Supplement to Jewish News, January 27, 2014
Dear Readers, Mazel Tov! Congratulations! Smiles and hugs often follow those spirited words. But what precedes them? Most would reply: Romance. Study. And, good fortune. In this special Mazel Tov issue, we feature articles about weddings, b’nai mitzvot and other celebrations and happy
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occasions. Concerning the subject of weddings, we have articles about chance meetings that turn romantic and ultimately result in marriages. Additional stories are about couples who manage to blend cultures and customs into meaningful ceremonies. If one is to believe the latest Pew study, these types of wedding celebrations are likely to become more and more
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Published 22 times a year by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org www.jewishVA.org Terri Denison, Editor Germaine Clair, Art Director Laine Mednick Rutherford, Associate Editor Hal Sacks, Book Review Editor Sandy Goldberg, Account Executive Mark Hecht, Account Executive Marilyn Cerase, Subscription Manager Reba Karp, Editor Emeritus Miles Leon, President Stephanie Calliott, Secretary Harry Graber, Executive Vice-President 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.
One of our bar mitzvah articles describes a family’s creative way to celebrate when study wasn’t easy for the child. Their service demonstrates that there are many roads to the same place.
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We’ve also asked some in the Tidewater Jewish community to recall an event that
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was particularly memorable. Their stories are sure to make you smile! In addition, we offer some of the ‘Mazel Tovs’ of the ‘Jewish and famous’. . . just because the celebrities’ news can be fun to read and imagine what their parties are like (not that those in Tidewater are any less glamorous!). And, of course, there’s more. . . including some great advertisements from area businesses who might be perfect to help you with your next occasion. We hope you enjoy this issue and that all of your Mazel Tovs! are memorable! Jewish News staff
Mazel Tov! 30 | Jewish News | January 27, 2014 | Mazel Tov | jewishnewsva.org
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THE Lifecyclist Berkeley farm hosts Jewish-Hindu wedding by Debra Rubin
(JTA)—The bride emerged from a yurt, accompanied by her father. The groom and his mother came out of a greenhouse. The four walked to a circular area delineated by a red string. In the center stood a chuppah; beneath the wedding canopy, a copper tin with a small fire. Micha’el and Aumatma BedarShah were married June 30 at Urban Adamah, a small Jewish educational farm in Berkeley, Calif. The couple chose the farm for their interfaith wedding, believing, as Micha’el put it, that “we understand our traditions so much more clearly when we directly experience the wonder of nature.” Their fathers each carried a candle to the circular area “so they could both simultaneously light our candles and we could accept both of their heritages,” Micha’el says. Micha’el, 35, and Aumatma, 32— whose new surname is a merger of his Jewish last name first followed by her Hindu one—worked with Rabbi Gabriel Cousens, who runs the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, Ariz., to plan what the rabbi calls a modern Essene ceremony. The Essenes were a Second Temple period Jewish sect who some scholars believe wrote what came to be known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some aspects of the BedarShahs’ wedding were drawn from the Temple period, with the bride and groom washing each other’s feet and hands, as well as anointing one another with a few drops of oil “to purify each other,” Micha’el says. Frankincense and myrrh incense, used in Temple rituals, burned during the ceremony. In planning their rituals, the couple was surprised to realize how many elements turned out to be similar to both Judaism and Hinduism. The chuppah—in this case, Micha’el’s 100-year-old tattered tallit that had belonged to his grandfather—reminded Aumatma’s father and
uncle of a mandap, the ornate covered structure used at Hindu weddings. “The Indian one is usually more stable, but open on all four sides,” she says. When Micha’el smashed a glass, it was reminiscent of Hindu grooms breaking a clay pot. Both religions have circling rituals: At a traditional Jewish wedding, the bride circles the groom seven times; Hindu couples circle a fire seven times. The BedarShahs did both. And, when they exchanged vows, they did so, Micha’el says, in accordance with “the Torah of Moses and Israel the Vaishnav lineage of Gujurat,” a state in India. The ceremony began with the sounding of a shofar in four directions, “activating the sacred space” and opening it up to the “Holy One of blessing in its most experientially felt form on the earth plane,” he says. Indian ceremonies use a conch shell to make a similar sound. While the ceremony merged aspects of Judaism and Hinduism, the menu—other than a challah—lacked traditional staples, though the dietary restrictions of both faiths were observed. With the exception of one lentil-cooked dish, the organic buffet consisted of raw foods, including a “rawsagna” that featured a ricotta-like macadamia-nut cheese substitute, thinly sliced zucchini rather than pasta and raw marinara sauce, and the challah (made from sprouted grains, nuts and seeds). Kat Morgan, Urban Adamah’s program manager, describes the wedding, the first to be held at the educational farm, as “a converging of worlds.” “Here we are on a Jewish farm, with elements of Hindu in the ceremony and in the background, we have this big church next door and they of course were having their Sunday services. You could go past and you can hear the gospel music,” she says. “It was just a converging of worlds in a very spiritual way.” (If you know of a lifecycle event that would make a great story, send an email to Lifecylist@jta.org.)
Sascha Seinfeld’s bat mitzvah bash Mazel tov to Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld on the bat mitzvah this month of their daughter, Sascha. Of course, a congrats from the public is sad and meaningless in comparison to well wishes from the king of mazel himself, Andy Cohen, who looked absolutely giddy (and squinty) in a party pic posted to Instagram by proud mom Jessica. The Bravo powerhouse was pictured alongside George Stephanopoulos, Jerry and the Seinfelds’ son, Shepherd. A couple of things we learned about the bat mitzvah from said Instagram account: 1. She has inherited at least some of her dad’s sense of humor. A photo posted shows Sascha guzzling a bottle of (virgin) apple cider. The caption: “Gettin’ faded, pre-Bat Mitzvah.” 2. Sascha turned 13 a couple of weeks before the big event, as documented in this adorable, bespectacled shot of her blowing out the candles on her cake. Can she rock nerd glasses or what? What we really want to know, though, is who was invited up for the candle-lighting ceremony? What were the party favors? And did Julia LouisDreyfus show up and do the Elaine dance? (JTA)
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THE Lifecyclist Boy finds way to bar mitzvah with help of Simms Taback graphic books by Debra Rubin
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(JTA)—As his mother read to him, Levi Davishoff puckered and moved his lips in the universal sign indicating that something is sour. He then pointed to the lemon pictured in the library book. His mother, Marla, was thrilled. It was the first time that Levi, then 18 months old, had communicated with the baby sign language he had been learning. He had been in therapy for developmental and cognitive delays since he was two months old. Davishoff rushed out to buy the book, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, by Simms Taback. It would become Levi’s favorite. Little did she imagine that 12 years later the book would play an integral part in Levi’s bar mitzvah ceremony. In fact, for many years it wasn’t clear that any bar mitzvah service would take place. “His learning disabilities were exacerbated by an illness,” Davishoff says. “He had a significant cognitive decline that he still hasn’t recovered from.” Due to the illness, Levi, who attends a therapeutic day school, skipped a year of Sunday school at Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in Lincolnshire, Ill. But he missed being there and remained eager to have a bar mitzvah ceremony. “I just wanted to be like everyone else,” he recalls. Youngsters at Levi’s synagogue aren’t obligated to read the Torah portion at their bar or bat mitzvah. So Levi decided to do a project on Taback, who had become his favorite author. He researched the graphic artist who wrote children’s books and had been a designer for The New York Times and CBS Records. Levi also contacted Taback’s
daughter, who sent an autographed copy of the Joseph—it was placed in the Holy Ark next to the Torah for Levi’s service. “I just love his books; they’re very interesting and I just think they’re great books,” the 13-year-old says. “They’re funny and they’re good stories.” Levi’s mother, meanwhile, designed a service booklet for the May 31 bar mitzvah celebration evoking Taback’s use of collages by using images from Joseph and his other works. After the booklets were printed, she added die cuts to each—a signature of Taback’s books. For example, at the top of the page with “Hatikvah,” she punched out a Star of David, which peeked through to an image on the next page taken from the cover of Taback’s book Kibitzers and Fools. That image appeared near the portion of Levi’s speech that mentions the book. On another page, a punch-out of a wine glass was placed next to the Kiddush in the service, revealing on the following page a picture of the sun and flower from Joseph. “As I learned about Simms Taback, I discovered how important books are in my life,” Levi said in his speech. “I am lucky to collect a small library for myself and I try to find new homes for my books when I am done reading them.” That is, he said, “if my dog Cocoa hasn’t destroyed them first.” “Articulating the speech was the hardest part,” Levi says, his shyness about talking to a reporter coming through. “I just was proud of myself because I did a good thing.” Kol Hadash’s Rabbi Adam Chalom says, “The big smile on his face, his obvious sense of accomplishment and pride, were priceless.”
Dorothy Zimmerman M y v isi t t o t h e W h i t e H o us e In the late 1960s, I was president of the National
took us from where we were staying, up to the White House, and when we get into
Council of Jewish Women in Massachusetts.
the reception area, there was the Marine Corps band. They were playing—you’ll never
Every two years, the Council held a Washington Institute, and the state president and a couple of
we were in awe, but we were in hysterics, and we also had this nervous energy about
officers got to go. So off we headed to Washington,
saying and doing the right thing. There was a receiving line, which—I’ll never forget,
D.C., and it was very exciting. One of the highlights
the Marines took us through—and the first person in line wasn’t Lady Bird. It was Mrs.
was a reception planned for us at the White House. I
Goldberg. Her husband was Arthur—who had been on the Supreme Court and then was
bought a special outfit for the occasion, and a special
Ambassador to the U.N. The thought must have been that we were Jewish, so of course
hat, of course. In those days you had to wear a hat—
everyone Jewish must know everyone else. Lady Bird Johnson was in the line, after Mrs.
and we all looked so smart.
Goldberg, and she was charming. We went into the East Room for the reception, and
We were given a big talking to before we were Dorothy Zimmerman.
guess—Fiddler on the Roof! It was everything we could do to keep a straight face; I mean,
as we were sitting around, there was this portrait of George Washington on his horse in
taken to the White House. It was the time of the
back of us. We were all sitting there, looking around, and we laughed and whispered to
Vietnam War, and people had started speaking out.
each other, with an accent: “Oy, when we’re old, we’ll be sitting in the Home. We’ll be
Eartha Kitt had just been there, singing at a luncheon, and confronted the president or Lady Bird Johnson about the War. We were told that when the President came in to the reception, we were not to say anything that was controversial—no way Jose. A bus
talking, saying to each other—remember when we went to the White House?” Now I’m old and although I don’t have a Jewish accent, I talk about that visit. It was very exciting.
Mazel Tov! May all your celebrations be joyous! Congressman& Mrs.
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34 | Jewish News | January 27, 2014 | Mazel Tov | jewishnewsva.org
Families close the marriage deal with eight pushups by Debra Rubin
(JTA)—Reuben Meltzer had to strike a hard bargain for his wife. At nearly $1,000, her family’s initial asking price was too much. He and Thy Vy’s family finally agreed: $200 and eight pushups apiece from Meltzer, his parents, two brothers, two nephews and the best friend who had introduced the couple. The haggling was part of the traditional Vietnamese wedding celebration that Meltzer, 29, and Vy, 35, held last summer in Melbourne, Australia. It followed their traditional Jewish wedding, which took place in June in Andover, N.J. That the couple had wedding celebrations on two continents doesn’t seem surprising given their background: Vy’s family had moved to Australia from Vietnam when she was 10 years old; Meltzer grew up in New Jersey. The two met in Japan and formed a friendship that eventually grew into romantic love. Vy, who works in corporate banking, had been teaching English in Japan in 2008 when Meltzer, a filmmaker, went to visit his best friend, Jonah Kruvant, who was teaching with Vy. She visited the United States a couple of times, and by January 2011, the couple was in a long-distance relationship. That autumn, he joined her in Melbourne. Judaism was “something we discussed early in our relationship,” Meltzer says. “I told her I wanted to raise a Jewish family.” Vy began studying with a Conservative rabbi in Melbourne in 2011, and completed her conversion in October 2012, just prior to the couple’s engagement. Although her mother had become a Buddhist, Vy didn’t embrace any religion, her husband says. “The decision to convert was easy because through the man I love I came to embrace the religion,” she says.
Given that few of her friends and family could come to the New Jersey wedding, “naturally we wanted to have a small Vietnamese wedding for my family and friends in Australia,” she says. Meltzer doesn’t consider that celebration a religious one, but rather a custom that involves respect for the couple’s ancestors. They wore traditional Vietnamese clothing: for Vy, a red dress called an ao dai, with red symbolizing prosperity and luck; for Meltzer, slacks with a long flowing blue top with red emblems. The shirt’s blue pattern was symbolic of “coins to bring wealth into the marriage,” Meltzer says. The couple lives next door to Vy’s mother and the bride went to her mother’s house the morning of the celebration. Meltzer, his brother, niece and nephew, meanwhile, carrying baskets and tins containing such gifts as tea, fruit, wine and incense, walked around the block before entering Vy’s mother’s home. Once he and Vy’s family finished negotiations for the bride, the families went to a “prayer room,” where a shrine had been set up with fruit to honor the couple’s ancestors. The mothers of the bride and groom “lit a candle together to pay respect to the ancestors,” while the bride and groom lit incense, Meltzer says. Next was a tea ceremony, where Kruvant served each family member from oldest to youngest, who then offered a gift and blessing to the couple. Meltzer’s youngest brother, 13-year-old Uri, offered a surprise blessing. “I think of you as two pieces of the same puzzle,” Uri told the couple. “You’re completely different but fit together perfectly.” If you know of a lifecycle event that would make a great story, email email@example.com.
On Birthright, building Jewish identity and finding love by Gil Shefler
NEW YORK (JTA)—Meredith Ross will never forget when she first laid eyes on Lior, her partner for the past seven years. Lior, an infantryman in the Israel Defense Forces, was escorting Ross’ Birthright Israel group on a free tour of the Jewish state when his friend, a fellow soldier, was killed. Lior was leaving to attend his funeral and had come to say goodbye. The two 18-year-olds spoke for just five minutes, but it was enough. “I remember borrowing someone’s phone to call my mother in the U.S., crying and telling her that I was in love,” says Ross, now 26. Seven years later, they live together in Ramat Hasharon, a leafy suburb of Tel Aviv. The Chicago native completed her undergraduate degree in Israel and now works for a local start-up company. “Birthright was an eye-opening experience for me,” Ross says. “And on top of that it made me so proud to be Jewish.” Now entering its 13th year, TaglitBirthright Israel’s goal is to strengthen the Jewish identity of its participants and their connection to Israel. Yet the popular program also has provided a platform for untold numbers of young singles to form lasting partnerships. No data exists on just how many participants have met their spouses on the trip. Birthright knows of several dozen marriages, though anecdotal evidence suggests the number could be much larger. “Because our main goal at Taglit is to strengthen Jewish identity and bring Jews closer together, we consider it a privilege that we’ve allowed hundreds of couples to meet and build Jewish homes around the world,” says Doron Karni, the vice president of international marketing for Birthright. “This is also in line with the findings of a study by Brandeis University that showed Birthright participants are 45 percent more likely to marry Jewish spouses.” Of course, young couples finding love in Israel is nothing new. But Birthright’s scale, and its success in targeting participants who normally would not participate
in an Israel trip, make its reach potentially far greater. The organization offers dozens of niche programs targeting particular interests and backgrounds, including cycling enthusiasts, fraternity brothers, foodies, recovering addicts and LGBTQ. It was the LGBTQ trip that attracted Alicia Rosenbloom, who says she would never have gone on Birthright if it weren’t for what is known as the Rainbow Tour. She also wouldn’t have met her partner, Jordan Rubenstein. In July 2011, the pair exchanged furtive glances at the airport in New York. During the layover in Zurich, they began chatting. “By the time we got to Israel we were sitting on the bus together and talked a lot more,” Rubenstein says. “A few days in we were already an item.” Over the next 10 days they hiked up Masada, roamed the alleyways of Jerusalem’s Old City and spent a night in a Bedouin tent in the Negev Desert. When they returned home, Rosenbloom moved
from Philadelphia to New York, where Rubenstein works at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the LGBT synagogue in Manhattan. On the second anniversary of their meeting, the two women planned to tie the knot at a ceremony in Queens. “Religion wasn’t a big part of my upbringing,” Rosenbloom says. “I wasn’t bat mitzvahed, and I kind of felt Birthright was for people who were real Jews and real religious.” Not all the romantic Birthright traffic heads east. Michal Ezekiel moved from Israel to Los Angeles in 2010 to be with Max Simon, whom she met on the Tel Aviv beach in 2008. Simon was a recent graduate of the University of San Diego; Ezekiel was one of eight Israeli soldiers who accompanied his group on its Birthright tour. “I was one of those people who went on Birthright just looking to get away
from my life in L.A. and I had no idea what I was walking into,” Simon says. A few months later, Ezekiel joined her family on a trip to California, where the two were reunited. He took Ezekiel out for dinner on her birthday, followed by a romantic walk on the beach. In 2012, they were married in Israel. “That was the first time we hung out outside of the trip,” Simon says. “We saw each other and we realized there was something there.” For those who find love on Birthright, meeting their significant other is the main reward. For years it was widely reported that Michael Steinhardt, one of the program’s main funders, promised Birthright couples a free honeymoon in the Caribbean or Israel. On its website, the Birthright organization makes clear that it does not provide honeymoons to couples who meet on the trip. “Unfortunately,“ says Rubenstein, “it’s an old wives tale.”
jewishnewsva.org | Mazel Tov | January 27, 2014 | Jewish News | 35
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Bonnie & David Brand How we met, or Yasser Arafat, our unintentional matchmaker She says: I was going to school at American University. It was 1974 and Yasser Arafat was going to be speaking in front of the United Nations to say that Zionism is Racism. In October, I was passing out flyers outside of the Student Union, protesting Arafat’s visit when David—who Bonnie and David Brand with their family.
was with a group of friends—
came up and started talking to me about what was on the flyer. We were really both passionate about our beliefs and our support for Israel—it’s what brought us together, and it’s remained a focal point of our family, of David and me, since that day when we first met 37 years ago. He says: I remember when we first met—it’s clear as a bell. I had just come back from a year at Tel Aviv University and was going to stay there, but my mother asked me to come home and get a degree from a university in this country. So I was going to American, and Bonnie had recently transferred up there, too. I was on my way to a University Senate meeting. I was representing the School of Government, and there was some debate about increasing tuition, and this was a big meeting. A friend of mine stopped me on the way and said, “You’ve got to go by the Student Union and meet a bunch of people who are out there demonstrating and getting people to sign petitions about Arafat coming to the U.N.,” the Zionism is Racism thing, the whole business. I said, “Look. I have no interest. I’ll go by and sign a petition, but I don’t really want to meet a lot of people—I want to finish school, I want to go back to Israel.” I had a girlfriend at the time—Bonnie and her, to this day, are great friends—and my plan was to go back immediately after graduating. But, I said, “I’ll go by and meet whoever you want me to meet.” And there were a bunch of people—they had signs and posters—and there was Bonnie, this great looking young woman. I can even recall exactly what she was wearing. She had on a flowered blouse, black pants, those big cork heel shoes—which I guess are back in style—and a very thin gold belt with a turtle buckle. I’ve just never forgotten that moment. She and I didn’t exchange more than pleasantries— a quick, “What are you doing? Where are you from? I just got back from Tel Aviv. We should get together. Great. I gotta go to my meeting.” So I went to the Senate meeting, left there, went back to my fraternity house, and announced to whoever was there and was willing to listen that, “I think I just met the girl I want to marry.” I guess, looking back, I have to credit Arafat and my mother for our first meeting.
36 | Jewish News | January 27, 2014 | Mazel Tov | jewishnewsva.org
Spanish couple marry in Jewish museum they opened
D a v i d L EON Attending a New York Bat Mitzvah A mini-case of culture shock
Spanish couple who built the first Jewish museum in Granada celebrated its opening day by being married there. Gabriel Perez and Beatriz Cavalier married during the dedication ceremony last spring of the Sephardic Museum of Granada, a small institution they established in the southern Spanish city after years of fundraising and lobbying. It is the city’s first Jewish museum, according to a report by the Spanish news agency EFE. The newlyweds—a historian and the daughter of a Jewish woman who fled the area during the Spanish Civil War— decided to open the museum after a month-long visit to Israel, EFE reports. The museum contains books and artifacts collected by the couple from across Andalusia and beyond, which they say help shed light on an ancient community which flourished there until 1492, the onset of the Spanish Inquisition. Many Jews were exiled because of the organized campaign of persecution, while many others were forced to convert to Christianity to avoid torture and death. Granada has a few dozen Jewish families, a fraction of the community’s pre-Inquisition Jewish population. The museum offers tours around old Granada in the footsteps of its Jewish community. “We show how the Jews lived, we introduce the Jewish glossary and we explain about some famous people who were converted to Christianity,” Perez says. The couple has showcased Jewish Sephardic poetry in Spain and Jewish food and music festivals this winter. The couple is in contact with the Andalucía Museum Network in the hope of having the new museum recognized. Dozens of municipalities across Spain and Portugal over the past two decades have restored sites connected to their Jewish heritage. (JTA)
We have very close cousins who lived in Westchester, N. Y. I was probably 11, and one of my cousins had a Bat Mitzvah, and my family went. It was the first time I’d really been to New York. The party was held at a Country Club, not a synagogue. My brothers and I had never been to an organized event like this before. One of the things we weren’t used to, were all of the people who couldn’t seem to understand us. We couldn’t understand them either—our accents were so different, and theirs’ were really thick. At one point, there was a kid who was older than me, standing nearby, David Leon at his Bar Mitzvah in Israel.
who kept yelling at me. Finally, he came over close and said, and I understood him— maybe he spoke slower, “What are you? Deaf?”
At the party, there was this big spread of food. Not all of it was Kosher, there was a lot of it, and it looked very good. I remember: we were hungry, we ate, and we kept eating. We filled up. We thought it was dinner. It wasn’t—it was just the hors d’ouevres. Now we know better —we’ve been to other Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and weddings like that, but for our first time experiencing it—we did have a little culture shock. I don’t know if we’d ever do anything like this for our kids—I don’t want to say anything I’ll regret later!
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Simon Cowell’s Jewish plans, Israel trip Music mogul Simon Cowell is thinking of joining the tribe, the Mirror reported. The “X Factor” judge, who has a Jewish father but was raised Roman Catholic, has been inspired by his Jewish soon-to-be baby mama (and maybe soon-to-be wife) Lauren Silverman. She is expecting their first child in February. Looks like Cowell is taking the whole thing quite seriously, having planned a “secret” trip to Israel because he wants to make a “more informed decision” before he commits to the faith, a source told the British tabloid. Cowell also recently made a $150,000 donation to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces at a fundraiser in Beverly Hills, and is possibly considering taking up traditional Israeli dance lessons in preparation for his wedding. Signing off now to work on our pitch about a reality show featuring Cowell’s on-screen conversion, during which he is judged by a panel of bombastic rabbis. (JTA)
Passover story wins a Sydney Taylor Book Award BOSTON (JTA)—An illustrated children’s book that tells the story of the Passover Exodus in the voice of a young slave girl is among the top winners of this year’s Sydney Taylor Book Award. The Longest Night: A Passover Story by Laurel Snyder, and illustrated by Catia Chien, won in the young readers category, the Association of Jewish Libraries announced Tuesday, Jan. 21. The other two gold medal winners are celebrated children’s writer and artist Patricia Polacco, who won in the older readers category for The Blessing Cup, a prequel to her award-winning children’s classic The Keeping Quilt, first published in 1988. Neal Bascomb won the award in the teen category for The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi, an account
of the spy mission to capture Adolf Eichmann. Six honor books also were awarded medals and 13 books were cited as notable. Among the honor books for younger readers is Rifka Takes a Bow, by Betty Rosenberg Perlov, 96, and illustrated by Cosei Kawa. Rosenberg Perlov is a firsttime children’s author whose book is a fictionalized account of her own early childhood growing up in a family of Yiddish theater and radio stars. The award, which memorializes Taylor, author of the All-of-a-Kind Family series, honors new books for children and teens that exemplify high literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience. The winners are listed at www. SydneyTaylorBookAward.com.
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38 | Jewish News | January 27, 2014 | Mazel Tov | jewishnewsva.org
Felicia & Felice Commitment and a Kiddush by Laine Mednick Rutherford
In 1997, my sister, Felicia wanted to get married. Legally, she couldn’t, because her partner
In what will hopefully be a blissful mawage, Disney has announced plans to work with William Goldman on a theatrical production based on his book The Princess Bride and screenplay for Rob Reiner’s 1987 classic film Princess Bride. It’s not the first time an attempt has been made to bring the story to the stage. Goldman teamed up with other theater people several years ago,
wasn’t Frank or Ferdinand, she was Felice (of
but per The Hollywood Reporter, although “much of the score was com-
blessed memory). The pair never let much
pleted, development was halted in 2007 over a financial dispute.”
stop them from doing what they wanted, and
Felice and Felicia
Princess Bride stage bound
Somehow we have faith that Disney can make this thing finally happen.
what they thought was right, so they talked
If not, we know a certain six-fingered man who might be able to give them
and planned and talked some more until
a push. (JTA)
invitations were sent out for the commitment
ceremony of their creative imaginations: a Kiddush Arigat Chayenu, “the Sanctification of the Interweaving of Our Lives.” On the top of a hill at a Massachusetts country club, more than 100 of Felicia and Felice’s closest friends and several dozen family members bore witness to the women’s vows of love and loyalty to one another—and to the social justice and Jewish ideals they both strongly held. Every moment in the ceremony held a special meaning to them: from the blowing of the shofar signaling them to walk up the hill—no Wedding March for this couple—to the chuppah, which they’d created with a hand painted silk prayer shawl. Forget recorded music, Felicia and Felice had enlisted a chorus of women, men and children who sang in Hebrew and in English during the ceremony, including this from the Song of Psalms: Iti mil’vanon, iti kallah tavo-ee…Zot dodati! Zot rayati! Bnot yerushalaim, zot dodati! How beautiful you are my friend, your eyes are like doves. This is my beloved, this is my friend. Daughters of Jerusalem, this is my beloved.
Pamela Anderson honeymoons in Israel Forget Hawaii! Newly remarried couple Pamela Anderson and Rick Salomon took an El Al flight straight to Israel after exchanging vows recently. According to The Times of Israel, the former Baywatch star and her film producer hubby (of Paris Hilton sex tape fame) stayed in a suite at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Early on they visited the Dead Sea. It’s not Anderson’s first trip down the
aisle with Salomon—the two were married briefly in 2007—or her first trip to Israel. In 2010, Anderson shot an ad campaign in the Holy Land, and in 2011 she served as a judge on the Israeli version of “Dancing with the Stars.” Wouldn’t it be great if Anderson chose Israel because someone’s come up with a Mediterranean, Tel Aviv-based “Baywatch” reboot? We can dream. (JTA)
Distinctly Jewish marriage rites were part of the Kiddush, including concealment of each other’s faces with a tallis, and then a revealing of their faces as the tallit were lifted. They each walked around the other three times, and then walked in a circle together, showing they were the center of each other’s universe. They were blessed with a Birkhat Cohanim, the priestly blessing. They broke a glass under their feet. They kissed. There were more Jewish elements at this non-wedding than any I have ever experienced at a traditional wedding. Interwoven too, were aspects of family, political cor-
Julio Iglesias says he’s ‘Jewish from the waist up’
rectness, feminism, gay rights and social activism. The culminating part of the ceremony
Latin love machine Julio Iglesias recently dished to The Jerusalem Post that
was fantastic, cinematic and unbelievable. From behind the seated chorus we could see
he is Jewish “from the waist up.”
a man walking up the hill, carrying a tarnished saxophone. Seconds later, a woman and a man carrying a pair of drumsticks joined him. They began playing a Klezmer tune, distracting us all and allowing Felicia and Felice the chance to slip away before the hours of festivities followed. One of the most touching moments of the day for me came as I was talking to one of the guests at the reception. When she found out I was Felicia’s sister and how many of us had traveled from all over the U.S. to attend the ceremony, she said she found it amazing. There had never been any doubt that we would come, so when I asked her why, she responded, “Because that’s usually not the case. You usually don’t see any family at ceremonies like these. They won’t come.” Felicia and Felice became one of the first same-sex partners to be legally married in
The 70-year-old singer is not, in fact, some kind of Semitic centaur; he just skipped a certain traditional rite of passage. “I’ve known my whole life about my family’s Jewish past, there were lots of conversations in my house about the Inquisition and about Sephardim,” said Iglesias, a Madrid native. “My mother’s name—de la Cueva y Perignat—was a very Jewish name.” This might explain his frequent visits to Israel. Following his performances there in 2009 and 2011, he played Israel again over the summer and has a Tel Aviv concert booked for Nov. 24. “The world understands that Jews are a race that use their customs and
Amherst, Mass. when gay marriage was permitted in that state 11 years ago. A song that
character to make the world a better place,” Iglesias said. “And when I’m in
we heard at their Kiddush, and then again at Felice’s funeral in 2011, spoke volumes about
Israel, I see something completely unique taking place. I see a very strong
their love, and their beliefs: “How could anyone tell you, you were anything less than beauti-
Jewish country and I see Spanish Jews, Russians, Argentinians all with one
ful? How could anyone ever tell you, you were anything less than whole? How could anyone
motivation—to keep Israel safe. And that touches my heart.” (JTA)
fail to notice that your loving is a miracle? How deeply you’re connected to my soul.”
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