session.

perfect,” says Beth. “We created Leading for Change.” Leading for Change (LFC) offers a similar program to CPL, and the two “star” programs are its Leaders Fellowship and Candidate Training. The Leaders Fellowship is an eight-month part-time program, and Candidate Training is a nonpartisan three-weekend workshop. “This program is designed to help individuals move their vision of change forward as it relates to social and economic justice, so over eight months they develop what's called their Personal Political Leadership Plan, and that is like a roll-out plan for how they're going to begin work to create change in and outside of their communities, In the fellowship, the goal is stressing how important policy is because it changes thousands and thousands of lives at one time,” explains Beth. “Over eight months, the fellows participate in five very intense weekend sessions that cover topics such as working across divides, institutional racism, message development, and delivery and critical thinking.” She also shares a saying they use at LFC: Facts raise eyebrows, stories can change minds. “So if you just blurb about all the facts – first of all, nobody remembers them – but stories they remember,” says Beth. Additionally, the fellows receive guidance from a faculty coach who works with them one-on-one to guide them by developing that Personal Political Leadership Plan. They also work in peer coaching groups. LFC’s faculty are all people that are tremendously engaged in the community. Their backgrounds include past elected officials and experts in education, cultural competency and public policy development. Applications for the Leaders Fellowship are reviewed on an ongoing basis, and the deadline for this year’s program is Aug. 15, 2021. There don’t put an age limit on the program, and they have accepted people as young as 20, with their oldest recipient being 70. After some individuals complete the Leaders Fellowship, they recognize that one way that they want to implement their vision for change is to run for office or hold a






more significant leadership role on campaigns. That is where the Candidate Training program comes in. “We have 60 people that went through our program currently serving in office,” says Beth. “We are a 501(c)(3), so all of our training are nonpartisan, but they are all based on progressive values.” Two of those graduates include Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman. The application deadline for the next Candidate Training is June 15. The training covers the “nuts and bolts” of campaigning from filing and getting the signatures you need (or else you won’t be on the ballot!) to building your network and working the field. “We had to change some of our training because one of the things that we always push for running for office is that you have to knock on doors – you couldn't do that during COVID,” says Beth. “Several of our alumni who ran in 2020 wound up calling and saying, ‘Can you help? Can you talk this through with me because we can't knock on doors now?’ And we helped them.” Now Candidate Training has been revised to address nonCOVID and COVID campaigning because we all have learned now that you never know when a pandemic may hit. LFC wants to be prepared and make sure that those going through the program get the complete picture. LFC NEVER LEAVES YOU Since LFC started in 2013, they have had more than 400 people go through their training, and if you add the ones who went through CPL, you can add 300 more. Since the programs were so similar, the CPL alumni have been combined with those from LFC. Once you’re alumni, whatever program you went through, you can go through again – at no charge. The lesson plans are updated annually, so it provides a refresher course, and a chance to learn something new. “Sometimes, alumni will call and just want to work with me or a faculty coach one-on-one,” says Beth. “Or there is something they’re working on they need help with – we never go away, and we never charge again.” LFC also holds quarterly salons on various social justice issues. The last one they held was Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. They have also covered topics on veteran’s affairs, privatized prisons and Black Lives Matter. Almost 90% of these guest speakers are alumni that are now leading the charge in that type of work. One year they had a special guest speaker, Ester Kurz, a policy director for legislative strategy in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “She didn’t come to talk about Israel; she just happens to be an expert in foreign aid,” says Beth. “She did an excellent job.” Beth is constantly excited to see what her alumni are accomplishing. She’s like a proud Jewish mom when she shares their stories. “Cynthia Aragon went through a fellowship years ago, and she wound up becoming chief of staff for the Democratic caucus in the

Past graduates: Cynthia Aragon, Nate Rhoton, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman and Secretary of State of Arizona, Katie Hobbs.




House,” says Beth. “After the election, she was recruited by the Biden campaign.” Cynthia is the current commerce liaison for the Biden administration. “Look at somebody like Nate Rhoton, who now runs one•n•ten,” she continues. “When Nate joined LFC, he was working as an executive for a solar company. He wanted to get more involved in nonprofit and LGBTQ youth. When an opening came up at one•n•ten for fundraising, I said, ‘Go for it,’ he said, ‘I only do volunteer fundraising,’ and I said, ‘The worst they can say is no.’” They hired Nate, and he was brilliant at fundraising, and now he’s one•n•ten’s executive director. “He’s done amazing things to continue the growth of that organization even during COVID,” adds Beth. “Watching people move up and do good things – like hearing Reggie Bolding (member of the Arizona House of Representatives) talking against the bill on voter suppression,” says Beth. “I’m like, whoa! He got the messaging down. He made the point, he's a good leader and now he's the minority leader in the House. “When you ask, ‘What makes me happy,’ that's the stuff that makes me happy,” says Beth. “When a current fellow calls and says, ‘Beth, can I go over my plan with you? You know, I don't feel I have it right. I don't think my core strategies are correct. I have eight of them, and you tell me that we shouldn't have more than three.’ That's the stuff we work on so that we know when they graduate, they have a plan.” KEEPING UP THE GOOD WORK On Friday, April 16, LFC held a Zoom event, Celebrating the Next Generation of Progressive Leaders Class of 2021 Fellow’s Fundraiser for this latest group of fellows to graduate. There were several speakers, but there was one that Beth shares a longlasting friendship with – Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Beth met Kyrsten while working at Planned Parenthood, and Kyrsten was working as a social worker. They also partnered with other community members to create the Arizona Advocacy Network. When Beth got involved with CPL and then LFC, she asked Kyrsten to be one of the trainers, and she agreed. On March 6, the fellows were having their fourth weekend training and Kyrsten was scheduled to do some training, but she was a little busy at her day job trying to pass the latest COVID-19 relief package through the Senate. “I said on text, ‘Don’t worry if you’re busy, I’ve trained this stuff a million times, I can train,’ to which Kyrsten replied, ‘No, I love the fellows, I love to train,’ and after the vote, she texted me that she would be on in 10 minutes,” says Beth. When Kyrsten joined the Zoom training, she was eager to answer any of the questions the fellows had on what had happened. Then she asked them to hold that she was receiving a text from Vice President Kamala Harris. Kyrsten responded what she was doing and did the vice president need to talk to her immediately or could it wait 10 minutes until the scheduled break? “I guess the vice president texted her back to say 10 minutes is fine, and whatever went on back and forth in the text, all we knew was that ten minutes later when we thought we were going to break, instead the White House patched through Vice President Harris to talk to the class,” remembers Beth. “It was amazing. We were like children we were so excited the vice president joined us on a call – which you know says a lot,” says Beth. She also notes that Vice President Harris and Senator Sinema were ecstatic because the package had passed. Beth shares that Vice President Harris was very encouraging and told the fellows. “The


work is out there. It never stops. Changes need to be made in all communities and the United States as a whole.” Beth says she “took an understanding of what the fellowship was about and told them to stay focused and stay targeted and keep doing the work.” Beth knows that the work is unending and jokes that if she wasn’t the CEO of LFC, she would be their number one volunteer – that's how committed she is to make sure that the progressive pipeline of leaders is very diverse, skilled, knows how to think strategically, while remaining compassionate in tough times. “The most important thing that anybody gets out of the fellowship are the tools and the networks that they need to move the needle forward,” she says. “They may not all implement the plan that they put together because things change, but the tools don't, and so they now have a greater understanding of how things change, how you can create change.” Fellows from graduating class of 2017-2018 with faculty.

For more information on the programs offered, visit

“In the fellowship, the goal is stressing how important policy is because it changes thousands and thousands of lives at one time.” ~Beth Meyer



Seniors are the future.


eople in America today can expect to live longer than ever before. Once you make it to 65, the data suggest that you can live another 19.3 years, on average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Older adults are projected to take the population lead in less than two decades: in 2034, there will be 77 million seniors (age 65 and over) and 76.5 million children (age 18 and under). Census data currently shows that middle-aged Americans already outnumber children. The rise of seniors doesn’t stop there. A Kaiser Family Foundation study shows that the number of people ages 80 and older is projected to be about 31 million by the year 2050, while the number of people in their 90s and 100s will rise to 8 million.


Mental health issues in the elderly is a major COVID side effect By Bonnie Groessl


OVID-19 has affected everyone around the globe, perhaps no group more than the elderly. The pandemic has caused us all to experience grief, whether it is the loss of income, disruption of our normal routines, or the loss of physical connection with loved ones. The loss of connection has hit our elderly the most, many of whom live in assisted living facilities or independently in their own homes. When the pandemic hit and the world went into some level of lockdown, normal social

interaction disappeared, and so did our connection with loved ones. Older adults are especially vulnerable to serious complications from COVID-19, so there has been extra attention to keeping them as safe as possible. While this is a wise decision, it has caused an increase in depression, anxiety, and general loneliness for our elderly population. Social isolation often results in loneliness, which is a factor significantly associated with depression in elderly adults. Senior living facilities have cut back on social interactions Assisted living facilities and nursing homes have drastically limited social interaction within their facilities. It has been typical for these communities to eliminate group activities, gatherings, and dining together to protect the residents. These in-house activities may have been the only social interaction for many residents. Many facilities restricted residents from leaving their rooms, even for a walk in the hallway or outside. There also are limited options for exercise. Several studies have shown that even light to moderate exercise can have a significant positive effect on mood and cognitive function in the elderly. Although the lockdowns may be temporary, these effects are likely to be long lasting and could pose significant risks to the quality of life of the elderly population in the coming years. This has also been a difficult time for those of us who are baby boomers dealing with living parents. Lockdowns, social distancing, and losing all physical connection with our aging parents is stressful for them and for us. Many people severely ill with COVID have died alone in hospitals over the past year. They were not allowed to have visitors and could not connect with loved ones as they succumbed to the virus and became one of the more than 556,000 deaths so far in the United States alone. Occasionally, nursing staff is able to find a moment to facilitate a brief connection for these patients. This is often accomplished by using their own phones so the dying patient’s love ones can communicate with them and say goodbye. Some senior living facilities are beginning to loosen visitation restrictions as the percentage of the population fully vaccinated continues to rise. Hopefully, we can soon fully connect with our aging parents again. Until then, we need to acknowledge how this social isolation is taking a toll on the mental health of our elderly population. If you are wondering what you can do, here are a few suggestions: CONNECT AND COMMUNICATE The best medicine in this scenario is connection and communication. You can help by making additional phone

calls and video chat check-ins. We often don’t think of sending letters these days with current technology, but everyone enjoys getting mail they can open and read. Getting a card or letter in the mail may brighten an otherwise lonely day. Communication can be even more vital if your parent lives alone. Having a pet is often helpful for people who live alone but is not the same as a loved one, friend, or even a neighbor checking in on them. Using social media sites can help seniors stay connected to friends and family across the country. Many social media platforms have built-in video chat functions that add the dimension of being seen, even if it’s through a computer screen or phone. You can engage in virtual togetherness activities, like doing a video chat over dinner or just visiting in a group chat regularly, and being able to see the grandkids can be the highlight of any grandparent’s day. PAY ATTENTION It’s important to pay attention to behavioral, emotional, or cognitive changes. People deal with stress in different ways. Take notice of behavioral changes like difficulty communicating, inability to feel pleasure, increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. Emotional changes may include anxiety, depression or increased sadness and grief, anger, feeling overwhelmed or hopeless, feeling afraid, or the onset of insomnia. Cognitive changes often include the loss of memory, confusion, and poor concentration. You may notice something when talking with your loved one on the phone or video chat. It is critical to be on the lookout for signs of depression, especially if your parent or parents live in a facility or on their own. You may notice things like neglecting personal care, a change in appetite or sleeping patterns, being tearful, sad, angry, or exhibiting outbursts. When your parent is just not themselves, it is important to seek professional advice. Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to depression. When we are watching for COVID-19, we often miss these signs of depression. Consider helping your loved one schedule a telehealth or virtual visit with a mental health professional. Most insurance companies are loosening guidelines on virtual visits in light of COVID-19, and mental health checkups via telehealth technology can be helpful. Do not depend on the staff of a senior living facility to take action. It may be up to you to advocate on your loved one’s behalf, providing the connection and vigilance they need to stay safe and healthy.


Bonnie Groessl is a best-selling author, podcast host, holistic nurse practitioner and success coach. Her mission is to educate, empower and facilitate your wellbeing while nurturing the mind-body-spirit connection. You can find links to her books, guided meditation audios, blog and podcast at



When the going gets tough, the tough get giving By Amy Hirshberg Lederman



pring has sprung, and along with the warmer temps and new sprigs of green comes the blossom of hope. For more than a year, COVID has limited our life choices; it has inhibited, and in most cases, prevented our prior, uninhibited ability to spend time with family, friends and colleagues. We sheltered in place while yearning for the simplest of activities: shopping, going to work, going out to dinner, or the movies. We struggled to “feel” close in times of grief and sorrow as well as occasions of joy. Yet for my 95-year-old mother, COVID did less to restrict her world than the infirmities that have accompanied nine decades of living. Most of Mom’s friends are gone, and my father, just three months shy of his 100th birthday, died two years ago. But while Mom is wheelchair bound, her mind is impressively agile. I marvel at her deep interest in politics, the books she reads, and her constant contact with family. And while her physical mobility wanes, her capacity to offer guidance, inspiration and wisdom increases. One such moment came when Mom confided that she wanted to make a difference in her final years. We were sitting on the couch, her fragile body leaning into mine when she told me, “I want to give more, to make a difference in this troubled world – for my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. There are so many people who desperately need our help to maintain dignity and a secure life.” She paused for a moment and then added, “It’s part of being human, you know – to want to give from the heart. And it’s important to figure out what

means the most to you and why.” I was stunned. Mom’s wisdom perfectly articulated the foundation of philanthropic giving: it’s all about identifying your values and priorities and wanting to make the world a better place. In my previous work as a Legacy Consultant for the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, I saw first-hand the impact of thoughtful philanthropic giving. I watched our Tucson community benefit from the endowments and gifts of people who cared about issues ranging from Jewish education and Israel to social justice, climate change and the arts. But giving requires some soul searching: How much should we give? How do we prioritize our donations? Should we support Jewish organizations over secular ones? Should we give now or wait until we die? The Jewish tradition doesn’t speak in terms of charity. Instead, we take our marching orders from the mitzvah of tzedakah, or righteousness in Hebrew. Tzedakah is the hand-maiden to tikkun olam, the Jewish obligation to repair the world. Together, they form a call to action, to consciously distribute a part of what we have to care for others. We don’t give because it feels good (although it does feel good). We give because we’re Jews. Jewish law prioritizes the poor of our own community over the poor living elsewhere, although priority is given to the poor in Israel. We give in concentric circles: starting with our own family and community and then expanding out into the larger world, including Jews and non-Jews alike. The Talmud specifically recognizes that any needy person who lives peacefully with us is worthy of charity. During our lives, we will undoubtedly have times when our ability to give may be restricted. And yet it is times like now – when COVID has ravaged our economy and caused a global health crisis unparalleled to anything we have ever known, that Jewish tradition requires us to step up and make a difference. No matter how much or how little we have, the beauty of tzedakah is that it is an “equal opportunity mitzvah.” As our sages taught: “To the one who is eager to give, God provides the means.”


Amy Hirshberg Lederman has written more than 300 columns and essays that have been published nationwide,



Dr. Robert Kravetz:


A healer and historian By Mala Blomquist


oused in the hallway right outside the library at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in downtown Phoenix is a unique collection. The Robert Kravetz, MD Medical Museum consists of 15 cases of medical antiques that are just a part of Dr. Robert Kravetz’s enormous collection that began when he purchased a small toothpaste jar for 25 cents decades ago. An avid historian, Kravetz’s collection grew tremendously while visiting his wife’s hometown of Newburyport, MA, in 1970. He knew that the town drugstore had been there for more than 100 years, so on a whim, he asked the clerk if they happened to have any antiques. The clerk handed him a key and gave him instructions to go around the corner and up the stairs to the loft. “I opened the door, and it was antique heaven,” recalls Kravetz. “The drugstore dated back to 1840, and they never threw anything away. Everything was there from the past 130 years.” Robert bought a few of the items and then decided to go back and buy the rest. “I bought the whole thing for $2,500, and it cost me $3,500 to pack and ship it with Mayflower (trucking).” The antiques filled a semi-trailer – there were 60 cases of medical history totaling three tons. He stored the cases in his brother’s garage for a few years and then opened an antique shop across from the Entz-White hardware store on E. Camelback Road. Then, over the years, he began to donate his items to various medical locations for display because he figured “it's useless if it’s in storage.” A retired gastroenterologist, Dr. Kravetz is on the faculty at the College of Medicine. (He’s the oldest member of the faculty at 87.) “I have a special elective with fourth-year medical students, where they do a 28 MAY/JUNE 2021 | ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE

research project and spend a month with me,” he says. “I give each medical student an antique related to the specialty or residency that they are going into. I tell them, ‘This is your first antique, it's a wonderful hobby, and it’s given me a lot of pleasure over the years, and I want you to continue your interest in medical history,’ which I think is important.” Dr. Kravetz believes that he practiced medicine in what he likes to call “The Golden Age of Medicine,” where a physician had autonomy – less time to deal with paperwork and


The Robert Kravetz MD Medical Museum at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in downtown Phoenix. insurance and more time to spend with the patient. “When I teach the medical students, because I wrote a book on medical humanism, I try and teach them that you have to talk to the patient,” says Kravetz. “The patients want you to be competent, but they also want you to be caring and considerate – you need both. You don't want someone who's very competent but doesn't have any bedside manner. I teach history, humanism and clinical medicine.” A prolific author, Kravetz has written five books; the latest is A Look Back: Reflections on Medical History & Artifacts from the Pages of The American Journal of Gastroenterology. This book is a collection of articles he had written over a decade as an archivist for the American College of Gastroenterology. It also includes photographs from his collection along with detailed descriptions. “It's for anyone who wants to learn about medical history,” says Kravetz. “It's not that scientific, but it's detailed. It’s more like a coffee table book.” Dr. Kravetz shares that one of his favorite pieces in his collection is an old leech jar. “Doctors used to apply leeches to the body as a form of treatment to bleed the patient,” he explains. "I bought this leech jar, in of all places, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. There was a pharmacist who collected medical antiques, and I bought the leech jar years ago for $250.” He says that sometimes he sends some of his items to an auction house that specializes in pharmaceutical antiques, and they told him that specific leech jar would go for $6,500 in an auction. But he doesn’t often sell his pieces, opting instead to donate them, and he’s proud to say that he is down to a “reasonable amount” of boxes after the tons he started with years ago. “I come from back East, and I went to medical school in New York – one of the oldest medical schools in the country,” says Kravetz. “A lot of the medical schools back East had medical museums, but we didn't have any type of medical history museum here, so I was pleased that we could have something for our students. “When I teach, I say, ‘You have to pay homage to those physicians who went before you. It’s not all about what you do today. What you do and what you know is standing on the shoulders of those who came before.’ I think it's very important that they understand that.” ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE | MAY/JUNE 2021 29


How do you know you’re ready for retirement?

It’s not just the finances


n intriguing finding emerged from a 2019 RAND Corporation survey on Americans and their working conditions. It turned out that 40% of employees 65 and older had previously retired, but something lured them back to the working world. In some cases, financial troubles might have been the cause. But often, the reason is that people neglect a critical component in their retirement planning. “They don’t think about what they will do with their extra time, or how they will give their life the meaning and purpose work provided,” says Patti Hart, co-author with her husband, Milledge, of The Resolutionist: Welcome to the Anti-Retirement 30 MAY/JUNE 2021 | ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE

Movement ( “Money is certainly important, but it’s not the only thing that determines whether your retirement is a success,” she says. “It may be that you are financially ready to retire but are a long way from being emotionally ready.” The Harts spent more than 30 years as executive leaders in numerous technology and investment banking businesses. Today, in what they refer to as the “Resolutionist” – rather than retirement – phase of their lives, they are applying their resources and skills in new ways to advance philanthropic and corporate activities around the globe. Here they offer tips for figuring out when to retire and for making sure you’re successful when you do:





Identify milestones or signs that will let you know you are ready to embark on a new postwork life. Yes, that could be when you’ve accumulated a certain amount of savings. But it might also be related to when your spouse quits their job, or when your children graduate college and head out on their own. Maybe your plan is to work until your health gives out. “Knowing your catalysts can mean the difference between successfully transitioning to a fulfilled life after your career is over, or boomeranging back to the full-time workforce simply because you didn’t know why you quit to begin with,” says Milledge.

For many people, moving from the excitement and fulfillment of a career to the quietness of retirement is too much. They develop a form of “separation anxiety,” longing for their old way of life rather than venturing boldly into the new one. “You need to make a plan for what you want to do in your new post-career life, so you aren’t floundering when you get there,” says Patti.

At work, people are thrown into uncomfortable situations and have no choice but to face them head on. In retirement, it’s easier to avoid discomfort, but doing so diminishes your confidence, and you miss out on opportunities for personal growth and fun. “It would seem counterintuitive to think that being uncomfortable brings happiness, but it does. Go at life as if it’s an adventure – because it is,” Milledge says. “When you accomplish something you didn’t think you could, you get a jolt of endorphins that drives you to your next challenge.”

Even when people want to try a new hobby or activity, they sometimes are afraid to do it alone. In retirement, you might not have the social network you once did. You may long for a good friend you can rely on. But if you think about it, you already have that friend – yourself. So as you prepare for retirement, be ready to go solo on occasion. “When you get to this stage, you will often find that some things on your list are on your list alone,” Patti says. “No one in your universe shares your interest or has the time to join you. That’s all right. If you are going to continue to grow, you need sometimes to feel like you did something completely on your own.”

“Don’t convince yourself that in retirement, you are going to be destined to a life of watching evening game shows and baking pies unless, of course, that is what you love to

do,” Milledge says. “My advice is nothing is off limits, so reach for the stars. Look forward rather than backward, and embrace the new you.” ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE | MAY/JUNE 2021 31


Moments to remember

We invited a few residents of Sagewood, a senior adult community in Phoenix, to answer the following question: What moment in your history do you most vividly remember? Their responses, compiled by Contributing Editor Leni Reiss, all reflect thoughtful recollections of memorable life experiences.


When I was 12 years old and living with my parents in an apartment building in The Bronx, there was a radio on a table in our living room. I used to turn the radio on and crawl under the table to listen. It was Dec. 11, 1941, and President Roosevelt was speaking to the nation. I remember he said that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. I ran to my mother and told her I wanted to sign up to fight the Japanese. She calmed me down and said that I was too young to fight. I found solace in reading my favorite Superman comic book.


The year was 1968. The day: June 6. The place: Vienna, Austria I was strolling Philharmoniker Strasse in search of “The Original Sacher-Torte.” All of a sudden, the pedestrian traffic stopped. People were congregating, speaking excitedly while watching and listening to news being transmitted from radios and televisions in shop windows. I stopped dead in my tracks and started

to cry uncontrollably. Robert Kennedy had been assassinated. Truly a shot heard round the world.

an American flag in our window, and it stayed there for a long time.


When I was a stockbroker working at the Buffalo office of Merrill Lynch on Nov. 22, 1963, the market was up early, then dropped like a rock, double executing limited sell orders for the same stock when the news of the Kennedy shooting came out. Accounts sold the same stock twice. It took until after 9:30 pm that evening to catch up printing transactions on the tape. More than 13 million shares were traded that day. That volume today for an individual stock would not be enough to include it in the top 10 most active.

Sept. 11, 2001 was the event that had the greatest effect on me. We were living in Ithaca, NY, and that morning I had just finished a round of tennis. When I got home, I heard a brief radio report about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. The news escalated to report on a second plane. It became evident that this was an attack on our country. I immediately thought of my daughter, who lived in Manhattan. My wife that morning had embarked on an annual car trip with friends to Stratford, Ontario, to see some theater. She called from Canada to tell me that Red Cross stations were set up for Canadians to donate blood for survivors. My daughter was able to reach me to assure me that she was fine but frightened. She wanted to come home, but, as a clinical therapist, she decided to stay in New York to treat survivors or anyone who might need help. To show our patriotic support for our country, we immediately placed




Looking back in time, my first response to the question is the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Pictures of that moment were played and replayed over and over again in the media, and an indelible image is etched in my mind. Some years ago, on a visit to Dallas, TX, I visited the third-floor museum in the Texas School Book Depository and relived that horrific event. Enshrined in the museum are the

photos, films, tapes and articles detailing that never to be forgotten moment in history.


My lifelong wanderlust began when, at an early age, I was given a copy of Richard Halliburton’s Complete Book of Marvels. It had photos of such treasures as the Taj Mahal, Mount Everest, the pyramids and the temples of Angkor Wat in the jungles of Indochina. When I visited Thailand in 1999, the Khmer Rouge still were holding out in the Cambodia jungle around Angkor Wat. Although tourists were allowed, not many came. I decided to make the trip, with the images from the Book of Marvels embedded in my mind. It was a beastly hot day, and I traveled in a hired car with a driver, guidebook in hand. We were stopped and checked by fully armed soldiers at the entry to Angkor Archaeological Park. My first view of the temples was sudden and full, like a curtain being raised in an opera house to reveal a magnificent set. I was stunned. That moment of sheer revelation has stayed with me since that day.


On November 22, 1963, I was a secondgrade teacher at a New York school walking my students to their bus when the school custodian came running over to me and said, “The President is dead!” I said, “What president? The president of what?” Once he explained, all the teachers ran back into the school to turn on a television set. We watched the news in horror for hours. That marked the end of Camelot. I had been married only four months, and my husband and I spent the first years of our marriage reading every book and attending lectures and speakers on the

1. Ticker tape 2. Robert F. Kennedy 3. Israel becomes a Jewish state. 4. President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy 5. The Twin Towers memorial lights. 6. Angkor Wat 7. Pearl Harbor attack



Continued on next page






ACTIVELY SENIOR assassination. My husband was sure that Chief Justice Earl Warren, on his death bed, would reveal details about who was behind Kennedy’s murder. It was a sad day in our home when Warren died without providing the information we had hoped for.


I grew up in Washington D.C., which in many ways was the news capital of the world. Everyone knew someone who knew someone who had all the information on anything that was happening. I was twelve years old and the big story was the creation of the Jewish state of Israel. Some friends of my father had approached him to collect arms for the defense of this new state. Israel was surrounded by five enemy states that had warned they would attack and annihilate the Jewish population if statehood were declared. Another big question was whether the United States would recognize the creation of this Jewish state, since President Truman’s cabinet was divided on the question. George Marshall, the Secretary of State and the President’s closest advisor, declared that he would resign if Truman supported statehood. We also heard that a woman, whose first name was Golda, was part of Israel’s cabinet and was traveling to the United States to raise funds to equip the newly formed defense forces. This raised the question, “Where could

they get arms even if the necessary funds were raised since none of the major countries, including the United States, would sell arms to the new state?” The work of my father and his friends’ collection efforts would not be sufficient to equip an army. Well, Truman talked Marshall out of resigning. Truman’s best buddy from his army days in World War I, who was also his former business partner in Missouri, happened to be Jewish. He came to the oval office to plead for the recognition. That won the day. We listened with great excitement to the United Nations’ vote to recognize Israel. The five neighboring countries did attack and were driven back by the well-equipped Israeli Defense Forces, and the new state and its people survived. One question that was not answered until a couple of years ago was how the IDF got the necessary arms to defeat the invading armies. My wife and I took a vacation trip that covered the major capitals of eastern Europe, which included the Czech Republic. Passing a government building, we noticed a plaque in English and stopped to read. It said in part, “The people of Israel wish to thank the people of the Czech Republic for supplying our defense forces with the necessary armaments for our war of independence.”


There are two experiences


that affected me greatly, one as a teenager and the other as an adult. The first experience came on Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, just before class was to recess for lunch. The announcement over the PA system left most of us stunned. My parents, along with many other people of that era, had been so optimistic about a president who had fought in World War II, like they had, and was of their generation. It took time to process, and I am not sure when it sunk in that the president had been killed; maybe watching the news that night with pictures of LBJ being sworn in, I don’t know. What I know is that this was the first time I had, as a young person, had to deal with death, especially death that was not, and is still not, understood. The next time my understanding of the world changed drastically, along with every American’s was Sept. 11, 2001. There is little one can say about that day, most heard through a ripple effect as people caught the news on their computers, one plane, then another, then confusion. I was in an office building where there were large screen TVs in an atrium area, and many flocked to those to see the carnage. The unbelievable had happened, again. Indeed, the weeks and months after changed most of us, our perceptions of our safety, and the threat from terrorists living halfway across the world. *Stevie is not a resident at Sagewood.

Jewish Grandparents Network

T.A. Burrows


he Jewish Grandparents Network began in August 2017 when co-founders Lee M. Hendler and David Raphael realized the under-recognized role of grandparents and the complex dynamics of today’s “new Jewish family.” Lee serves as president and David as CEO. Lee worked for decades on her family’s charitable foundations and in leadership roles in many Jewish and communal organizations. She author of The Year Mom Got Religion: One Woman’s Mid-Life Journey into Judaism and is “Gromzy” to six grandchildren. David has spent virtually all his professional career in Jewish communal service. A graduate of the Columbia University School of Social Work, he spent 30 years in Hillel, including roles as Assistant International Director, Executive Director of Hillel of Greater Baltimore and Senior Campus Liaison for Hillel International. David has one granddaughter. The JGN website shares stories and essays by grandparents, family members and professionals along with educational and informational resources and videos on grandparenting today. Since the onset of the pandemic, JGN has gathered anecdotal data about grandparents’ challenges, fears and frustrations, as well as the shifting roles they are playing in their families. They felt they needed quantitative data to assess current trends, so they developed a short grandparents’ survey, distributed on social media and by email, and received 291 responses. While the survey lacks the high level of external validity of the 2019 National Study of Jewish Grandparents conducted by Karen Radkowsky of Impact:NPO, the results provide important insights into how the pandemic has impacted grandparents’ roles in their families. In many families, grandparents have stepped up and stepped in to help exhausted parents with remote learning, everyday chores and basic childcare. There is, of course, another side of the COVID experience for grandparents. Some grandparents have not seen their grandchildren since the start of the pandemic and others have yet to meet grandchildren born in the last nine months.Read the results of their findings here: https:// Grandparents-and-Covid-For-WEB.pdf There is no doubt that grandparents and their families face challenges during the pandemic and also, more broadly, in the context of today’s new and changing Jewish family. Grandparents are the ones to often guide us, but they also need the wisdom, and collective support of our Jewish community. There is no membership fee to participate in the Jewish Grandparent Network. For more information, visit

Engaging and enriching virtual programs for older adults JFCS Center for Senior Enrichment


he Center for Senior Enrichment, under the auspices of Jewish Family & Children’s Service, provides weekday free Zoom programming for all older adults throughout the Valley, exploring music, movement, history, art and more during the month of May. For Mother’s Day, T.A. Burrows will be presenting a Mother’s Day concert, Sing Street Café, on Friday, May 7 at 1 pm. T.A. is a local treasure, providing endless hours of music and song throughout the Valley. He’ll include the great jazz standards and timeless works penned by legendary composers such as George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, and many others. Rabbi Laibel Blotner will be returning for a new series called Jewish Life and Tradition. The first class is on Tuesday, May 25 at 1 pm and will continue on each fourth Tuesday of the month. On May 27 at 11 am, join Judi Gyory Missel for “Pajama” Geneology. Judi, a member of the Phoenix Jewish Genealogy Group and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, has been fascinated by genealogy for ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE | MAY/JUNE 2021 35

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more than 30 years. Join this 4 part series to explore how to search your family roots from the comforts of your own home. Movement and Dance classes are offered Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, including everything from chair yoga and ballet to Latin Fusion dances. Fridays include a Welcome Shabbat program at 11 am, with special guests, songs, blessings and inspirational teachings. “Our attendance has increased each week since we began in November,” states Jennifer Brauner, CSE director. “Through our virtual presentations, we have eliminated the transportation issue many older adults face, enabling us to reach out throughout the Valley to provide meaningful, engaging programs to older adults in the comfort and safety of their own homes.” Classes and programs are open to all older adults in the Greater Phoenix area. New offerings are added each month. All are free and available on Zoom. The Center for Senior Enrichment offers additional stimulating programs in the worlds of art, history, theatre and creative writing. For a complete list of classes, visit

Smile on Seniors

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mile on Seniors, under the leadership of Rabbi Levi and Chani Levertov, switched to Zoom programming during the pandemic and will continue to do so during the month of May with two virtual presentations each week. These virtual presentations are open to all and begin at 12:30 pm. Join Henry Sapoznik for a presentation on May 7 of African American Cantors who performed Yiddish and cantorial music in and for the Jewish community, in theaters on record, radio and in concert between the World Wars. On May 10, join Holocaust educator, speaker and author Dr. Ettie Zilber for From Liberation and Loos, to Love, Lemons and Laughter as she shares about her mother’s new odyssey after liberation from five years of terror and abuse. Join Smile On Seniors and JFCS Center for Senior Enrichment with Comedian Joel Chasnoff on May 12. Joel’s comedy show is about the joys and oys of all things Jewish. Gather together on May 13 for a Jewish Q&A with Rabbi Levi for a stimulating discussion on an issue relevant to Judaism in contemporary society as well as a focus on the upcoming holiday of Shavuot. More upcoming virtual events feature a movie discussion of “Menashe” with Rivka Slonim (time for this event will be 11 am) on May 20 and In the Kitchen with Benita on May 27. There is an in person BBQ event planned for May 24. Enjoy delicious goodies hot off the grill while in good company. Of course, enjoy all this from a well ventilated, covered and cooled outdoor venue (address will be shared with confirmed reservation). RSVP required before May 21. For more information, visit



All aboard the

Adventure Bus

Participants enjoy some of the many indoor activities offered by Adventure Bus.


dventure Bus is Tucson Handmaker’s outreach program providing recreation and socialization for participants with mild to moderate stages of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia while offering respite to caregivers. Starting May 11, day sessions will be held inside once a week on Tuesdays until the fall session. In the fall, we hope to add a day and start offering trips again. For more information or to schedule a pre-screening interview, call Angela Salmon, program director, at 520-547-6007 or email at



Introducing The Duchess Collection. Add these earring jackets to your diamond studs and other favorites to expand your earring wardrobe like a princess. Handcrafted in heirloom quality by master jeweler Masaaki Takahashi with European crystals. Fabulously light catching. Feel and look like high quality fine jewelry. Feather light because of the rare Yosemono art of Samurai tradition. Each earring jacket set includes 1 pair of Chrysmela Catch, Platinum. Front earrings are not included. Apply to any studs you have. $135.00 •


Freshcut paper Send some colorful and whimsical earth friendly flower bouquet greeting cards that pop up and bring joy to any room. $12.00 •



Hibernation's Over, Beaches (Perfect Tan Bronzer) Hibernation’s Over, Beaches! will instantly give your skin a boost of radiance. Even if you have been in quarantine! The weightless bronzer, infused with subtle gold dust, will leave your complexion with a perfectly nude-skin effect and sultry glow. Their formula is enhanced with natural SPF and Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect against the effects of free radicals. $45.00 •


Bath Bean - Give your mom a day to remember by bringing the spa atmosphere home. The Bath Bean is THE luxury accessory designed to keep you in one spot while bathing. The Bath Bean is a sleek silicone stopper that holds your body in a reclined position. No more slipping! This releases body tension and allows your limbs to float for the ultimate weightless relaxation experience. Let the hot water do the work while you enter a state of pure bliss. $99.00


Celestial Silk - Pure silk pillowcases & pure silk accessories for restful beauty sleep. Naturally reduce signs of aging & stress with a silk pillowcase. Sleep soundly. Sleep in silk. Silk Pillowcase - 25 Momme Pure Mulberry Silk. From $ 35.99 •

HEAVEN IN A CUP Tea Fortē - Experience our limited-edition Jardin Collection, created in partnership with The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). Includes: One limited-edition Mini Petite Presentation Box (10 infusers, 5 blends). Blends: Chamomile Citron, Chocolate Rose, Green Mango Peach, Strawberry Hibiscus, Vanilla Pear $49.99 •


A hug - after the slog of 2020, 2021 appears to be shaping up for close contact. I think any mother would find theis the perfect gift and one she didn't realize was so essential. Free


Ponytail Hats - So many Moms are wearing hats right now, either as a quick hair fix or a stylish accent. Finally, there’s a hat that allows you to style your hair your way and fits super comfortably. Ponytail wearers will love it! Get to know Ponyback Hats, your newest must-have accessory that lets you style your hair however it suits you best, up or down. Created by a mom entrepreneur, the hats are for all hair types from big luscious curly locks to fine tresses, extensions, and dreads. Curly pony, no pony, high bun, high pony - Ponyback Hats has you covered. How do they do it? A large magnetic opening at the back accommodates any hair type eliminating velcro, buttons, or snaps. The front structure is kept in place so you look stylish no matter what the day brings. The stretch material fits all head sizes with women’s and girls’ styles available. $ 49.99 • ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE | MAY/JUNE 2021 41



Baby Fire Pits From coffee tables to picnic tables, spruce up your space for Spring in a magical new way with Baby Fire Pits. These pint sized beauties are crafted from gorgeous copper and durable steel and use smokeless, odorless gel fuel to cast their glow without staining your covered porches, outdoor umbrellas, or ceiling Not everyone has a backyard for bonfires and marshmallow roasts, but with Baby Fire Pits you can get the parwty started anywhere! Each fire pit is one of a kind due to the beautiful patina of the copper! • Measures in at 10” tall with a 6” diameter • Includes one can of Echo Valley gel fuel $84.99 •

Ultimate Grilling Spice Set Lets face it no ones burgers taste better than dads, no ones bbq is yummier! So lets arm our favorite grill masters with the ultimate spice and seasoning set for the long summer months. Whether he's out on the deck or cooking up a storm in the kitchen any dad will be honored to receive this fathers day gift. Its a seal of approval for all his grilling efforts. $39.99 •


Putt Out -Putting Mirror Trainer with Gate Work on your short game with this putting mirror alignment aid that lets you perfect your putt shot. Calibrate eye, shoulder, and ball alignment with its mirrored surface and magnetic adjustable guides that rest on top. Ready to practice? Start swinging. $74.99 •


Iconic Paw -Regal portraits Just imagine yourself, striking your regal pose as the King himself. Let them all bask in your glory. Everyone will be in awe... including you. Hand-drawn by our masterful artists. Each portrait is crafted with care and great attention to detail. So, simply upload your photo, and our artists will give you something that will make you proud. Because you deserve it. $49.99 •



Stadium Views - 3-D Stadium Picture Frame These 3D stadium picture frames pay tribute to some of the most famous (and beloved) professional and college sports stadiums in the USA. These frames are sure to be a fan favorite. Comes in a variety of major professional sports leagues and teams. $29.99 •


Vbro - Give Dad the ultimate catch; a week surf-fishing at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Go to Vbro and type in your destination, dates, and other criteria. There are filters to customize your requirements.•


Yeti - Meet the leakproof, tough-as-nails, carry-the-day soft cooler. $249.99 •


Grown Alchemist - 16.9 oz. Hand Wash (LG) - Sweet Orange/Cedarwood/Sage $37 •




Debbie Popiel

on the mat for mindfulness By Mala Blomquist


hen Debbie Popiel first tried yoga, she didn’t have the greatest experience. “There was weird music playing, nobody explained anything to me, and I didn't get it. I was like, ‘I can't do this,’” she says. “Then years later, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I took a class and it was a very different experience. I enjoyed it.” But after her daughter was born, she had two children and didn’t have the time to fit the practice into her life. While she was director of early childhood education at Temple Chai in Phoenix, yoga once again entered her life. She met Ali Kamen, who had a child at the preschool and also happened to own Zenergy Yoga. Ali offered to come and teach yoga to the kids and lunchtime yoga for the teachers. Ali told Debbie that she thought she would be great at yoga and told her to come to her studio. Debbie was a runner and training for a marathon and Ali convinced her that yoga would be a good complement to her running and help her keep flexible and injury free. But Debbie made every excuse not to go, including the expense, until Ali made her an offer she couldn’t resist – come to the studio for free. “She explained every pose, and it became like a way of life for me – it gave me clarity in running and in life, and it helped me quiet my mind and connect in a way I didn't even know existed,” says Debbie. “I'm a New York Jew. My mind is always going, and I’m always talking, or thinking, or eating. So to be able to like, quiet down, it was a gift.” As her children became older, she left the preschool world to work at Lululemon. “Lululemon isn't just about selling stretchy pants,” says Debbie. “They are about accomplishing goals and striving big and reaching your GLICKMAN dreams.” 44 MAY/JUNE 2021 | ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE

After she had worked there a few years, she found out that they were putting together an in-house yoga teacher training program. They received 150 applications for the 40 spots available in the training, and Debbie received one of those spots. “So here I was practicing yoga and working at Lululemon and having this opportunity,” remembers Debbie. “It became this goal to do 50 things before I turned 50.” One of the things on that list was to become a yoga teacher. “I got accepted on my 50th birthday. I was in yoga teacher training, and I became a yoga teacher.” She jokes that although the path leading her to yoga was a crooked one, she believes that it’s the perfect marriage of everything in her life: teaching, spirituality and connection to one’s self. “I became a yoga teacher and when everything happened with COVID-19, I was able to pivot and create my own business – Debbie Popiel Yoga.” Debbie teaches throughout the Valley, in addition to offering classes on Zoom and oneon-one private instruction. Debbie says that people are often intimidated to try yoga because of a pre-existing thought about their age or fitness level. “I feel like making it real and making it accessible is something that I strive to do,” she says. “Everybody's got a thing that keeps them from taking that chance on trying something new. There are always a million reasons not to do something. So helping people find a reason to do it is really my passion.” Another passion of Debbie’s is traveling and teaching yoga in exceptional settings. She has done two international retreats and four retreats in Sedona. “I partner with Synchronicity Yoga, and we're going to Costa Rica June 5-12,” she says. “We didn’t go last year because it got canceled, but the year before, we went to Bali in January, and we took about 20 people.” During these retreats, the participants have various activities to choose from, but the day always starts with a morning yoga flow and ends with a closing circle. Debbie says that they also plan a theme that they can focus on throughout the week. “It's extraordinary to see what happens in a week of practicing yoga,” she says. “What's so beautiful about yoga is that it keeps you healthy and flexible, physically and spiritually. It keeps you right minded, and I think that that's a really important piece, especially during COVID times,” says Debbie. “If you can quiet your mind, you can stay calm in these situations that are sometimes not so calm. I think it's really important to be able to close your eyes and take a few breaths. I do joke, but in all seriousness, if I can meditate, anybody can meditate.” For more information, or to see the schedule of classes offered, visit

What's so beautiful about yoga is that it keeps you healthy and flexible, physically and spiritually. It keeps you right minded, and I think that that's a really important piece, especially during COVID


times... ~Debbie Popiel


This summer, get lost in a book Compiled by Mala Blomquist IT’S SUMMER!

Amid Rage by Joel Burcat (Headline Books; February 2021) Up-and-coming environmental lawyer Mike Jacobs finds himself caught in the middle of a potentially lethal legal situation when a small Pennsylvania community is harassed by Ernie Rinati, the owner of Rhino Mining Co. who will stop at nothing to see that his new mine becomes operational. Sid Feldman, an influential big-city lawyer, the enigmatic Miranda Clymer, and Mike’s best friend Nicky Kane also join in the legal fray.


I DON’T KNOW if it’s the slower pace or the thought of curling up outside with a book by the pool (or beach!) that sounds so delightful, but there is something about summer and reading that goes together. Also, aren’t we all a little sick of binge-watching TV by now? Following are some books that I have come across and wanted to share with you. Enjoy!

Life and Other Shortcomings by Corie Adjmi (She Writes Press; Aug. 2020) A collection of linked short stories that takes the reader from New Orleans to New York City to Madrid, and from 1970 to the present day. The women in these twelve stories make a number of different choices: some work, others don’t; some stay married, some get divorced; others never marry at all. Through each character’s intimate journey, specific truths are revealed about what it means to be a woman – in a relationship with another person, in a particular culture and era – and how these conditions ultimately affect her relationship with herself. Prairie Sonata by Sandy Shefrin Rabin (Friesen Press; Nov. 2020) Mira Adler grows up in post–World War II Canada in a close-knit Manitoba community founded by secular Jews from Eastern Europe. The heart of the story is her relationship with her Yiddish teacher, Chaver B, a recent immigrant from Prague who is mysterious and intriguing and who Mira believes harbors a painful secret. Chaver B becomes deeply intwined in Mira’s life, and their relationship evolves, especially after he offers to teach her to play the violin. What she learns about his history both outrages and saddens her, yet she cannot stop herself from uncovering the truth about his life. The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner (Hachette Book Group; April 2021) Enter a world of Jewish fairy tales, Romanian fables, and Hungarian legend in this entrancing historical fantasy novel. Deep in the Hungarian woods, the sacred magic of King Solomon lives on in three sisters, each blessed with a unique magical ability. As a dark fog makes its way to their village, the sisters learn secrets and make choices that will change their family forever.


FICTION literature in the form

of prose, especially short stories and novels, that describes imaginary events and people.

The Summer of Lost Letters by Hannah Reynolds (Penguin Group; June 2021)

Summer of Stolen Secrets by Julie Sternberg (Viking; May 2021)

Shortly after the death of her grandmother, 17-year-old Abby Schoenberg discovers a trove of love letters from a mystery man named Edward. With her friends spread out and no concrete summer plans, the intriguing letters have her packing her bags for Nantucket to learn more about Edward and a grandmother who, it turns out, is much different than the woman she knew.

This heartwarming, and at times heartbreaking, coming of age inspired by the author’s own childhood is about a New York City girl spending the summer with her relatives in Baton Rouge, LA. She reconnects with her safta, her strict Jewish grandmother who cut off contact after her father married a Christian woman, and her own Jewish identity when she discovers secrets her family has long kept about safta’s escape from Nazi Germany. ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE | MAY/JUNE 2021 47



NON FICTION prose writing that is

based on facts, real events, and real people, such as biography or history. “high on the bestseller lists of nonfiction”


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm: The Adrenaline-Fueled Adventures of an Accidental Scientist by Robert Lefkowitz, MD, with Randy Hall (Pegasus Books; February 2021) The rollicking memoir from the cardiologist turned legendary scientist and winner of the Nobel Prize that revels in the joy of science and discovery. Filled to the brim with anecdotes and energy, and gives us a glimpse into the life of one of today's leading scientists. Becoming a Soulful Parent: A Path to the Wisdom Within by Dasee Berkowitz (Kasva Press LCC; March 2021) Combining insights from thousands of years of traditional Jewish wisdom with her own utterly relatable first-person storytelling, the author helps you embrace every moment with your family while leaning into the challenges of parenting with renewed perspective and enthusiasm. Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday Books; April 2021) A grand, devastating portrait of three generations of the Sackler family, famed for their philanthropy, whose fortune was built by Valium and whose reputation was destroyed by OxyContin. Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy by Anne Sebba (St. Martin’s Press, June 2021) A moving biography of Ethel Rosenberg, the wife and mother whose execution for espionagerelated crimes defined the Cold War and horrified the world Seventy years after her trial, this is the first time Ethel’s story has been told with the full use of the dramatic and tragic prison letters she exchanged with her husband, her lawyer and her psychotherapist over a three-year period, two of them in solitary confinement. If Anyone Calls, Tell Them I Died by Emanuel Rosen (Amsterdam Publishers; March 2021) This true story demonstrates the devastating consequences of Nazi persecution, even for survivors who fled Europe before WWII and did not experience the horrors of the Holocaust. It is also a stark reminder of the heavy psychological toll of uprooting, still experienced by refugees and exiles today. THE NINE: The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany by Gwen Strauss (St. Martin’s Press, May 2021) The dramatic tale of the author’s great aunt Hélène Podliasky, who led a band of nine female resistance fighters as they escaped a German forced labor camp and made a ten-day journey across the front lines of WWII from Germany back to Paris. Drawing on incredible research, this powerful, heart-stopping narrative is a moving tribute to the power of humanity and friendship in the darkest of times.




FIRE UP that grill!


f summer had a taste, it would definitely be something grilled to perfection. These recipes cover a complete meal from main dish to dessert – all from the grill!

SWEET TEA BRINED CHICKEN For the tastiest chicken ever, brine a whole cut-up chicken in sweet tea with lemon.

INGREDIENTS: 2 family-size tea bags ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar ¼ cup kosher salt 1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced 1 lemon, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, halved 2 (6-inch) fresh rosemary sprigs 1 tablespoon freshly cracked pepper 2 cups ice cubes 1 (3 1/2-to 4-lb.) cut-up whole chicken

INSTRUCTIONS: Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 3-qt. heavy saucepan; add tea bags. Remove from heat; cover and steep 10 minutes. Discard tea bags. Stir in sugar and next 6 ingredients, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool completely (about 45 minutes); stir in ice. (Mixture should be cold before adding chicken.) Place tea mixture and chicken in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag; seal. Place bag in a shallow baking dish and chill 24 hours. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade; pat chicken dry with paper towels. Light one side of grill, heating to 50 MAY/JUNE 2021 | ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE

300° to 350° (medium) heat; leave other side unlit. Place chicken, skin side down, over unlit side, and grill, covered with grill lid, 20 minutes. Turn chicken, and grill, covered with grill lid, 20 minutes. Turn chicken, and grill, covered with grill lid, 40 to 50 minutes or until done. Transfer chicken, skin side down, to lit side of grill, and grill 2 to 3 minutes or until skin is crispy. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Recipe courtesy Southern Living, photo credit: Hector Sanchez; styling: Karin Olsen

THE BEST EASY GRILLED VEGETABLES Zucchini, bell pepper, onions, asparagus, and mushrooms become sweet and savory when cooked on the grill. With just a brushing of olive oil and sprinkling of salt and pepper, this cooking method is simple and lets the vegetables natural goodness shine through. INGREDIENTS: 2 portobello mushrooms 1 eggplant 1 zucchini 1 yellow squash 1 onion 1 bunch thick asparagus 1 red bell pepper 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon kosher salt 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS: Prepare the grill with clean grates and preheat to medium heat, 350°F to 450°F. Trim the ends of the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and onion and cut into 1/3" to 1/2" slices. Seed the red bell pepper and cut into quarters. Trim the ends of the asparagus. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables with the lid closed until tender and lightly charred all over, about 8 to 10 minutes for the bell peppers, onion, and mushroom; 5-7 minutes for the yellow squash, zucchini, and eggplant and asparagus. Serve warm or at room temperature. Recipe courtesy Foodie Crush ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE | MAY/JUNE 2021 51


HERBED MUSHROOM AND RICE FOIL PACKS Yes, you can make rice on the grill and all you need is aluminum foil.


INGREDIENTS: 1 cup chicken broth 2 tablespoons butter, melted 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup uncooked instant white rice 1 pound button mushrooms, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves Lemon wedges, if desired INSTRUCTIONS: Heat gas or charcoal grill. Cut 4 (18x12-inch) sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix broth, melted butter, brown sugar, garlic, thyme and salt. Add instant rice; stir and let stand about 10 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed. Divide mushrooms evenly among sheets of foil, then top with rice mixture. Bring up 2 sides of foil so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation and expansion. Fold other sides to seal. Place packs on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 12 minutes. Rotate packs 1/2 turn; cook 12 to 14 minutes longer or until mushrooms and rice are tender. Remove packs from grill; cut large X across top of each pack. Carefully fold back foil, and garnish with parsley. Serve with lemon wedges. Recipe courtesy Tablespoon Kitchens


GRILLED BERRY PEACH PIE Did you know you can make a pie on the grill? Pie for dessert, no oven needed. INGREDIENTS: 1 pie crust from a pack of two or you can use a homemade crust 3 cups berries fresh or frozen, see note below 1/3 cup granulated sugar plus more for sprinkling 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon Zest of 1/2 a lemon, about 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon heavy whipping cream 2 disposable foil pie pans or square baking pans INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat grill to as close to 350°F as you can get it. Place berries in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and zest. Toss with your hands. Unroll pie crust and place it in a disposable foil pie plate (or a disposable foil square pan). Place fruit in the center and fold up the edges to form the crust. Brush the edges with heavy whipping cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar (optional). Place a second foil pie plate or square baking pan upside down on the grill. Place the pie (in its pan) on top of the inverted pan and close the lid to the grill. Cook until the crust is cooked through, from 20-30 minutes depending on how hot your grill is. Check it at 15 minutes and then every few minutes after to make sure it doesn’t burn. Carefully remove pie from grill. Cool before slicing. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream! Note about frozen fruit – be sure to let it thaw before making your pie. Frozen fruit has a lot of extra water and will cause your pie to be juicier. Let it thaw and drain it well. Recipe courtesy Crazy for Crust ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE | MAY/JUNE 2021 53


Elias-Axel Pettersson: Brings his passion for piano to the Valley


By Mala Blomquist

lias-Axel Pettersson was born in Sweden, raised in New Mexico, and lived in Montreal, Canada, for 11 years before relocating to the Valley in 2018 to be with his fiancé, Jessica Yam. It was in Canada that he received his doctorate from the Université de Montréal. He started playing the violin and piano at an early age and studied both instruments throughout college until he started focusing more on the piano for his master’s degree. He’s also taught music from a young age. His “first job” was as a teacher’s aide for the Hebrew school, which he’s sure his mom had a part in getting him the job. “I became sort of the assistant choir director with a wonderful hazzan, Josh Perlman, in Albuquerque at Congregation B’nai Israel,” says Elias. “I would play piano with the choir and help with the kids preparing for their bar/bat mitzvah. That was what I did from age 14 to 18, and I made $2.50 an hour.” In college, at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York, he was allowed to have a work-study program, so he did that long with teaching a few private students. For his master’s degree, he taught class piano at the university and was also a teacher’s assistant. When he arrived in the Valley, he began teaching 9th through 12th grade piano at Arizona School for the Arts, a charter school in Phoenix with an emphasis on the performing arts. He also teaches at Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for Children, which offers free music instruction for children in inner-city Phoenix. Elias teaches class piano and has private students and co-chairs the piano department at Rosie’s House with Jessica. “As musicians, we're always piecemealing things together – I don't have that coveted professorship at a university, of course, that’s what I’m aiming for,” says 54 MAY/JUNE 2021 | ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE

Elias. “As a result, I have three or four part-time jobs that I put together in addition to my performing career, which more of a career than just a job.” Another organization that Elias is very involved in is the Arizona Piano Institute. In 2013, Snezana Krstic had the vision to create a summer festival for Arizona’s young pianists that would provide an unparalleled opportunity for enrichment. This was something near and dear to Elias’s heart because, in 2015, he founded the Southwest Piano Festival, a summer performance series dedicated to promoting the art of piano in New Mexico. When he moved to Arizona, Jessica was already involved with the institute, so Elias joined and is now on their board as director of program development. Jessica is the artistic director. “We launched a concerto competition last year, and this year we had a virtual solo competition which is a North American-wide competition and I'm the director of that,” says Elias. “We've seen a lot of virtual competitions opening up, and we thought we needed to open up something too. We've got a lot of applicants from across the United States and Canada.” The Arizona Piano Institute also hosts a non-competitive Summer Festival annually. This year it will be held virtually from May 30 through June 6. “It's a great opportunity for young students, and even older students up to the collegiate level, in Arizona to study with really great master teachers that we bring in from across the world,” says Elias. “We've had professors from big-name schools in the United States like Mannes College in New York, Eastman School of Music, Indiana University and USD. We’ve also brought a professor from the Kyiv Conservatory in Ukraine. So really diverse, incredible instructors.” The festival also offers presentations by Phoenix area

Elias-Axel Pettersson professionals that have covered a variety of topics, including music as a career, musical theory and composition, the history of different composers and sight singing. Elias talks about a unique presentation from a piano technician. “He came in and took a piano apart and showed the inner workings of it,” he says. “There are 88 keys, but a piano is made up of 10,000 moving parts, and he demonstrated how they all work together. We’ve presented a lot of different things.” Elias has been busy in the short time he has been in Arizona, a reason why he hasn’t found his niche yet in the Jewish community. He was part of a close-knit synagogue in Montreal, and it's been tough here because “everybody's from everywhere – it’s a big melting pot and very spread out.” To bring people in the Jewish community together,

he performed a piano recital, “Raising Our Spirits with Jewish Artists,” on April 25 in collaboration with the East Valley Jewish Community Center, Temple Beth Shalom of the East Valley and Temple Emanuel of Tempe. The concert was free of charge, and donations were accepted to help those in the community experiencing financial hardship. “I wanted to have a reason for them to come together and know me,” says Elias. “I'm a Jewish musician here, and nobody knows me, and I don't know anybody. So it’s a good way to connect with people.” For more information on Elias, visit, and for details on the Arizona Piano Institute’s Summer Festival, visit ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE | MAY/JUNE 2021 55

j kids & teens

“Collective Compassion” for Mental Health Awareness Month



he Jewish community is bringing the power of “Collective Compassion” to National Mental Health Awareness Month ( A project of the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative for the second year in a row, Collective Compassion shares events and resources from more than a dozen partners in a coordinated response to the significant mental health wellness needs of the Jewish community, amplified over the last 14 months. Pop-up programs, creative workshops, giving circles, “screenside chats” and wellness inspiration throughout the month all draw on Jewish culture and wisdom to increase resiliency and help address rising levels of loneliness, stress, and anxiety. HIGHLIGHTS OF COLLECTIVE COMPASSION INCLUDE: Creativity for Coping, to help build resilience through creative guides such as ‘Storytelling for Strength and Sanity,’ screaming meditation, breathwork, and a comedy show to help people relax, center themselves, and understand how these techniques tie to Jewish wisdom. Education & Awareness to learn and share practical tools for mental health, iGen: Understanding the Smartphone Generation with Dr. Jean Twenge, an event for parents and educators of teens and tweens that will provide ideas for how to help your family find a better balance with technology to be healthier and happier. CPR for Mental Health, an evidence-based course teaching adults how to support young people, ages 12-21. Professionals and others caring adults and parents will benefit from the Jewishly-framed, 6.5 hour training, a mix of self-paced and Instructor-led workshops. Certification valid for three years. Curated books, art, apps and quarantine playlists to provide personal support and to support positive mental health. “Events of the last year have left many reeling with a heightened sense of uncertainty, confusion and loss, and our community is responding in a powerful way” says Sara Allen, Executive Director of the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative. “We are inspired by the creativity and commitment of our partners, and hope people explore the dozens of offerings and learn self-compassion strategies, participate in practices that draw on Jewish tradition, and see that no matter what people are going through – you are not alone.” Collective Compassion partners include At the Well, BBYO, Here Now, Honeycomb, Foundation for Jewish Camp, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, JCC Mid-Westchester, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Jewish LearningWorks, Mitsui Collective, Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies, Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Network, Moving Traditions, NFTY, and Serve the Moment powered by Repair the World to harness the creative spirit and wisdom of many artists and educators. ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE | MAY/JUNE 2021 57

Johanna Shlomovich

ch i v

Jo h a n n a

Sh lo m o

j kids & teens

joins Tucson Hebrew Academy as new head of school


fter a national, and international, search for a new head of school, the Tucson Hebrew Academy has found a new leader for its 20212022 school year. Johanna Shlomovich will be taking over leadership of THA from Dr. Larry Kutler, who came out of retirement to become the interim head of school in January 2019. Johanna is an accomplished leader in the Jewish Day School world. Johanna has played a pivotal role in the successful operation of the Ramaz School, an elite coeducational Jewish Modern Orthodox day school in New York, for the past 20 years. During her tenure, she streamlined and professionalized the school’s operations, cut costs, managed multi-million dollar construction projects, and is the leader in crisis response for the school community. Her perspective on school operations is centered around the student, employee, and family experience to create welcoming and safe environments. Johanna is looked upon as a role model and mentor. She strengthens her school community by celebrating diversity, promoting tolerance and recognizing the successes and accomplishments of her team members and investing in their professional development and growth. She skillfully manages institutional change, shifts in school culture, and invests herself fully in “friend” raising and networking to increase engagement and commitment in the community. Johanna is committed to creating a meaningful and quality Jewish educational experience. Her approach is guided by the Jewish principle of “chanech la’naar al pi darko” (educate each child in the best way for him/ 58 MAY/JUNE 2021 | ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE

her). She helps find the way each student shines and provides opportunities for learning and growing that builds their confidence and helps them become successful, life-long learners. Johanna enjoys a collaborative work approach and has been a guest panelist for Magnus Health webinars geared toward helping schools all over the country reopen and operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is now working with a prominent New York architect firm, FXCollaborative and the American Institute of Architects on a project called “Learning Futures: On the Ground.” This project explores education in the postpandemic world through the lenses of technology, school building facilities, curriculum and health. Johanna earned her bachelor's degree and MBA from Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business and an associate degree in Judaic Studies from Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women. As a life-long learner herself, Johanna recently completed the UJA sponsored Institute for Jewish Executive Leadership at Columbia Business School. This spring, she will begin the Day School Leadership Training Institute at the Jewish Theological Seminary. The institute supports new heads of Jewish day schools by providing engaging experiential learning opportunities, cutting-edge leadership development, ongoing mentoring, and the chance to problem-solve with cohort peers collaboratively. Johanna, and her partner Rami Yadid, together have five children, each privileged to have received a Jewish day school education. Johanna, Rami, and Gavi (the youngest of the five and a rising high school junior) are excited to join the Tucson Jewish community. For more information, visit

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We at Arizona Jewish Life know that you are counting on us to publish our annual Resource Guide, the only one serving the entire state of Arizona, as we have for almost a decade. The 2021-2022 Resource Guide will be even more comprehensive because of all the organizations, congregations, businesses, nonprofits, schools and restaurants that contribute to making it the biggest and best guide yet. Please sign up for The Weekly edition at to be the first to receive the Resource Guide. We need your help to make this the best Resource Guide for our community. To advertise, contact 602-538-2855 or

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OUT OF ARIZONA A stepping stone to unique and alluring works of art

Jewelry made from semiprecious stones that have been cut and polished by hand. Each piece is unique and a one-of-kind work of art. Many of the stones have been collected by hand in the desert Southwest by the jewelry maker. Many stones are set in sterling silver. ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE | MAY/JUNE 2021 59


fun facts about Shavuot in Israel Shavuot begins the evening of May 16, 2021


havuot is a one-day holiday (two in the Diaspora) with many names, dozens of traditions and recipes galore. The hype surrounding the holiday – agricultural festivals at kibbutz and moshav communities, special lectures at synagogues and community centers, sales on everything white at shopping malls, cheaper dairy products at the supermarket, school plays and child-oriented festivals – make it seem as though Shavuot is a much longer event. Here are eight facts you may not have known about the holiday:


Shavuot, which means “Festival of Weeks,” is just one name for the holiday. It also goes by Harvest Festival (Chag HaKatzir), Day of the First Fruits (Yom Habikurim), The Stoppage/ Restrain (Atzeret – a reference the sages use to highlight the prohibition against work on this day), and Time of the Giving of the Torah (Z’man Matan Torah). Shavuot commemorates the day when the Israelites received the Torah during their desert wanderings more than 3,300 years ago, and is the only Jewish holiday mentioned in the Torah without a specific calendar date. Rather, it is to be celebrated 50 days after the second day of Passover. The rabbis say that Passover and Shavuot are really one holiday – the Exodus from Egypt was only complete with the giving of the Torah.


Shavuot is the only Jewish holiday with a dairy menu. The Bible refers to Israel as “the land of milk and honey,” and Shavuot puts the country’s world-famous dairy in the spotlight. The Torah that Moses brought to the Israelites included the commandment to keep kosher. It was much easier to celebrate the receiving of the law with a dairy smorgasbord than to immediately set into motion kosher slaughtering techniques. Moreover, the gematria (numerical value) of the word chalav (milk) is 40, the number of days Moses spent on Mount Sinai receiving the Torah. Israel boasts more than 1,000 locally made dairy products and the world’s largest selection of soft, spreadable white cheeses, according to the Israel Dairy Board. The Dairy Board helps some of the more than 800 dairy farms around the country arrange visiting days for the general public to see how the 125,000 milking cows of the Israeli Holstein breed each produce an average of 12,083 kilos of milk per year.




In Israel, you know Shavuot is coming when you pick up your newspaper and recipe booklets drop out. About three weeks prior to the actual date, Israeli newspapers come replete with brand-sponsored recipe booklets and pamphlets promising the “easiest cheesecake” and “fastest blintzes” to wow your guests. Social media is also awash with friends and friends of friends announcing, posting and sharing their famed recipes for dairy pastries and foods.



Get your water guns and buckets … Shavuot is all about water fights, presumably because the Torah is often likened to water. In many Israeli cities, children gather for impromptu water-gun and water-balloon wars in the streets, public squares and parks. Another way to celebrate is taking a water hike along Israel’s rivers. Shavuot is “the” holiday for the farming communities of Israel to show off their agricultural prowess. The symbols of the holiday are the seven species with which the Land of Israel is blessed – wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. Tradition holds that in ancient times, Shavuot was the day to bring offerings to the Holy Temple from the first fruits of the harvest and the first animals born to the flocks. Today, farmers from different parts of the country take turns bringing their fruit and vegetable samples to Jerusalem – to the president. The annual pilgrimage to the presidential residence in the capital is a highlight in the farming community. Moshav and kibbutz communities also hold elaborate agricultural festivals often open to the public during Shavuot.


Staying awake all night is not just for the teenagers. For centuries, it has been customary to study through the night as payback for the Israelites’ error in oversleeping on the morning they were supposed to receive the Torah. Tikkun Leil Shavuot, or the “Repair of Shavuot Night,” draws people from all denominations to synagogues, community centers, theaters and schools for all-night group learning sessions. Most people come decked out in white (the color of purity). And while top rabbis and Torah scholars may have started the custom, today you can find speakers from all walks of life – singers, actors, professors, writers, spiritual guides, entrepreneurs – presenting lectures on this night.



Around the twelfth century a tradition kicked off in Germany of bringing a child to school for the first time on Shavout, since the Torah was given then. Whether it is because of this custom or just because Israelis love to celebrate festivals, the days around Shavuot offer a dazzling array of childoriented events, happenings and fairs. Article courtesy ISRAEL21c. ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE | MAY/JUNE 2021 61


Right: Post 210 Commander Michael Chambers together with Past Post Commander Mel Brody representing Jewish War Veterans at city-wide Memorial Day Commemoration at the AZ National Memorial Cemetery.

Celebrating JWV’s 125th Anniversary By Mala Blomquist


ews have always served their country in the military since the earliest colonial days. Throughout history, there has been a common misconception that Jews don’t serve and don’t support the military. This antisemitic rhetoric motivated 63 Jewish Civil War veterans to form the Hebrew Union Veterans Association in New York City on March 15, 1896 – 125 years ago. That organization is now known as the Jewish War Veterans of the USA ( JWV) and has between 350-400 posts across the United States. “The JWV is the oldest continuous veteran’s organization in the country,” says Rochel Hayman, NEC at Jewish War Veterans Department of the Southwest. Rochel spent six years in the U.S. Air Force as a broadcast specialist and served in Japan and Greece. She was elected the first female commander of Post 210 in Scottsdale, where she served in that position from April 2017 until May 2019. Under her current position, Rochel is the National Executive Committee representative for the department, which means that she represents and votes on behalf of the Department of the Southwest during leadership meetings of the national organization. These meetings usually occurred in Washington, D.C., before the pandemic. While in D.C., Rochel would take the opportunity to set up meetings with representatives from Arizona to lobby for legislation that is important to veterans. JWV


also holds fundraisers a few times throughout the year to support veterans, both Jewish and non-Jewish. “We don't have any expenses, so the money that we raise gets given out to other veterans organizations here in town,” says Rochel. “We’ve also donated as a post to the kosher food bank, Ezras Cholim. Ezras Cholim also serves veterans, and someone doesn't have to be Jewish to go there.” As far as supporting those serving active duty, Rochel says that the challenge is privacy; they can’t just get a list from the military as far as who self-identifies as Jewish. “We have to reach out in other ways,” she says. “We're also looking at developing a new committee in JWV for military members, so that they can tell us what support they need.” Another challenge that JWV faces is similar to congregations – engaging and encouraging younger members to join the organization. “People of this generation are not big joiners, so we’re working on a strategic plan for the next five to 10 years. That means there's an evolvement that needs to take place, and we're reaching out to younger veterans,” says Rochel. “We have younger veterans and people who are Jewish that have been in the United States military here in Arizona that either have never heard of JWV or just aren’t

veterans,” she says. “We're having representatives of the committee in each department and some posts throughout the country so that we can start interconnecting because that's the other thing this generation has – the networking and interconnectivity – which the previous generations didn't have.” Rochel is passionate about this organization, and she looks forward to helping it build moving forward. She is also excited to share the honor that the JWV will be participating in this November. Every year, on Veterans Day, a different veterans organization is responsible for organizing the activities that occur at Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. For 2021, JWV will be in charge of these commemorations. “JWV is going to be the host of the activities,” says Rochel. “This year is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’s 100th anniversary, so we're sharing it with them, so to speak.” Just remember, the Jewish War Veterans were already celebrating their 25th anniversary when the iconic memorial was being built.

interested in getting involved.” She also notes that younger members like action; they want to do things, and that’s difficult in a multigenerational organization where you are trying to make everybody happy. Another way they are trying to engage younger veterans is through the JWV’s Gulf War Committee, in which Rochel is a chair for the committee. She was in Saudi Arabia when the Gulf War broke out. “We're putting together a virtual community of Jewish

Left: Jewish War Veterans participated in the Phoenix Veterans Parade, together with some members of the Post 210 chartered Cub Scout Pack 210, the first Shomer Shabbat/Kosher Family pack (boys and girls) in the Nation. Rochel is at the far right.

For more information on the Jewish War Veterans, contact Rochel at

Above: Rochel Hayman and daughter Estherita Margolin met with Congressman Greg Stanton in his office in Washington, D.C. in January 2020. ARIZONA JEWISH LIFE | MAY/JUNE 2021 63

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