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Supplement to Jewish News April 6, 2015

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Home Published 22 times a year by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

Dear Readers,


t last, it’s starting to look and feel like Spring! Following an unusually long, cold winter, Tidewater residents finally are able to get into the swing of refreshing their homes. After all, this is the time of year when homeowners traditionally start sprucing up their homes…inside and out. The cleaning begins in the closets and drawers and moves to the garages and then outside. While it might be some hard work, many are excited and even exhilarated by the process and the satisfaction of clean spaces and green things growing and blooming. Speaking of cleaning, have you checked the ingredients in your cleaning products? After reading our article on the subject, you might want to. Some homeowners find this season perfect for selling. Shikma Rubin, a loan officer at Tidewater Home Funding, offers some tips about purchasing investment properties on page 24. As always, there’s more, such as an article on saving dollars by using a programmable thermostat. We hope our article on Judaica at a European art fair is of interest to local collectors. Plus, of course, our advertisers are great sources for taking care of your home and all it needs, this and every season. One more item: That beautiful image on this section’s cover of a cozy backyard retreat belongs to Jewish News’ art director, Germaine Clair and her husband, Brooks Johnson. It’s always a treat to visit her garden. I can’t wait for this year’s invitation! Happy Home!

Terri Denison Editor

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Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community 5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Suite 200 Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462-4370 voice 757.965.6100 • fax 757.965.6102 email news@ujft.org Terri Denison, Editor Germaine Clair, Art Director Hal Sacks, Book Review Editor Sandy Goldberg, Account Executive Mark Hecht, Account Executive Marilyn Cerase, Subscription Manager Reba Karp, Editor Emeritus Sherri Wisoff, Proofreader Miles Leon, President Stephanie Calliott, Secretary Harry Graber, Executive Vice-President www.jewishVA.org The appearance of advertising in the Jewish News does not constitute a kashrut, political, product or service endorsement. The articles and letters appearing herein are not necessarily the opinion of this newspaper. © 2015 Jewish News. All rights reserved. Subscription: $18 year For subscription or change of address, call 757-965-6128 or email mcerase@ujft.org.

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About the cover: Spring Garden. Photo © Brooks Johnson.

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Conserving money and energy with a programmable thermostat

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For maximum energy savings, consider a base temperature of no lower than 78° F in the summer and no more than 68° F in the winter.


ooking for ways to cut down on utility payments? One place to start is with a programmable thermostat. According to ENERGY STAR, it is possible to save about three percent for every degree that the thermostat is set above 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and one percent by lowering the temperature by one degree for eight hours in the winter. Programming guidelines Programmable thermostats come with pre-arranged setting options that allow homeowners to program the temperature for when they wake up, during the day and evening, and at night while at sleep. Some models allow for setting up the program for seven days, while others accommodate weekends with five-plus-two setting arrangements. The key is for each family to figure out the optimal settings for their lifestyle and program those times and temperatures into the device. For maximum comfort and energy efficiency, ENERGY STAR and Virginia Beach contractor Eric Conner of Sonny’s Mechanical Service recommends a base temperature of no lower than 78° F in the summer and no more than 68° F in the winter. During the day when no one is

home, set the thermostat a little higher in the summer or lower in the winter to save energy. Return to a normal comfortable temperature for the evening; adjust the temperature again for while everyone sleeps. The program can also be set to hold a certain temperature when away for extended periods. For instance, the house doesn’t need to be comfortable when the family is gone on summer vacation, so set the thermostat to hold at a warmer temperature during that time. Resist overrides While temperature settings are programmed and set to change automatically, the settings can always be altered to accommodate special situations. However, savings will be lost if this feature is consistently used. The most money will be saved and the home kept heated or cooled evenly when the settings are allowed to remain in place for eight hours or more. Thermostat location The thermostat’s location affects its performance and efficiency. To operate properly, a thermostat must be on an interior wall away from direct sunlight, drafts, doorcontinued on page 20

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From to

Planning Perfection


continued from page 19

ways, skylights and windows. Furniture blocks natural air movement, so don’t place pieces in front of or below the thermostat. More energy saving tips A programmable thermostat is just one of many energy-saving strategies that can make a difference in utility bills. To keep heating and cooling systems performing at peak efficiency, Conner says annual preventive maintenance is a must. The company also recommends these do-it-yourself tips to maximize savings all year round.

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In the Summer • Close shades during the day and invest in reflective window film to help keep the heat outside. • If temperatures are on the chilly side after the sun goes down, crack a few windows to let the cool air in. • Use a ceiling fan. It will allow the thermostat setting to be raised about 4° F without any reduction in comfort. • Get rid of air leaks. Grab a caulk gun and seal off anywhere that air might be escaping. Also replace weather stripping as needed. • Replace incandescent lights, which use more energy and generate a lot more heat than CFL or LED light bulbs. • Avoid using the oven and stovetop. Instead, fire up the grill or whip up a salad or sandwich. • Plant trees on the side of the house that

gets the most sun. The extra shade will protect from the sun’s rays. In the winter • Open curtains on south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat the home. • Use plastic sheeting to keep cold air from infiltrating through window frames. • Install insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty. • Seal air leaks around pipes, switch plates, gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings. • Keep the fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. • If a fireplace is never used, plug and seal the chimney flue. • If the fireplace is used, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room. Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible. The average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills—nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. Homeowners can save about $180 a year by properly setting their programmable thermostats to the ENERGY STAR-recommended temperatures and maintaining those settings. And that’s just the beginning. Scheduling professional preventive maintenance on heating and cooling equipment and implementing these strategies help make homes more energy-efficient.


Are your Spring cleaning products safe? (StatePoint) Do you know what ingredients are in the cleaning products you buy? Probably not, as there are no federal governmental regulations requiring companies to disclose their contents. But harsh chemicals can take their toll on the indoor air quality of your home, are harmful to the environment and may irritate eyes and skin. So how can you learn more about the cleaning products you plan to purchase? Luckily, certain retailers are making it easier for consumers to make informed decisions. For example, in 2011 Whole Foods Market introduced the Eco-Scale Rating System, which are the first household cleaner standards offered by a retailer. This season, don’t just spring clean your home; take stock of your cleaners and clean up your entire act. By opting for green cleaning products, you can help make your home a safer, healthier place. Here’s how: •D  o an audit: Take a look at the cleaning products you currently own. Just because a brand or product is well-known does not make it a healthy option. A quick Internet search can reveal the safety attributes of a product’s ingredients—so long as the manufacturer has chosen to disclose ingredients. Toss anything problematic and make a shopping list of what you need to replace. •F  ull disclosure: Avoid cleaning products that don’t disclose what ingredients they use. Look for brands, such as 365 Everyday Value, that make it easy for you to know what ingredients are being used in the product you’re purchasing. •B  e informed: Know what ingredients to avoid entirely. Harsh ingredients like formaldehyde and chlorine can still be found in cleaning products today. Don’t know where to start? Take a look at the



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list of more than 40 ingredients that aren’t allowed in Whole Foods Market’s cleaning products, including chlorine, formaldehyde, phosphates, phthalates and triclosan. •L  ock-up: No matter the contents of your cleaners, it’s good practice to keep them stored in a safe place, such as a locked cabinet. Young children and pets should not be able to access your cleaning products supply. •D  o it yourself: A quick and easy way to know exactly what’s in your cleaning products is to make them yourself. Luckily, only a few inexpensive ingredients are needed to make your own all-purpose cleaner. Simply mix one part water with one part vinegar, add a few drops of your favorite pure essential oil, and you have an all-purpose spray. Baking soda is another great cleaner that has a mild scrubbing power and helps combat odors. Don’t have the time to make your own cleaner? The Eco-Scale Rating system evaluates products for environmental impact, safety, efficacy, source, labeling and animal testing. Visit WholeFoodsMarket.com/ecoscale to learn more. If using conventional cleaning supplies, you may be exposing your family to harmful ingredients. By learning more about the products you use, you can green your spring cleaning, for a healthier home.



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Turn bathrooms into a relaxing oasis (StatePoint) Time spent in the bathroom can be precious, as it may be your only solo time. When prioritizing home upgrades, consider first transforming a ho-hum, conventional bathroom into an oasis of comfort, style and ultimate relaxation.

Relax Replace outdated fixtures with new top-quality options that offer greater functionality. Manufacturers such as Mansfield Plumbing, produce fixtures and fittings designed to work in tandem. Such “suites” of a toilet, sink and bathtub can improve

the look of a bathroom setting. In a toilet, there are certain features to seek. A SmartHeight toilet allows for easier access. For those who are environmentally conscious or looking for a pocketbook-friendly option, seek out a WaterSense rated toilet, signifying greater water conservation. When it comes to relaxation, the bathtub is king. Luckily, manufacturers are innovating features to go beyond whirlpools. New bathtub offerings include chromatherapy mood light systems, thermotherapy heated backrests and in-line heaters that keep water heated perfectly. Retreat Make your bathroom the perfect retreat from the rest of the house and the outside world with a few stylish accents that provide greater solitude. For example, privacy decorative glass windows and privacy acrylic block windows offered from Hy-Lite are design elements that don’t compromise natural light. Available in four designer frame colors, you can go beyond plain frosted glass with stylish windows that come either operable or fixed in place. Offered in varying shapes and sizes, it’s easy to match windows to other bathroom elements, such as tiles and countertops. Take your spa retreat a step further by piping music into your bathroom with humidity-resistant speakers unsusceptible to steamy showers and hot baths.

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Beauty On a limited budget you can give the bathroom an elegant long-term facelift by investing in millwork products that resist humidity so you don’t experience warping. From crown moulding to trim around showers and bathtubs to ceiling medallions, polyurethane is a more practical material than traditional wood for these design elements. It’s lightweight, easy to install, and most importantly, designed to resist the humidity of bathing. To get the look of a luxury hotel, the experts at Fypon, which produce thousands of pieces of polyurethane millwork, moulding and trim in a variety of architectural styles, recommend a few project ideas: • Install a set of pilasters on both sides of your shower stall and a door crosshead overhead to upgrade your bathroom’s look. • Surround mirrors and decorative accent windows with painted or stained polyurethane mouldings that complement the room. • Install chair rail moulding around the bathroom to add dimension. Paint above or below the moulding and use wallpaper, paneling or a different color paint in the other section. While many think of the bathroom as a place to take care of necessary business, you can easily give yours an upgrade that will transform it into a whole lot more.

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At European art fair, collectors increasingly seek Jewish objects by Menachem Wecker (JTA)


ollector interest in art objects with Jewish content and themes was on the rise at The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), a major annual event with nearly 275 galleries selling everything from ancient sculpture to Rembrandt paintings to photography and modern art. The fair, often hailed as the “world’s premier fair for pre-21st century artworks,” held in the southern tip of the Netherlands, took place last month. “Ten years ago there was hardly anything at all, and now there are several stands and some stands with groupings in [Jewish] objects. Clearly that would not be the case if people wouldn’t be buying them,” says Eike Schmidt, the James Ford Bell curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Schmidt knows of several younger collectors in the field, which might help explain the growing interest in Jewish objects, and he has been surprised to learn of not only U.S. and Israeli collectors in the field, but also European ones. He wonders if rising anti-Semitism in Europe has been a factor. “People are confronted with an identity that they otherwise wouldn’t think about,” he says. “That might play a role.” Schmidt points to one particularly impressive example of Jewish art at the fair: what is being billed as a “travelling Chanukia” created around 1710 in Amsterdam by the non-Jewish artist Abraham Effemans. The golden Hanukkah lamp, which is about five inches tall, was on sale at the booth of Amsterdam-based John Endlich Antiquairs. Dick Endlich, co-director of the gallery, who was also selling a contemporary Hanukkah menorah, a Jewish spice box from 1710, and a yad, or Torah pointer, from 1806, says that ceremonial objects of this sort tend to attract buyers who relate personally to them. “Because they were all made for religious ceremonies, mostly the

Jewish people, or museums, are interested,” he says. Elsewhere at the fair, the Londonbased Stephen Ongpin Fine Art was selling a late 19th-century painting of Jaffa by artist Gustav Bauernfeind, one of the first European artists to spend time in Jerusalem, Damascus and Jaffa. The work was owned by a rabbi for 40 years, says Ongpin, who has had a couple of inquiries about the painting from Israeli collectors. And at the booth of Rome-based Alberto Di Castro, which has exhibited at TEFAF for 20 years, Judaica was on sale for the second year in a row. Last year, the entire lot sold out, Di Castro says, noting that the silver seder plates, Jewish book bindings and Elijah’s cup on view in his stall ranged in price from a few thousand Euros to 100,000 Euros each. The most unique Jewish object at the fair, however, might have been what Cohen and Cohen, of the U.K., describe as a rare “porcelain figure of a standing woman dressed in the formal clothes of the 16th-century Frankfurt Jewish community.” The figure was made in China around the year 1740 and was intended for export to either the Dutch or English market. Frankfurt Jews were required to wear certain identifiable attire, explains Will Motley, researcher for Cohen and Cohen. The piece, he adds, came with two accompanying figures: a man and a Turkish dancer. All three command high prices — the one at TEFAF has a tag around 200,000 Euros. Despite the object’s value, Chinese Judaica export pieces tend to “pass by” most Judaica collectors, according to Michael Cohen, the gallery’s director. “It’s not even on their radar. What I would love is for the Israel Museum in Jerusalem to buy the lady figure,” he says. “It would start to make people realize that there was a strong Jewish connection with the China trade.”

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Six things to know about investment properties by Shikma Rubin


nterested in an investment property this year? Before diving into the process, it is important to understand several important pieces of information. Here are six topics to consider about investment properties: 1. You can’t obtain a residential mortgage under an LLC When the housing market crashed in 2008 and 2009, most banks and lenders stopped financing mortgages under an LLC or limited liability company. That’s because during the crash, many people with LLCs walked away from their investment properties, which caused foreclosures. Although the real estate market has

improved since the crash, banks have not loosened regulations on LLCs. If you plan to secure financing for your investment property under an LLC, it will be financed as a commercial loan. 2. How much have you already financed? Many banks have limits on the number of financed properties you can have, including primary and second homes. That’s because banks care about properties that currently have a mortgage. With every mortgage you take on, the bank considers you a higher risk. 3. Down payment and rates To receive financing for an investment property, you must provide a 20% down

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payment. If you put down more than 20%, interest rates tend to be more favorable. 4. House flipping Before purchasing a property, do your research on how long the property has been titled. Most lenders will not accept a property titled less than 91 days. If you plan to buy a property so you can flip, the title may also impact the financing a buyer can receive. For example, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan has strict rules for financing a recently-flipped property. The FHA will only finance a property titled more than 90 days. You will also need a second appraisal to confirm additional value. 5. Let’s talk condos Condominiums have their own set of regulations because lenders view them as a higher risk. Why? As an owner, you rely on other unit owners to maintain their own places and pay condo association fees. If you plan to finance an investment condominium, you need to know if the condo project/building is considered warrantable (follows guidelines for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, etc.). If a property is not warrantable, you will have a tougher time with financing. Examples that make a condo warrantable include: • 51% of all units in the entire development have owner occupants; • No more than 15% of the current unit owners are delinquent in payment of homeowners dues; and • No one individuals/entity may own 10% or more of the units in the condo development. Lenders will require the property manager to complete a condo questionnaire to determine if a condo is warrantable. 6. Renovation Loans “If you have the funds to remodel, you could receive a discount on the purchase and improve the property for less than if it was bought move-in-ready,” says

Emily Nied, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Towne Realty. “Then, there is an opportunity to resell for a profit or hold the property and rent it out for Shikma Rubin a higher price.” If you do not have the cash-on-hand, but want to do the renovations on investment properties and second homes, you could purchase and finance renovation costs into a loan. You may also refinance and remodel an existing property.  The loan program may cover up to 50% of the completed value of the home. It’s a great option if you want to buy an investment property that needs repairs and remodeling. Shikma Rubin is a loan officer at Tidewater Home Funding in Chesapeake, Va. (NMLS #1114873). Visit shikmarubin.com for weekly mortgage tips. She can be reached at 757-4904726 or srubin@tidewaterhomefunding.com.

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