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the bserver inside: Jewish

Federation annual meeting set for June 18; incoming President Carol Hyatt will focus on communication and involvement

Master schmoozer Joel Abramson headed to Brandeis


Steve Hirsch offers final thoughts From the Campaign Trail


Sherith Israel hires assistant rabbi


Photo collage features JFS award for the Mays, Akiva grads and more



Regular features The Rabbis’ Corner Lifecycles Around the town

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A Publication of VOL.79 NO. 6 June 2014 3 Sivan 2 Tammuz 5774


ot long after moving to Nashville nine years ago from the suburbs of the nation’s capital, Carol Hyatt became a member of the grants committee of the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. She felt it was a good opportunity to learn more not only about how the Federation distributes funds but also about the Jewish community in general. “I never envisioned it would come to this,” said Hyatt, who will be become the Federation’s next president at its annual meeting on Wednesday, June 18. Federation Executive Director Mark S. Freedman said Hyatt is uniquely qualified to take over as president after having served on the committee that initiated Best Jewish Nashville, the Federation’s new model for planning and priority-setting that has enhanced cooperation among local Jewish agencies and institutions and resulted in a large number of new initiatives to address the community’s needs. Hyatt will be among nine new officers and board members installed at the annual meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Gordon Jewish Community Center. It will be followed by a dessert reception.All members of the Nashville Jewish community are invited. Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP by June 16 to Barbara Schwarcz at or (615) 354-1630. In addition to the election and installation of the new board, the agenda for the meeting includes honoring outgoing President Andy May and two other members of the community. Raymond Zimmerman will receive the President’s Award, which was established in 2012 to recognize individuals for exceptional service to the Nashville Jewish community, Israel and Jews around the globe. (The previous recipients were Sandy Averbuch and Bob Eisenstein.) Board member Mindy Hirt will receive the Young Leadership Award. Hyatt and her husband, Larry, chief financial officer of Cracker Barrel, moved to Nashville in 2005 from Beltsville, MD, where they had helped start a new synagogue. She has

been deeply involved in Best J e w i s h Nashville, serving on and chairing the committee overseeing implementation of the new planCarol Hyatt ning and grant process over the past three years. “It has been so rewarding to be

part of the effort to re-envision and improve what we do,” she said. “And I am very excited about being in a position to move it forward over the next two years.” In addition to refining Best Jewish Nashville, Hyatt has two other related goals during her tenure as president. The first is to improve communication with the Jewish community. “When people learn about what the Continued on page 4 Calling


All Get Connected alumni and their parents All members of NowGen Nashville Past participants of Israel Experience programs Though you may not know it, the cost of your program was partially underwritten by funds established through the generosity of Raymond Zimmerman and his family with the Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennesse.* So please join us for our annual meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 18 at the Gordon Jewish Community Center to say


THE FEDERATION’S 2014 PRESIDENT’S AWARD RECIPIENT To RSVP, contact Barbara Schwarcz at or call her at 615-354-1630. *The Raymond and Etta Zimmerman Fund for Special Projects and the Mary and Harry Zimmerman Family Youth Exchange Endowment Fund for Israel.

Nashville celebrates Yom Ha’atzmaut with food, music and torch-lighting ceremony


t was 29 years ago that Risha Arkovitz read an article in The Jewish Observer about a new program started by an Israel army general that was bringing volunteers from around the world to the Jewish state to do nonmilitary work at Israel Defense Forces installations. “It sounded interesting and a bit intriguing,” said Arkovitz. So she and her husband signed up. Since then she’s been back 23 more times as a participant in the Volunteers for Israel program, known as Sar-El in Israel. She’s installed headphones in helmets, packed medical supplies, assembled antennas and cleaned warehouses. But perhaps her most interesting job has been repairing tank engines. Continued on page 3

Risha Arkovitz lights one of the torches at the May 6 Yom Ha’atzmaut ceremony. Assisting her is Harriet Schiftan, planning director for the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. PHOTOS BY JACK L. KOCH JR.


Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God Featuring

Author Matthew Levitt Author Matthew Levitt is a senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intellegence

Monday, June 16 7:00 p.m. Gordon Jewish Community Center 801 Percy Warner Boulevard Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing. Free of charge Q & A from audience is encouraged. Dessert reception following the program.

Please RSVP to Abbie Wolf, Community Relations Director, at


May 2014 The Observer

After helping build NowGen Nashville, Joel Abramson leaving to study at Brandeis By CHARLES BERNSEN


hose who know Joel Abramson may find this hard to believe: There was a time not that long ago when he didn’t think much about being Jewish. Then he went on a Taglit-Birthright trip to Israel and returned to Kent State University “all jazzed up about being Jewish.” It wasn’t long before he became president of the Kent State Hillel chapter and “made it my job to meet every Jew on campus.” Abramson has been schmoozing Jews ever since and Nashville has been the primary beneficiary. As the community engagement associate for the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, he has built NowGen Nashville into a vibrant outreach program that provides a variety of social, philanthropic, service and networking opportunities for hundreds young Jewish professionals. More important, NowGen has become what Federation Executive Director Mark S. Freedman described as “a pipeline of young adults who are certain to be our finest volunteers and leaders for many years to come.” Abramson, 27, is leaving Nashville this month to enroll at Brandeis

University, where he plans to earn a masters degree in Jewish professional leadership and an MBA in non-profit management. He isn’t sure what will come afterwards – the federation system is certainly a possibility. But one thing is for certain: Wherever he winds up, he’ll be schmoozing and trying to create connections among Jews. “I’m really into relationship building,” Abramson said in what can only be described as a gross understatement. This is the guy who, within 20 minutes of arriving at annual Jewish Family Service Chesed Dinner last month, was concerned that he had made the rounds of only half the tables. In a typical day, he might meet with a newcomer to Nashville at Starbucks, dash to a student meeting at the Vanderbilt Hillel, drive across town to attend a young adult gathering at one of Nashville’s synagogues, return to the office to update his Facebook and Twitter pages, meet with a prospective sponsor for an upcoming event and cap off his day at a NowGen happy-hour mixer. The effort has paid off. When Abramson moved to Nashville in 2011 to shepherd the fledgling outreach program for young adults, it consisted of occasional trivia nights and Shabbat dinners attended by a few dozen people. Rebranded as NowGen, the program

Joel Abramson was part of the Nashville Federation’s CommUNITY Mission to Israel in 2013.

now sponsors more than 150 events ranging from happy-hour gatherings and the still-popular trivia night to big annual events that draw hundreds: the Rosh Bash celebration of the Jewish New Year, the monthlong Mitzvah Madness service project and the Purim Masquerade Ball, which this year raised about $17,000 for the federation’s annual campaign. NowGen also sponsors events like a recent retreat aimed fostering young adult involvement in the Jewish community and developing its next generation of leaders. “In the last three years, Joel has not just created a community of Jewish 20-30

year olds with philanthropic, networking, and social programs but has created a ‘home away from home’ for many young adults without family in Nashville,” said Tara Lerner, co-chair of the NowGen Leadership Board. “We are sad to be losing Joel; however, we hope to keep the momentum he created going.” Said Freedman, “There’s an old saying that luck is the residue of design. Well, four years ago our Jewish community designed a plan to increase outreach to adults between the ages of 25 and 40ish. Luckily for us, Joel Abramson was the individual who came to Nashville to spearhead that outreach effort.” Abramson’s work has resulted in another kind of connection that he likes to talk about: the romantic kind. He counts a half dozen or so couples who have met through NowGen activities. (He and his wife, Felicia, were already engaged when they moved to Nashville, so they don’t officially count.) Among them are Claire and Jason Coleman, whose relationship began at the Greenhouse Bar during the very first happy-hour mixer organized by Abramson. They were married in May. “I guess we’re his earliest success story,” said Claire Coleman. Given Abramson’s prolific capacity for schmoozing and creating Jewish connections, there will likely be many more. c

Nashville celebrates Yom Ha’atzmaut with food, music and torch-lighting ceremony Continued from page 1 “I’ve been 24 times and 11 of those were at a tank repair base called Julius,” she said. “I worked for the same man. He was a talented mechanic and showed me what I needed to do. A few times he was called to another base to help with a particular problem and I accompanied him.” Arkovitz was among a group of Nashville residents honored at the May 6 celebration at the Gordon Jewish Community Center marking the 66th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. About 200 people attended the annual celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. The celebrants ate Israeli food, danced to the music of the popular Israeli band Capa-im and witnessed a moving torch-lighting ceremony in which Arkovitz and others were recognized for helping strengthen the community’s ties to Israel. This was the second year the torchlighting ceremony has been incorporated into the Nashville’s Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration. It was the idea of Hadar Moskovitz, who is about to finish her two-year stint as the Israeli shlicha (emissary) with the Nashville Federation. The ceremony is modeled after the one that takes place in Israel every Yom Ha’atzmaut when citizens who have contributed to Israeli society are given the honor of lighting 12 torches on Mount Hertzl symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel. Moskovitz planned the event and helped select the honorees. But she got a surprise when Federation Executive Director Mark S. Freedman, who was supposed to light the 12th candle in honor of his 75th trip to Israel last year, instead gave the honor to Moskovitz, describing her as “an Israeli light that has

Those celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut take part in a traditional Israeli circle dance to the lively music of Capa’im. About 200 people attended the annual celebration of the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. PHOTOS BY JACK L. KOCH JR

brightened our community for two years.” Others honored in the torch-lighting ceremony were:  Sam Perlen, who was elected this year as the 90th AZA International Grand Aleph Gadol. He was in Israel for the March of the Living, so his parents, Joe and Maxine Perlen, stood in for him.  Evelyn and Marvin Koch for their Israel advocacy work.  Carol Hyatt, the incoming president of the Nashville Federation and a member of last fall’s community mission to Israel.  Mark and Robin Cohen, who led a trip to Israel with students from his course “Doing Business in Israel” at the Vanderbilt Owen School of Management.  Leslie Klein for her work as president of the local chapter of Hadassah.  Rabbi Laurie Rice, who heads the local board of rabbis this year.  Rabbi Joshua Barton and Lawrence Tobin, who lead Vanderbilt Hillel’s Taglit-Birthright trips to Israel.

 Fred Zimmerman, a past president of the Nashville Federation who is serving on the boards of both the Jewish Agency for Israel and Jewish Federations of North America.  Gal Moravsky and Sara Shurek Satinsky, whose families are participating in a Partnership2Gether project with families in the Hadera-Eiron region of Israel. The families read The Same Moon and exchange letters, photos and emails to create a scrapbook demonstrating that, despite our differences, we live under the same

moon.  Lorna Graff, who was representing the nine Nashville artists participating in the “Sounds of Many Waters” project, an exhibition featuring visual artists from Hadera-Eiron and communities in Partnership2Gether’s Southeast Consortium. Arkovitz said she was “deeply honored” to be part of the torch-lighting ceremony. Sar-El brings thousands of volunteers to Israel every year for one to three weeks, longer if a participant desires. Though the program provides housing and meals, the volunteers foot many of the expenses themselves, including travel to and from Israel. By doing work that would normally be assigned to military personnel, the volunteers help fill work force shortages when soldiers are called to active duty and provide reservists more time with their families and civilian life. “Whatever small service I might have given to Israel does not compare to what I received in return,” Arkovitz said. “Over the years, I have met some incredible people from all over the world on my various volunteer trips whom I would never have had the pleasure of meeting if not for Sar-El. Many of them are now my dearest friends.” c

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The Observer May 2014


From the Campaign Trail Happy trails to you! By STEVE HIRSCH Campaign Chair


uring the past two years, I have had the privilege of serving the Jewish community as the volunteer chairman of the Nashville Federation’s annual campaign. And for the last 12 months, I have used this column to communicate on a monthly basis with my constituents in the Jewish community. Following the Federation’s annual meeting on June 18, I will pass the baton to Steve Hirsch a very able new campaign chair, Ted Mayden. Following many years of service with the Federation, including a two year stint as the board chairman, Ted’s passion for service has brought him back to the position of campaign chair. After working on the board with Ted and having him serve as a team captain during the last two campaigns, I can tell you that we couldn’t ask for a more dedicated person to head the 2015 annual campaign. These past two years have given me the opportunity to meet and get to know many of you in the community; without a doubt, this is the greatest benefit of the job. I am grateful to those of you who have supported the Federation and helped me over the past two years by meeting with me, serving on the camc





Publisher Mark S. Freedman Editor Charles Bernsen Advertising Manager Carrie Mills Layout and Production Tim Gregory Editorial Board Frank Boehm (chair), Barbara Dab, Greg Goldberg, Scott Rosenberg, Liz Foster Telephone 615/356-3242 Fax 615/352-0056 E-mail ‘The Jewish Observer’ (ISSN 8750-5290) is published monthly for $25 per year by the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, 801 Percy Warner Blvd., Nashville, TN 37205-4009. Periodicals postage paid at Nashville, TN. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE JEWISH OBSERVER, 801 Percy Warner Blvd., Nashville, TN 37205 This newspaper is made possible by funds raised in the Jewish Federation Annual Campaign. The Jewish Observer is a member of the American Jewish Press Association and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. While The Jewish Observer makes every possibly effort to accept only reputable advertisers of the highest quality, we cannot guarantee the Kasruth of their products. The Jewish Observer J



Founded in 1934 by C Q U E S B A



paign cabinet, participating in Tzedakah Tzunday, or simply through your generosity in contributing to the campaign. We are fortunate to have a talented professional Federation staff in Nashville who work tirelessly on behalf of our community all year. In particular I need to acknowledge Naomi Limor Sedek, our campaign director, who not only knows every Jewish person in Nashville but also knows who they are related to, where they are affiliated, where they went to school and whatever else you might want to know. Naomi lives the mission of the Federation 24/7/365, and I want to recognize what she means to the community. Special thanks as well to Susan Pankowsky, who has done so much to help me with scheduling, correspondence and a dozen other jobs related to the campaign. As we wrap up the 2014 campaign and begin planning for 2015, I will reach out to you with one final appeal. If for some reason, we have not been able

connect with you, either through our campaign ambassadors, functions such as the Bonim dinner, Tzedakah Tzunday or a direct mail communication, please take a moment this week to renew your personal commitment to the Jewish Federation. You can contact us at 365-3242 or contribute directly through our website, Still not sure about why the annual campaign remains as relevant and important as ever? This past year, 90% of the dollars collected in the campaign helped fund: • 77 distinct local programs in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, plus social services in Israel and around the world. • Nashville’s annual commitment to the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) through the Jewish Federations of North America, the collective that enables a Jewish community the size of Nashville to have a big impact.

• Support for Jews in need all around the world through the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). This year’s crisis in the Ukraine is the most recent example of the need to have an organization that can respond immediately with help. Already in the Ukraine, aliyah requests have increased 142% over last year and JDC is committed to help these families immigrate to Israel. If you have never been a part of the annual campaign, I urge you to not only make a gift this year but also get involved as a volunteer. A small donation of your time can have a substantial impact on your community and on the world. So I say to all, “Happy Trails to you, until we meet again.” For those of you who are old enough, you will recognize this song from the Roy Rogers show, although I confess that I was not riding a horse when I wrote this. I look forward to seeing you all at the next Federation event. c

Federation annual meeting set for June 18 Continued from page 1 Federation does, they are invariably impressed and want to help,” she said. Her second is to boost involvement and participation. To that end Hyatt plans to formalize what she calls an “ambassador program” in which those who are active in the Federation reach out to others in the community who may not be. The idea is to encourage engagement through the donation of time and effort as well as money, she said. Andy May will present the President’s Award to Zimmerman, whom he described as one of the Nashville Jewish community’s most important leaders and benefactors. In recent years, Zimmerman has underwritten programs aimed at engaging youth and young adults like NowGen Nashville, Get Connected

Editorial Submissions Policy and Deadlines The Jewish Observer welcomes the submission of information, news items, feature stories and photos about events relevant to the Jewish community of Greater Nashville. We prefer e-mailed submissions, which should be sent as Word documents to Editor Charles Bernsen at Photos must be high resolution (at least 300 dpi) and should be attached as jpegs to the e-mail with the related news item or story. For material that cannot be emailed, submissions should be sent to Charles Bernsen, The Jewish Observer, 801 Percy Warner Blvd., Suite 102, Nashville TN 37205. Photos and copy sent by regular mail will not be returned unless prior arrangement is made. Publication is at the discretion of The Observer, which reserves the right to edit submissions. To ensure publication, submissions must arrive by the 15th of the month prior to the intended month of publication. For advertising deadlines, contact Carrie Mills, advertising manager, at 615-354-1699, or by email at

May 2014 The Observer

and immersive Israel experiences. He was also instrumental in establishing the Gesher Fund to provide financial aid and counseling for Nashville area Jews in the wake of the 2008 economic downtown. Andy May “We’re lucky he’s been here,” said May. “For many years he has been incredibly generous with this time, his leadership and his economic resources both locally and globally – far beyond what we think of as being actively engaged. Mindy Hirt Even if they’ve never met him, almost everyone in the community has been touched in some way by Raymond Zimmerman’s efforts in behalf of our community.” In response, Zim-merman noted that he and his wife, Etta, are continuing a tradition of commitment to the Jewish community begun by his parents, Mary and Harry Zimmerman. “It’s really an honor for my family, those who came before and those who have come after,” he said. His son, Fred Zimmerman, a member of the Federation board, also serves on the boards of the Jewish Agency for Israel, the United Israel Appeal and the Jewish Federations of North America. Hirt, who has been a member of the Federation board for six years, will receive the Young Leadership Award. “She has taken on increasingly significant roles, particularly as a member of the grants committee, where she has been involved in the development of Best Jewish Nashville,” said Freedman. About May Freedman said, “It has been an honor and a pleasure working with Andy. We’ve had two very successful campaigns and one of the main reasons is Andy’s cool and calm perspective.” Asked to comment on the approaching end of his tenure, May planted his tongue firmly in his cheek

and bemoaned the fact that the bylaws prohibit him from another two-year term. In a more serious vein, he said, “If you have a campaign chairman as energetic as Steve Hirsch and an executive director as good as Mark Freedman, then being president of the Federation is a walk in the park.” c

Nominees for the 2014-2015 Board of Directors Officers Carol Hyatt, President Lisa Perlen, Vice President Irwin Venick, Secretary Steven Hirsch, Treasurer Board Members (3-year term) Lori Fishel Aron Karabel David Levy Janet Weismark Board Member (1-year term) Amy Smith Continuing Elected Board Members Dianne Berry Didi Biesman Daniel Biller Michael Doochin James Mackler David Schwartz Michael Simon Immediate Past President Andy May Nashville Board of Rabbis Representative Rabbi Yitzchok Tiechtel

Americans for Peace and Tolerance Invites the Nashville Jewish Community to Join us for A Community Discussion Regarding the American Jewish Community and Israel following the Second Showing of This Important Film. “In keeping with our tradition, we should work through our differences with respect, vibrant discussion, and open dialogue.”Jeremy Ben Ami-President of J Street The J Street Challenge examines the rise of a well-funded activist organization with a powerful marketing effort and an idealistic message that appeals to many who are frustrated by the Middle East Conflict. The film presents commentary and analyses from a wide political spectrum. The film features: Harvard Professors Alan Dershowitz & Ruth Wisse Rabbi Daniel Gordis Caroline Glick of the The Jerusalem Post Bret Stephens Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Wall Street Journal

Tuesday June 24, 2014 at 7:00PM Gordon JCC 801 Percy Warner Blvd., Nashville TN

Seating is limited. Please register

communitydiscussion. This event is free.

COMMUNITY DISCUSSION following the film with Ilya Feoktistov, Producer and co-writer of the


We would like to thank The Gordon Jewish Community Center for providing us with the use of its facilities on a rental basis for this program. The views and opinions expressed by the programs’ sponsors and the program’s content do not necessarily represent the views of the Gordon Jewish Community Center nor is it responsible for the content of this program

The Observer May 2014


Sherith Israel hires “dynamic, creative, passionate” assistant rabbi, Aaron Finkelstein By MARVIN KOCH


ongregation Sherith Israel is happily anticipating the arrival this summer of an assistant rabbi, Aaron Finkelstein. Joining Rabbi Saul Strosberg and Cantor George Lieberman on the clergy staff, Rabbi Finkelstein will assist with life cycle events, sermons, Sunday school, teen programs, and Shabbat programming for young families and couples. He will also assume some teaching duties at Akiva School. Following their marriage over the Memorial Day weekend, Rabbi Finkelstein and his wife Julie will be in Nashville in June to look for a home. The couple will move to Nashville later in the summer. Finkelstein, a native of Berkeley, CA, was educated in St. Louis and New York City. In addition to serving as a rabbinic intern at two congregations, he started his own synagogue in Brooklyn, where he taught weekly Talmud classes, delivered weekly sermons, mentored volunteers, oversaw community outreach and provided pastoral support for congregants. He also has extensive experience working with children and young adults in a variety of settings and age groups. “It feels like we are getting a new community partner – a dynamic, cre-

ative, and passionate rabbi who will put Sherith Israel in its best light, inspiring more people, within and out of the Shul to learn and to connect and to celebrate,” said Rabbi Strosberg. “Aaron and Julie bring with them such a love of community and such a warm energy. They will be a great addition not only to the Shul but to the Akiva community and the greater Nashville community.” Following a recent Skype interview with Rabbi Finkelstein, Sherith Israel Board President Evelyn Koch said, “We were very impressed. He is outgoing, energetic and full of programming ideas – just the kind of person we need to provide more family programming for our shul.” Asked about his impressions of Nashville, Rabbi Finkelstein said, “I was touched by how warmly the members of the Sherith Israel community treat each other and interact with each other. This kind of close connection was immediately apparent at the shul and excited me from the moment I was greeted at the door. “I'm really looking forward to immersing myself in the many parts of life at Sherith Israel and in Nashville: teaching in the Sunday school and during the week at Akiva, studying with community members, celebrating holidays and lifecycle moments, and sharing many Shabbat meals together.” Julie said, “I loved seeing how the Sherith Israel community eats together

Following their marriage over the Memorial Day weekend, Aaron Finkelstein and his wife Julie will move to Nashville this summer when he will become assistant rabbi at Congregation Sherith Israel.

every Shabbos for lunch. That spoke volumes to me. It shows how warm and close-knit the shul is, and it also allows for everyone to be welcomed and accounted for, week after week. I'm looking forward to getting to know everybody. My first goal is to learn everyone’s names!” Julie said she will be continuing her work as a script writer for YiddishPOP, an interactive website that uses short, animated movies to teach Yiddish. “The office is based in New York, but I’ll be working remotely from Nashville,” she said.

Rabbi Finkelstein has a B.A. in political science and Jewish and Islamic Near Eastern Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, where he graduated magna cum laude. He and was ordained in 2011 at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in Riverdale, NY. He was director of community programming at Hannah Senesh Community Day School in Brooklyn, served as rabbinic intern and educator at Hunter College Hillel in New York City, worked as Judaic coordinator/rabbinic fellow for March of the Living in Poland and Israel, taught in a camp in Szarvas, Hungary, served as family and adult educator at Congregation Shearith Israel in New York, and was senior division head at Camp Ramah in Ojai, CA. Rabbi Finkelstein also was part of the American Jewish World Service rabbinical delegation to Ghana and cofounder and director of Communications for Uri L’Tzedek, the Orthodox social justice movement. He also has been scholar in residence in synagogues in Berkeley, CA and New Orleans and at the Rutgers Hillel and the University of Maryland Hillel. His early rabbinic experiences include internships in synagogues in New York and Maryland and a 400-hour rotation in pastoral counseling at Roosevelt Hospital in New York. c

Ralph Levy Jr. elected president of The Temple


alph Z. Levy Jr. was elected president of The Temple-Congregation Ohabai Sholom at its 163rd annual meeting last month. Other newly elected officers are Vice President and Treasurer Martin Sir and Secretary Joyce Bauman Friedman. Founded in 1851, The Temple is Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As its 58th president, Levy will lead the 750-family member congregation for the next two years. He previously served as president of The Temple Brotherhood from 1982-1983 and as a board member from 1982-1987 and 2002-2008. Since 2008 he has served as board secretary, treasurer and vice president. Levy said he plans to focus on integration, accountability and education during his tenure as president. “The continuation of The Temple's role as an important and influential institution in the Jewish heritage in Nashville depends on ensuring that current and future generations of congregants are versed in The Temple’s rich local history and the centuries-old traditions of Judaism,” he said. Among other efforts, he plans to work with The Temple clergy and its

Ralph Z. Levy Jr.

adult education committee to expand its class offerings. Levy is an attorney of counsel in the Nashville office of Dickinson Wright, PLLC, where he focuses his practice on corporate, healthcare enterprises and estate planning law. Sir is an attorney in the law offices of Martin Sir & Associates. Friedman is an affiliate real estate broker and sales associate specializing in the sale of new home construction for Fox Ridge Homes & Ryan Homes. c

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May 2014 The Observer

Nashville congregations respond to urgent appeal from Crimean synagogue


he urgent appeal came in early March soon after disturbing photographs appeared in the press during the early days of the Ukrainian crisis. Someone had painted antiSemitic graffiti and swastikas on the door and façade of Ner Tamid, a Reform synagogue in the Crimean city of Simferopol. The congregation turned to the World Union of Progressive Judaism seeking emergency funds to remove the graffiti, install security cameras and pay for a security guard during services. To raise the funds, the World Union turned to several of its funding agencies, including the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. The Nashville Federation in turn relayed the appeal to the city’s two

Reform congregations, The Temple and Congregation Micah. The two congregations each donated $400 to cover the cost of installing the security cameras. Other donors provided funds to remove the graffiti, pay for a security guard and make some repairs to the synagogue. Recently, the two congregations received this email from Anatoly Gendin, the chairman of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Crimea: “Dear Friends! Thank you so much for your help that is so important for us now. With your support we can provide necessary safety measures for the synagogue, update the alarm systems pay the guards that ensure security during the religious events, reinforce the roof covering and provide grocery packages for the poorest members of the community.” c

This graffiti has been removed and security improved at Ner Tamid Synagogue in Simferopol, Crimea thanks in part to $800 donated by Congregation Micah and The Temple.

Noam Shalit recounts events surrounding Gilad’s capture and release for Nashville audience


bout 90 people were on hand at the Gordon Jewish Community Center on Tuesday, May 13 to hear Noam Shalit’s riveting personal account of the events surrounding the kidnapping of his son, Gilad, by Hamas militants. Shalit described every aspect of the incident – from the terrible moment in 2006 when he was informed of his son’s abduction, though the five-year international campaign he mounted to win Gilad’s freedom, to the moment he was able to hug his son after his release in 2011. When asked to describe how he felt

at the moment he was told his son was free, Shalit was so overcome with emotion that he lapsed into Hebrew. At that point, Nashville resident Uzi Yemin, a native Israeli, translated Shalit’s words for members of the audience, several of whom were moved to tears. Shalit also addressed the controversy surrounding his son’s release, acknowledging the legitimate concern of many Israeli’s that it required negotiating with a terrorist organization and the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, many with blood on their hands. But he also said that the vast majority of Israelis not only favored the deal but also understood the motivation of father to save his son.

Shalit’s appearance was part of a four-week speaking tour of the United States and Canada aimed at telling his story and thanking those who supported the campaign to win Gilad’s release. It

was funded through a New Initiatives grant of the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee and sponsored by the Nashville Federation’s community relations committee. c

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The Observer May 2014


Bartons to receive Biz Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award for bringing hospice care to Nashville


he Nashville Business Journal has named Dr. David and Mrs. Lynn Barton the recipients of its 2014 Health Care Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award for their work in bringing hospice care to the Nashville area almost 40 years ago. The award will be presented at a luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 6 at the Loew’s Vanderbilt

Hotel. For more information or to register to attend called (615) 846-4274 or email The Bartons co-founded Alive Hospice with the late Dr. John M. Flexner in 1975 during the early days of the U.S. hospice movement. At the time there was no specialized care for the dying and their families. David Barton served as the hospice board’s first president and Lynn Barton as its second.

David Barton is a retired psychiatrist who remains a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine and an adjunct professor at Meharry Medical College. Lynn Barton is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in divorce counseling and mediation. She is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine. c

David and Lynn Barton in the living room of their home, where the idea for Alive Hospice was born almost 40 years ago.

Shooting for the moon: Israeli team hopes to win Google’s $20 million Lunar XPrize By BEN SALES JTA


few Israeli Scientists is hoping to take one small step that will be a giant leap for the State of Israel. Members of a 20-person team at a Tel Aviv University are building a spacecraft they hope will make Israel only the fourth country — after the United States, Russia and China — to touch down on the moon. The project, known as SpaceIL, looks like a long shot. The three-legged hexagonal craft appears too puny for interstellar travel, measuring just 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Of the initiative’s three founders, only one holds an academic degree beyond a bachelor’s. And SpaceIL is competing against 17 other teams to win the $20 million Google Lunar XPrize by being the first private spacecraft to land on the moon. The team hopes to land its craft by the end of next year. Despite the odds, however, the founders exude the confidence of Nobel Prize-winning scientists — and that’s not all that makes the project Israeli. From its origins to its endgame, SpaceIL is a quintessential story of Israel’s upstart high-tech sector. Its founders came together with little preparation and no money. They overcame a maze of Israeli bureaucracy to qualify for the contest, attracting funding through personal connections to


By Yosef Avi Yair and caption: SpaceIL founders (from left) Yariv Bash, Yonatan Winetraub and Kfir Damari with Israeli President Shimon Peres in 2011.

preeminent scientists. And they say they will win the competition not by being the biggest or richest team, but by redefining how to send a spacecraft to the moon. “Only superpowers have managed to land on the moon,” co-founder Yariv Bash said. “What China did as a nation of 1.3 billion people, SpaceIL is doing as a nonprofit. It puts things in perspective.” Launched by Google in 2007, the Lunar XPrize has straightforward rules: The first team to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon, move it 500 meters across the moon’s surface and transmit high-definition photos and video back to Earth wins $20 million. The mission must be complete by the

May 2014 The Observer

end of 2015. Thirty-three teams registered for the competition and nearly all of the remaining 18 contenders plan to launch tank-like rovers to roll across the moon’s surface, which Bash says is more expensive and will consume more fuel than the the craft being designed by SpaceIL, which expects to spend about $36 million on its mission. SpaceIL’s craft is the size of a dishwasher and weighs just 300 pounds, two-thirds of which is fuel. Rather than drive across the moon, it will take off again after landing and jump 500 meters. Its navigation system will double as a camera and its steering thrusters will guide its landing. “Instead of taking a bulky radar system, we’re taking cameras with us, so the best thing is to reuse those cameras,” Bash said. “If I can just write more code for my camera, code doesn’t weigh anything.” Bash hadn’t even considered entering the competition until 2010. He pushed through government bureaucracy to register SpaceIL as a nonprofit and entered the race on Dec. 31, 2010 — the last day of registration. Yonatan Winetraub, another of the project’s co-founders, connected with Israel Space Agency head Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, who gave the group three minutes on stage at a space technology convention in Tel Aviv. It was enough to convince philanthropists at the convention to give SpaceIL its seed money and lure Ben Yisrael to join the group’s board. SpaceIL has since received support

from Rona Ramon, the widow of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who gave $16.4 million. “They’re young people with a lot of vision, with Israeli initiative,” Ben Yisrael said. “If the government sends a craft to space, that’s OK. But when there’s a group of young people that takes on a project that looks like science fiction, to land something on the moon, it’s different. It’s strong.” SpaceIL has avoided the expensive and labor-intensive approach of some of the other teams, but it’s not the only one to go small. An XPrize team housed at Pennsylvania State University also is building a small craft that will jump the 500 meters. Team director Michael Paul said small projects like theirs could complement large government initiatives and broaden the reach of space exploration. “We’ve created a new model that makes space exploration possible through philanthropy,” Paul said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be a dominant piece [of space exploration], but it will be an incredibly important piece in the decades to come. NASA isn’t going away.” SpaceIL hopes to expand the appeal of space exploration by spreading its message through Israel’s classrooms. The team is investing in a large educational program, lecturing about the program in Israeli classrooms and working with Israel’s Education Ministry to devise a science curriculum based around space travel. Along with reaching the moon, the founders hope to imbue Israel’s next generation with excitement for science and technology. “We let them know they’re capable of building their own spacecraft,” said the third co-founder, Kfir Damari. “We want to use the story to show that science and technology is exciting, that you can have a huge impact on the world if you’re a scientist and engineer.” SpaceIL’s team believes it has a good chance of winning. But even if it doesn’t, Damari said landing an Israeli craft on the moon will be reward enough. “It’s the story of three people who decided one day that they’re landing on the moon,” he said. “Today it’s an Israeli project, but it’s [also] three engineers who wanted to land a spacecraft there and it’s happening.” c


The Observer May 2014


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Yiddish Book Center receives nation’s top award for libraries BOSTON (JTA) — The National Yiddish Book Center was named one of 10 recipients of the nation’s highest honor for libraries and museums. First lady Michelle Obama presented the National Medal for Museum and Library Service to the center at a White House ceremony on May 8. “We are thrilled to accept this

award, not only as a recognition of the Yiddish Book Center, but far more important as a tribute to the enduring nature of Yiddish itself,” said Aaron Lansky, founder and president of the Yiddish Book Center, which is located in Amherst, Mass. Lansky, the organization’s president and award-winning author, founded the

center in 1980 to preserve the nearly extinct language and its rich history of Yiddish literature. From humble beginnings, the center has grown to a collection of more than 1 million books. It has digitized and posted the full texts of 12,000 titles on the Internet, and established and strengthened Yiddish holdings at 60 university and research libraries around the world. The center is widely credited with helping to inspire a resurgence in interest in Yiddish and Yiddish culture.

Other winners this year include the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Chicago Public Library and the North Carolina Museum of National Science. The Institute of Museum and Library Services has bestowed the medal for 20 years. The winners were selected based on innovative approaches and exceptional commitment to their community. Among the past 132 recipients is the Simon Wiesenthal Center Library and Archives in Los Angeles. c

First Lady Michelle Obama presents the National Medal for Museum and Library Service to the Yiddish Book Center in a White House ceremony on May 8. Accepting the award are the Yiddish Book Center community member Peter Manseau (left) and Founder and President Aaron Lansky.

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OPINION The Rabbis’ Corner Lemmings Be Gone! By RABBI LAURIE RICE


ecently I sat with one of my congregants – a beautiful, smart and funny 12year-old girl – who told me about the social challenges she is having in school. Likely because she is so beautiful, smart and funny, some of the other “popular” girls in her class do not like her. They have taken to convincing the rest of the girls in her class to stop speaking to her. The Torah tells us that we have an obligation to not stand by while others are threatened. “Lo ta’amod al dam re’echa.” (Lev. 19:16) Interestingly, the word re’echa means neighbor – not Jewish neighbor but rather any neighbor. We have a responsibility to take care of any person we see in trouble. More disheartening than the two “mean girls” instigating this behavior are the actions of the other girls who simply follow suit, like lemmings. It’s a tall order to expect of ourselves and our children to speak out when we see injustice, or to speak truth to power when the majority seems to feel otherwise. Yet is this not our mandate as Jews? To be rodfei shalom, pursuers of peace? I always ask my mother-in-law for suggestions on what book I should be reading. She recently gave me The Help, a novel by Kathryn Stockett about black women serving as maids in Jackson, MS in the 1960s. As I read about segregation, the attitudes of the white women

toward the black women who served them, and the brutality and cruelty that were so socially acceptable, I had to remind myself that I was not reading a story set in the 19th Rabbi Laurie century. This was just Rice 50 years ago I am continually amazed that human beings have the capability to be so cruel, so void of compassion, so un-Godlike. I know this feeling. It’s familiar. I felt this way standing at the Birkenau concentration camp with my dearest childhood friend – who is not Jewish – and who felt as angry and disillusioned as I did. And I ask myself: If I had lived in Jackson in 1962, would I have bucked the system? Would I have been as angry? Would I have known that it was wrong to discriminate based on race, religion, creed, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, color, age or disability? What would you have done? I look to Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish leader and visionary who prayed with his feet by marching alongside Martin Luther King Jr., and I wonder: Would I have been there too, walking beside them? Parashat Shelach describes how 12 spies, one from each tribe, scout the Land of Israel. After 40 days they return. Ten of them report that the land is fruitful, but its cities and countryside are filled with powerful warrior-giants. Two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, disagree.

letters to the editor Defending “The J Street Challenge” To the editor: Harvard University professor Alan Dershowitz calls “The J Street Challenge” documentary “a very, very, important film. We have to get this film on every college campus, to every town hall. Nobody should join J Street without seeing this film.” A column in the May issue of The Observer attacked “The J-Street Challenge” with vague generalities and uninformed smears. It also criticized the decision to allow a screening of the film on April 2 at the Gordon Jewish Community Center. “The J Street Challenge” has received significant favorable reviews in the Jerusalem Post, Commentary Magazine and The Jewish Press. It has been shown to sold-out crowds in Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago and Tel Aviv, with over 40 screenings expected in the 120 days following its release last February. The screening in Nashville was attended by about 400 people. “The J Street Challenge” is about the American Jewish community and its relationship with Israel. The movie examines the rise of a well-fund-


ed, activist organization whose idealistic, pro-Israel, pro-peace message appeals to many who are frustrated by the Middle East conflict and want peace between Arabs and Jews. Since its founding in 2008, J Street has attracted controversy. Critics claim that J Street’s proposed solutions could endanger Israel and that its activism undermines American Jewish support for the Jewish state. “The J Street Challenge” explores the reasons for J Street’s appeal as well as the motivations of its leaders and followers. It includes commentary and analysis from distinguished scholars and writers from a wide political spectrum. For each screening the film producers have asked J Street to join them in a post-screening discussion, but so far they have not. Americans for Peace and Tolerance will be showing “The J Street Challenge” again on Tuesday, June 24 at the GJCC. Once again we ask the leaders of J Street to come to the screening and have an open discussion with the producers of this film. After all, open and civil dialogue about important issues is what Judaism is all about, isn’t it? Daniel K. Bregman Bernard A. Pargh Americans for Peace and Tolerance

May 2014 The Observer

They urge the people to conquer the land. I wonder what courage it must have taken for Caleb and Joshua to stand alone in their convictions. After all, it’s likely that Caleb and Joshua encountered the same landscape as did the other 10 scouts, a land which included the giant Anakites in whose sight the spies felt like “grasshoppers.” (Numbers 13:33) The ten scouts also report that the same land is also inhabited by the Amalakites, enemies of the Israelites. Joshua and Caleb saw what all the scouts saw, but they reacted differently. Why? What about their character allowed them to respond in another way, to go against the popular grain and stand for something bigger and more important? The rabbis tell us that the real sin of the 10 scouts is that they conspired to convince the people the God was leading them not to a land of opportunity and plenty but rather to disaster. The rabbis would have us believe that the true sin of the scouts was their rejection of the Land of Israel and their misleading of the people. Some suggest that the scouts, like Miriam, engage in the sin of slander. Instead of remembering Miriam’s’ punishment for publicly criticizing Moses, the scouts return from their journey and, immediately and publicly, slander the Land of Israel. Perhaps our focus should be less on the sin of the scouts and more on the courage and individuality of Caleb and Joshua, in their ability to take a stand and speak to what they believe, despite

• To the editor, The opinion column about the screening of “The J Street Challenge” at the Gordon Jewish Community Center stated that “the purpose of the movie . . . is to demonize J Street. . . .” A more accurate description is that the film analyzes J Street’s positions regarding the conversation about Israel. The movie likewise attempts to engage the Jewish community in the public dialogue that J Street’s leadership claims it wants. Last month, a majority of members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations engaged in their own dialogue and voted to reject J Street’s membership application. The opinion column also alleged that showing the film somehow violated the policy for civil public discourse adopted in 2012 by the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Surely the civility policy was not intended to suppress factual and well documented information simply because J Street doesn’t like the message. To take issue with the content of the film is not problematic; that would be consistent with a civil dialogue. To object to showing the film only serves to stifle the conversation our community desperately needs to have. The writer also claims, “Those who attack J Street typically do not offer an alternative solution . . . .” Author Caroline Glick, who is featured in the

their minority voice. Like the “mean girls” above, the sin of the 10 scouts grows from their failure of self-love and self-respect. Their insecurity is written in the lines of Torah – they saw themselves “as grasshoppers” in the eyes of the inhabitants of the land. Their lack of self-respect breeds self-contempt and fear of others. Following in the footsteps of Caleb and Joshua may not always be easy. We may stumble. But make no mistake that we are the inheritors of their teaching. We can balance firmly on the shoulders of their courage when faced with standing up for that which we know to be true and just. The following are books are recommended to address young kids on the topic of bullying and standing up for yourself and what you believe in. • Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, Candlewick Press, 1991 (ages 3-8). • Llama Llama and the Bully Goat, written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney, Viking, 2013 (ages 3-8). • Say Something by Peggy Moss, illustrated by Lea Lyon, Tilbury House Publishers, 20014 (ages 5-10). • The Weird Series, By Erin Frankel, illustrated by Paula Heaphy, Free Spirit Press, 2012 (ages 5-10). c Laurie Rice is co-rabbi at Congregation Micah with her husband, Rabbi Flip Rice. The Rabbis’ Corner is a monthly commentary that rotates among Nashville’s congregational rabbis.

film, has recently published The Israel Solution. It is a great read and offers a viewpoint from someone living in Israel that needs to be heard as well. I urge anyone who has not seen the film to attend a second screening at the GJCC on Tuesday, June 24 and judge for themselves. Michael Dobrin National Conference on Jewish Affairs • To the editor, In her half-page propagandizing against the use of free speech to share the facts about J Street, Ruth A. Smith wrote in The Observer last month that she “joined J Street because ... this is the only Jewish-American organization that has set the goal of working for peace with the Palestinians in the two-state solution.” A review of the facts might explain why no other Jewish-American organization makes this claim: 1) In 1977, PLO Executive Committee member Zahir Muhsein admitted to an interviewer that there was no “Palestine” and no difference between the self-called “Palestinians” and the peoples of Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. 2) Hamas, which declares itself an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, proclaims in its charter that all of Israel is s Continued on page 20

Bringing back bakashot: Young Sephardic Jews embrace an old musical tradition By Talia Bloch NEW YORK (JTA) — The group of young Jewish professionals had gathered to participate in the revival of a Sephardic tradition hearkening back to the days of their grandparents and great-grandparents. Arriving at an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, they greeted each other in French and settled in around a dining table laid out with snacks and bottles of arak. They had come to listen to the chanting of bakashot, a class of traditional Sephardic liturgical poems praising and petitioning God. The singing of bakashot, which means “requests,” was once common practice among Sephardic Jews across the Middle East and North Africa, but it has waned in many communities over the past two generations. Sung to classical Sephardic musical modes, bakashot were traditionally performed in synagogues during the pre-dawn hours before Sabbath morning services in the months between Sukkot and Passover. “Ninety percent of the classic tunes sung in the synagogue are based on bakashot,” said Mony Abergel, who grew up in Casablanca, Morocco. “Every Moroccan, even if he does not know the bakashot, knows the tunes.” Abergel was one of the gathering’s four singers, men of Moroccan descent in their mid-20s to early 30s who meet every week to learn and rehearse bakashot. The men sang in unison, breaking out occasionally into solos. One of them, the group’s founder Sacha Ouazana, also played a drum called a darbouka. The music was of a piece with classic Sephardic liturgical chanting, but with a supplicatory yet insistent quality.

Most of those at the gathering were members of the West Side Sephardic Synagogue. The synagogue is the spiritual home for a growing community of young Jews of North African heritage, many of whom grew up in France and have immigrated to New York over the past decade. Ouazana, for example, grew up outside Paris and now serves as the synagogue’s cantor. He began his cantorial training at the age of 5 but discovered bakashot only when he went to study in the Alsatian city of Strasbourg in his late teens. Before starting the bakashot group in 2011, he spent 10 years gathering and studying materials. “My goal was first to learn the bakashot and then to perpetuate this tradition, especially in the U.S.,” Ouazana said. Bakashot draw heavily on Hebrew piyutim — or Jewish liturgical poems — from the Spanish Golden Age. Popular wisdom has it that the bakashot tradition originated then, but many scholars disagree. Ethnomusicologist and musician Samuel Thomas said that the tradition’s real roots lie in the mysticism of 16thand 17th-century Safed in Israel. The works of the kabbalistic poet Israel Najara, who figured prominently during that period, are also heavily represented among the bakashot. “It basically comes from the Lurianic kabbalist tradition that looks to inspire a mystical brotherhood and tries to force the hand of God through mystical practice,” said Thomas, a scholar of Sephardic musical traditions who composes new settings for piyutim for his musical ensemble Asefa. “A major theme of the bakashot is asking for redemption. They are indelibly marked by the tragedy of the Spanish expulsion — and by the

GJCC will exhibit Nashville artists Walker-Zarama, Walls and Ceglarek in June


he Gordon Jewish Community Center’s June art exhibit features the work of Yenny Walker-Zarama, Ken Walls, and Florian J. Ceglarek. The exhibition opens on June 11 with a free public reception for the artists from 7-9 p.m. that will include complimentary food and wine and live music by DJ Spun Counterguy. Walker-Aamara, who was born in Bogata, Colombia and now lives in Nashville, has a special interest in pure color that results in vibrant paintings with strong poetic energy. Ceglarek works primarily in oil on canvas and draws inspiration from seeing patterns and rhythms in nature. His painting in the bistre and alla prima styles have received many honors grace many private collections. Walls spent the last few years working on a series that he calls “Neon.”

This stylized landscape by Nashville artist Yenny Walker-Zarmara will be part of the monthly art exhibition at the GJCC, which also features the work of Nashville artists Florian J. Ceglarek and Ken Walls.

Working in oil, acrylic, and paper mache', Ken recreates and commits to canvas neon signs of yesteryear. For more information, contact the GJCC at 356-7170 or contact Carrie Mills at c

urgency that ‘this has got to be the time’ of redemption.” The tradition spread throughout the Sephardic world with each community developing its own repertoire over the ensuing centuries. Among Syrian Jews, for example, there is a set group Singers (from left) Joachim Nahmani, Sacha Ouazana, Haim Fedida and Abergel chant bakashot, a type of Sephardic religious poetry, at an of 66 bakashot that Mony apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. are recited completely or in part each week. In the when they left homelands in which Moroccan tradition, by contrast, the they had been rooted for centuries bakashot change from Sabbath to were also contributing factors to the Sabbath based on the weekly Torah decline in the practice. portion. The communities with the Today, in the United States, “it’s a most codified traditions, said Thomas, matter of small pockets here and there were in Morocco, Syria, Turkey, Iraq that are bringing it back,” Bouskila and Jerusalem. said. “It’s a slow surge rather than a On this Saturday evening, the major revolution.” performers sang the bakashot that in The renewed interest in bakashot the Moroccan tradition would normalcan in part be attributed to increased ly be sung on the Sabbath preceding religious observance, experts said, but Purim, although that Sabbath had it also takes its impetus from two phebeen several weeks prior. The melodic nomena spilling over from Israel. The mode used for this particular group, first, said Thomas, is a surge in interest said Abergel, was one heavily influin piyutim in both secular and religious enced by classical Andalusian tunes. Israeli society. The second is the Both Ouazana and Abergel tremendous reawakening of Sephardic emphasized the difficulty of learning pride and culture in Israel that began bakashot. in the 1970s and which recent immi“Bakashot are very complex, and if grants to the U.S. have brought with you don’t have someone to teach you, them. they are very difficult to transmit,” “We are recapturing our identity,” Abergel said. Bouskila said. “Bakashot is part of the The difficulty of the music is one package.” c reason the bakashot practice waned. Want to hear some bakashot? “It’s a tradition that really requires Follow this link and scroll devoted and dedicated people,” said down to the video of Rabbi Daniel Bouskila, director of the Moroccan Jews in Toronto Sephardic Educational Center in Los chanting the traditional Angeles. “Like many other aspects of Sephardic music. Sephardic life in the U.S., a lot was lost.” 6/life-religion/bringing-backThe general decline in religious bakashot-young-sephardicobservance during the 20th century jews-embrace-an-old-musicaland the great disruption to Sephardic tradition communities that was brought about

letters to the editor Continued from page 19 acred Muslim turf which nobody has a right to cede to any non-Muslim control. The charter asserts that jihad is the responsibility of every Muslim and notes that peaceful coexistence with nonMuslims in Israel is “inconsistent with the beliefs of the movement.” 3) Mr. Abbas, the leader of the government in the Palestinian Authority, has personally pledged that the PA will never acknowledge Israel's right to exist as a religiously-pluralistic democracy and has just announced a plan to form a “unity government” with Hamas. Smith challenged the characterization of J Street fellow-travelers as “uninformed” or “naive.” If those adjectives

are not correct, dispassionate observers must infer that J Street is a knowing and willing collaborator with those who seek to destroy Israel by any means necessary. David Altschul

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Photo images in May Remembering those who died and survived

Survivors and their family members participate in the candle-lighting ceremony last month at the Gordon Jewish Community Center in remembrance of victims of the Holocaust. About 350 people attended the annual Yom Hashoah commemoration on April 27. In addition to the traditional candle-lighting ceremony, the event included a brief memorial service conducted by local rabbis and a performance of “My Heart in a Suitcase.” The play, produced by the national touring company Artspower, is about the Kindertransport rescue operation that saved 10,000 Jewish children from Nazi occupied territories in the months before World War II.

Flanked by members of the cast of “My Heart in a Suitcase,” Herbert Kornguth (standing, center) spoke after the play about his experience as a Kindertransport child. Now 82 and living in nearby Crossville, TN, Kornguth was only 6 when he said good-bye to his parents at a Berlin train station. He and his sister went to Holland and then England, where they lived with an uncle. Like most of the Kindertransport children, they never saw their

Akiva Class of 2014

Standing up for Israel

The graduation ceremony for the Akiva School class of 2014 was on May 29. Front row (from left): Ari R., Shai R., Ilanit S., Adena R., Matthew K. and Jacob H. Back row (from left): Yahel Y., Sidney B., Jacob F., Rivka S. and Omri Z.

JFS honors Leon and Mimsye May

Several hundred people were on hand May 1 when Jewish Family Service honored Leon and Mimsye May at its annual Chesed Dinner at the Gordon Jewish Community Center. Leon May (front, fifth from the left) is pictured here with his extended family. Mimsye May was ill and unable to attend the event, which included a video about the couple’s devotion to their friends, family and the Jewish community. BY RICK MALKIN


May 2014 The Observer

Israeli Hen Mazzig was the featured speaker at a May 5 event at the Gordon Jewish Community Center about efforts on U.S. college campuses to delegitimize Israel. A former Israel Defense Forces member who served in a unit that handled Palestinian humanitarian and civic issues, Mazzig is now the Israeli shaliach (emissary) with the Pacific Northwest chapter of StandWithUs, a nonprofit group that advocates for Israel. Mazzig has written about his surprise and concern over the anti-Israel rhetoric that he has been subjected to since he began speaking on college campuses here. Mazzig and Michael Dobrin, who heads the local chapter of the National Conference on Jewish Affairs, also met with Vanderbilt Hillel’s Director Ari Dubin and Asst. Director Rabbi Joshua Barton.

Storywalk to Israel

Children got their passports stamped and traveled via their imaginations to the Jewish state last month during the PJ Library’s “Storywalk to Israel.” In this photo, the kids are touring the Jerusalem shuk, or marketplace, where they bought and decorated kiddush cups.

lifecycles B’nai Mitzvah Rachel Becker was called to the Torah as a bat mitzvah on May 24 at The Temple. Born on April 25, 2001, she is the daughter of Scott and Dawn Becker. Her grandparents are Edlyn and Richard Hanson of Sycamore, IL, Carol and Rachel Becker Ira Rubel of Woodbury, NY, and Janice and Stuart Becker of New York City. Rachel is in the seventh grade at the University School of Nashville. Her interests include spending time with her family (especially her dog, Benny) and friends, playing basketball and volleyball, cooking and Birch Trail Summer Camp. For her mitzvah project, Rachel volunteered with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital. Casey Newell was called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah on Saturday, May 31 at West End Synagogue. He is the son of Amy and Scott Newell and the brother of Briley “BJ” Newell. He is the grandson of Anne Elozory of Tampa, FL and Casey Newell the late Link Elozory, and Rita and Jerry Newell of Birmingham, AL. Casey is a graduate of Akiva School who now attends Montgomery Bell Academy, where he plays piano in the jazz band, shoots on the seventh grade riflery team and participates in the Jewish Advisory Group. Casey loves math, origami, Legos, playing gaga, video games, board games with his family and his two cats. He has been a camper for nine years at Ramah Darom and has spent every birthday there since turning 3. This year he will spend his 13th birthday in Israel! Casey studies Tae Kwon Do at Unlimited Martial Arts, where he earned his seconddegree black belt last summer. He continues his Jewish education at West End Religious School. For his mitzvah project, Casey’s goal is to collect $1,000 in order to build an indoor/outdoor gaga pit for West End Synagogue. Sam Halbert was called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah on May 31 at Congregation Sherith Israel. Sam is the son of Keiko and Alan Halbert and the brother of Raymond and Maya. His grandparents are Mitsuko and Mitsukage Asakura of Sam Halbert Yokohama, Japan, and Edith and Melvyn Halbert of Oak Ridge, TN. A rising seventh-grader at Meigs Magnet School, Sam enjoys learning Torah, spending time with friends, playing jazz on his clarinet and taking care of his cat. Sam has traveled to Japan and plans to go to Israel on Birthright when he is in high school. For his mitzvah project, Sam is earning money to donate to Jewish charities, including Zaka and Od Yosef Chai. Benjamin Joseph Sutera will be called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah on Saturday, June 7 at Congregation Micah. Benjamin is the son of Valerie and Terry

Moon, brother of Emma, Jimmy, Chase and Mattison. He is the grandson of Rochelle and Lon Goldsmith of Boynton Beach, FL and of Jane and Phillip Bell of Cocoa, FL. Benjamin Benjamin is a rising Joseph Sutera eighth-grader at Grassland Middle School who enjoys playing basketball, running cross country and spending time with his family and friends. In his quiet time, he enjoys listening to music and watching the “Walking Dead” and “American Horror Story.” For his mitzvah project, Benjamin focused on two things he holds close to his heart: running and the protection and care of animals. Benjamin volunteered as a crew member at the Franklin Mud Run, which raised money for Proverbs 12:10 Animal Rescue. Its mission is to provide shelter and care for animals that have been abused, abandoned, surrendered by their owners or otherwise destined to be euthanized due to over-crowded shelter conditions. Next year Benjamin plans to participate in the Mud Run. Brady Aaron Myers will be called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah on Saturday, June 14 at Congregation Micah. Brady is the son of Deborah and Sanford Myers and brother of Zackary Myers. He is the grandson of Susan and Leslie Myers of Buford, Brady Aaron Myers GA and Patty and John Schroeder of Lake Lure, NC. Brady is a rising eighth-grader at Spring Station Middle School in Spring Hill. He is a Boy Scout and enjoys ice hockey. Isabella Catherine Zimberg will be called to the Torah as a bat mitzvah on Saturday, June 21 at Congregation Micah. Born on June 14, 2001 she is daughter of Leigh and Craig Zimberg and the sister of Jack. She is the grandIsabella daughter of Irene and Catherine Bernie Zimberg of Zimberg Boynton Beach, FL., and Janet and Bob Reed of Brentwood. Isabella is a rising eighth-grader at Harding Academy. She loves playing soccer, gymnastics, swimming, riding bikes and spending time with her friends and family. She also has a love for animals. Isabella's mitzvah project is providing assistance to the Nashville Humane Society and Williamson County Animal Shelter. During Isabella's years with her Girl Scout troop, she has earned badges for her volunteer efforts with local animal shelters. She has personally rescued two dogs, Trueman and Molly. This summer, she will volunteer her time to work at the facilities where she saved the animals that have brought her so much joy. A portion of Isabella’s bat mitzvah gifts will go to these shelters in addition to the B’nai Tzedek Fund she is in the process of creating with the Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Hailey Brooke Mittelberg was called to the Torah as a bat mitzvah on Saturday, May 3 at Congregation Micah. Hailey is the daughter of Tara and Adam Mittelberg and the sister of Jared and Max. Her grandparents are Judi and Paul Richter of Boynton Beach, FL, Judi Mittelberg of Fort Lauderdale, FL and the

late Joel Mittelberg. Hailey is a sixth grader at Grassland Middle School. She loves to play soccer, dance, bake, shop, and spend time with her friends. Hailey Brooke For her mitzvah projMittelberg ect, Hailey is baking cookies and brownies, and making “goody bags” for guests staying at the Ronald McDonald House, where she will also donate a portion of her bat mitzvah gift money. Jared Daniel Mittelberg was called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah on Saturday, May 3 at Congregation Micah. Jared is the son of Tara and Adam Mittelberg and big brother to Hailey and Max. His grandparents Daniel are Judi and Paul Richter Jared Mittelberg of Boynton Beach, FL, Judi Mittelberg of Fort Lauderdale FL and the late Joel Mittelberg. Jared is an eighth grader at Grassland Middle School, where he is on the varsity lacrosse team. He also enjoys playing tennis, football and various other sports. For his mitzvah project, Jared is bak-

ing cookies and brownies, and making “goody bags” and delivering them to the guests staying at the Ronald McDonald house, where he will also donate a portion of his bar mitzvah gift money.

Sympathy …to the family of Bernard Lawrence Schreiber, 82, who died May 11 surrounded by his family. Bernie was born Aug. 25, 1931 to the late William and Rose Smissman Schreiber in the Bronx, NY. He grew up in St. Louis, MO and graduated from St. Louis College of Pharmacy in 1954. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he managed a hospital pharmacy while serving in Japan. He moved to Nashville in 1959 and married Anne Gordon in 1961. Bernie was the owner of Westgate Pharmacy and PrintNet USA. He served as President of Congregation Sherith Israel and as a board member of Akiva School and the National Association of Quick Printers. Bernie is survived by his wife, Anne Gordon Schreiber; daughter, Ellen Schreiber (Joseph P. Michaud); son, William (Rita) Schreiber; sister, Beverly Schreiber (Barry) Eisen; five grandchildren, Joseph M. and Rebecca Michaud and Jessica, David and Holly Schreiber, Continued on page 22

Rabbi Chaim Menachem Tiechtel, who died on April 21, is shown in this photo along with his grandson and great grandson, Rabbi Yitzchock Tiechtel and Levi Tiechtel of Nashville, and his son, Rabbi Shlomo Tiechtel of Brooklyn.

Rabbi Chaim Tiechtel, established a family of shluchim, dies at 91


abbi Chaim Menachem Tiechtel, grandfather of Rabbi Yitzchok Tiechtel of Nashville, died on April 21 in Israel at the age of 91. He was born in 1922 in Pishtian, Czechoslovakia, where his father, Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichthal, headed the rabbinical court and a major Czechoslovakian yeshiva. (The original spelling of the family name combines the Yiddish words teich, which means “river,” and thal, which means valley.) His father and mother, Nechama Teichthal, perished during the Holocaust along with two brothers. The young Tiechtel was one of hundreds of children and young adults who survived the war in Vichy France under the protection of Rabbi Zalman Scheerson. After the war Rabbi Tiechtel directed a Chabad school in France and eventually settled in the Shikun Chabad neighborhood of Jerusalem, where he and his beloved wife, Chaya

Faigel, raised a family of children and grandchildren who are shluchim around the world. “My grandfather was a giant of a man yet was so humble,” said Rabbi Yitzchok Tiechtel. “He was a Holocaust survivor who, despite all odds, made aliyah to Israel and built a beautiful family with hundreds of descendants, thousands of students and did chesed with many families in Jerusalem unbeknownst to us all until we heard about it during the shiva from those families that he assisted very quietly, under the radar.” In addition to his grandson and family in Nashville, Rabbi Tiechtel leaves his wife, Chaya Faigel; his children, Rabbi Yissacher Shlomo Tiechtel of Brooklyn, NY, Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel of Natzret Elit, Israel, Mrs. Esti Bistritsky of Tzfas, Israel, Mrs. Gita Volpo of Netanya, Israel, Mrs. Bracha Levin of Paris, France and Rabbi Meir Tiechtel, also Paris, and numerous grandchildren and greatgrandchildren around the world. Services and burial were in Israel. c

The Observer May 2014


lifecycles Continued from page 21 and several nieces and nephews. Graveside service were May 13at K.K.S.I. Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Congregation Sherith Israel, Jewish Family Service or the charity of the donor’s choice. . . . the family of Rowena Lightman Levy, 85, wife of Martin Levy for 66 years, who died on May 11. She is survived by daughters, Susan Levy and Sherry Levy Daitz (Aaron); sisters, Peggy Ann Cohen and twin sister, Justina Goldstein (Sheldon); grandchildren, Matthew Meisels, Julie Pereira (Jose), Ori Getz (Sarah), Benjamin Daitz (Krystal) and Jennifer Daitz. Graveside services were on May 14 at K.K.S.I. Cemetery. Pallbearers were Aaron Daitz, Michael Milo, Michael Gryll, Sheldon Goldstein, David Cohen, Samuel Gordon, Robin Gordon and Ralph Gordon. Memorials may be made to Congregation Sherith Israel. . . . to the family of Phyllis Feldman Katzoff, 93, who died peacefully at her home May 11. Phyllis was born in New York City on May 4, 1921 to the late Lillie and Lou Salter. She grew up in Manhattan and Miami Beach, FL and graduated from the University of Miami in Coral Gables as a theatre major. While in Miami, she was involved in acting, modeling, producing commercials for

around the town Walter Winchell Radio, World War II USO productions for hospitals, U.S. Air Force Radio shorts and her own sponsored radio show. Phyllis moved to Nashville, where she was married to Albert Feldman for 33 years prior his death in 1979. Together, they had three sons, Marc and identical twins Ted and Tim. Besides being active in the Family business, Nashville Trunk & Bag Co., Phyllis also narrated and directed shows for local organizations, started The Temple Sisterhood’s program for recording for blind students locally and out of town, recorded books for WPLN, taught hearing impaired children, English to Russian immigrants and reading skills to the illiterate, and read to preschool children at Metro schools. She was also a volunteer at Head Start a member of the Magazine Circle since 1948. Phyllis is predeceased by sons, Marc and Tim, her second husband, Marty Katzoff, and stepson Richard. She is survived by son Ted Feldman, his wife Jory, and step grandchildren Seth, Jessie, Eli, and Jonah Goldman, all of Los Angeles; stepsons, Kenny and Steve Katzoff, and several nieces and nephews. The service was on May 14 at The Temple with burial at the Temple Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Alive Hospice of Nashville or The Talking Library of Madison.

The Observer is online! I like to come here, Franz. As I have for nearly twe nty years now.

Dr. Harary to speak at CSI Shavuot party on June 3

Serving as guest lecturer will be Rabbi Rami Shapiro, an award winning author, poet, essayist, and educator. The series will cover a sampling of Jewish texts, traditions, ethics, holidays, lifecycles, and peoplehood. The lectures will at 7 p.m. on July 9, 16 and 23 at The Temple.

Congregation Sherith Israel is throwing a Shavuot party this year featuring hors d’oeuvres, dinner, and a talk by a popular young Torah scholar and physician at Vanderbilt University, Dr. Mendy Harary. Dr. Mendy The program is Harary scheduled for Tuesday, June 3 at the synagogue beginning with appetizers for the community at 7:15 p.m., candle-lighting and davening at 7:42 p.m., followed by a Yom Tov dinner and the presentation by Dr. Harary at 8:15 p.m. Suggested donation for the event is $10 for adults and $5 for children, with a cap of $25 per family. Reservations can be made by emailing Janet at or calling (615) 292-6614. The event is co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

Israeli artists to display and sell work at GJCC Israeli artists Moshe and Goldie Monzon will exhibit and sell their work June 11-14 in the lobby of the Gordon Jewish Community Center. Moshe Monzon is a 6th generation Israeli who creates handmade wall tapestries, micro calligraphies, lithographs and a variety of Jewish-themed craft items such as ketubot and hand-painted wooden mezzuzot and tzedakah boxes. Goldie Monzon designs and makes jewelry. All the items in the exhibit will be for sale, with a portion of the proceeds donated to the GJCC. Moshe Monzon’s tapestries are handmade with synthetic fibers produced in Israel. The tapestries employ modern abstract techniques to depict stately Mediterranean landscapes as well as Jewish themes. The Jewish tradition of micro calligraphy in which the artist creates a painting using tiny Hebrew letters is more than 1,000 years old and was at one time used to disguise sacred writings and protect them from being destroyed. For more information about the exhibition, contact Carrie Mills at 3541699 or

Temple’s annual Taste of Judaism series set for July The Temple is opening its doors to the public for its annual Taste of Judaism, a three-part lecture series in July that offers Jews and non-Jews alike an opportunity to learn or re-learn Jewish beliefs, practices and customs.

And the rose bush has turned into a lovely little tree.

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May 2014 The Observer

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