Southeastern Virginia | Vol. 58 No. 17 | 16 Sivan 5780 | June 8, 2020
Simon Family JCC reopens
8 Congregations aid locals in need
10 Mikvah nears completion
19 Town Hall with Congresswoman Elaine Luria Wednesday, June 10
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19 Jewish Fellowship for young adults launches
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Not quite what we’d envisioned Amy Zelenka
s the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s 2020 Community Campaign draws to a close, many of us will look back on it as “one for the record books.” The 2020 Campaign—Our 2020 Vision, as we called it—did not turn out to be anything like what we’d envisioned. But it will stand out as a great success for the dollars it raised and the individuals and agencies it supported through a crisis unlike any we’ve faced during most of our lifetimes. While we were working, eating, sleeping, running, and just simply living our lives…an invisible microbe sidled up to us and made itself known in the most horrific way. And it continues to sicken us physically, emotionally, and financially in some cases. Next year will be an uphill climb for us in many ways. Our hope is that the Federation will be able to continue to rely upon existing and new donors to aid and assist those who most need our help. We hope that you are extremely proud of your Federation and affiliate agencies—proud of how they managed to pivot quickly to address needs in new ways and how they continue meeting those needs and preparing for whatever may come in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Please know that your Federation is proud of you and the way you stepped up to support the Emergency Relief Fund, run alongside the annual Campaign. Yes, we are proud… but not surprised. The 2020 campaign now sits at just over $4.7 million. That is $4.7 million to help meet the needs of vulnerable Jews in
$4.7 million raised in the
Upfront . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Tidewater and in communities like ours around the world. There are just a few days left to make a gift to the 2020 Campaign. It closes officially on June 30. If you’re able to help, please visit us at www.jewishva.org to make your gift online. Every dollar helps. Every donation is meaningful and valued. Proud, but not surprised. And it is incredibly reassuring to know that when we reach out to our community for the 2021 campaign, you will once more respond, “Hineni.” I am here to help. For more information about the Annual Campaign or the Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund, visit www.jewishva.org or call or email Amy Zelenka, Campaign director at 965-6139 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Briefs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Special Section: Dads and Grads. . . . . 11 Simon Family JCC Reopens. . . . . . . . . . 5 What’s Happening. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 JCC reinvention during quarantine. . . . 6 Obituaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Congregations feed others. . . . . . . . . . . 8 YAD’s Mystery Wine Night . . . . . . . . . 23 Reactions to protests over George Floyd’s death . . . . . . . . . 9
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BRIEFS Kosher meat sent from U.S. to Jews living in the UAE A shipment of kosher meat sent from the United States landed in the United Arab Emirates for the country’s Jews last month. The amount of meat will take care of the Jewish community for about a month and a half, Israel’s national broadcaster Kan reported, citing unnamed sources in the UAE Jewish community. The Jewish community in the United Arab Emirates, mostly centered in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, is estimated to number about 150 families or up to 2,000-3,000 people, with most residents originally from the United States, Europe and South Africa, the Yeshiva World News reported. A video of the crates of meat was posted on Twitter on a page called Jewish Community of the UAE. (JTA) New relief fund providing aid to Jews of color who are struggling due to coronavirus A new relief fund is providing financial aid to Jews of color who are struggling economically due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Jews of Color Field Building Initiative announced the launch of an emergency relief fund last month. The San Francisco-based group will be providing aid of between $250 and $2,500 on a rolling basis to individuals struggling with basic necessities, such as rent, groceries, and medical bills. The organization has received two applications since launching yesterday, said Angel Alvarez-Mapp, who serves as the initiative’s director of programs and operations. “What happens in the general U.S. community happens to the Jews as well. We don’t live in an isolated little bubble,” he said. “So we’ve been able to see that the impacts of COVID-19 not only are affecting people of color in the United States, but they’re also affecting Jews of color in ways that are similar to the people of color community.” African-Americans have been affected by the coronavirus and face economic struggles due to the pandemic at disproportionately high rates. 4 | Jewish News | June 8, 2020 | jewishnewsva.org
Jews of color as well as people of color working for or affiliated with Jewish organizations are eligible to apply. “We were thinking about synagogues and JCCs and these massive buildings that run usually because there’s a staff of people behind the scenes that nobody really sees, who generally are not Jews, and those people are suffering right now,” said Alvarez-Mapp. (JTA)
Rabbis can be military chaplains in Germany for first time since the 1930s Rabbis can be military chaplains again in the German military for the first time since they were kicked out by the Nazis in the 1930s, nearly a century ago. The German Bundestag, or parliament, unanimously approved the move in a vote last month. “The first clergymen are expected to begin their ministry this autumn,” a statement by the Department of Defense. “Later, up to 10 pastoral workers of the Jewish faith are to serve in the German armed forces.” The decision completes a promise made at the end of 2019 by Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. A state contract was signed in December with the Central Council of Jews in Germany, modeled after similar state contracts with the evangelical and Catholic churches. Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Twitter: “After about 100 years, we will install a Jewish military rabbi in the #Bundeswehr again. A clear commitment: Jewish life is self-evident in our country.” About 300 Jewish soldiers serve in the German army abroad, according to the New York Times. “The military rabbis will play an important support role for Jewish soldiers,” said Central Council President Josef Schuster. “Particularly in times of growing anti-Semitism and the spread of conspiracy myths in society, this is an important step in supporting democratic attitudes among the soldiers.” As many as 12,000 Jewish soldiers died fighting for Germany in World War I, before the Nazis came to power. (JTA)
AIPAC cancels policy conference citing COVID-19 AIPAC has canceled its 2021 policy conference, citing the “continued uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Betsy Korn, the president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, made the announcement in a letter sent on Sunday, May 31. The conference had been scheduled for March 7-9 in Washington, D.C. One of the first signs that the deadly virus had hit American shores earlier this year was AIPAC’s announcement immediately following this year’s conference that two of those in attendance were infected. That conference, which ran Feb. 28-March 2, drew 18,000 activists to Washington. “While we will sorely miss seeing our AIPAC family in Washington and connecting in person as a pro-Israel community, what truly binds us together is our shared commitment to ensuring the safety and security of America and Israel,” Korn said in the letter. “AIPAC will continue to find new and creative ways over the coming year for us to connect online and in person to advance the U.S.-Israel relationship. “The impact of COVID-19 will make this a different and challenging year.” (JTA) “Looting loss loans available immediately,’ Jewish Free Loan Association tells L. A. residents Until last week, Los Angeles’ Jewish Free Loan Association was busy doling out financial support to locals who were struggling because of the coronavirus crisis. Now, the group is making loans available to people hit hard by another crisis: the aftermath of protests responding to the police killing of George Floyd. The city’s Jewish community has been hit particularly hard by the protests. The Jewish Journal and Haaretz reported that several Jewish-owned businesses, restaurants, and synagogues were damaged, looted, and vandalized with hateful spray paint. Much of that happened in L.A.’s Fairfax district, historically home to a
large Jewish community and many Jewish businesses—including the famed Canter’s deli. But demonstrations have taken place elsewhere in the city and county as well. The Jewish Free Loan Association, an L.A.-based organization founded in 1904, announced it is offering interest-free loans of up to $18,000 to all residents of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. (JTA)
There are now 500,000 negative tweets about George Soros daily. Many claim he’s funding George Floyd protests. Right-wing conspiracy theorists are increasingly claiming that George Soros is funding recent protests and riots across the United States in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing. According to the Anti-Defamation League, “aggressive language towards Soros has exploded on social media.” Negative tweets about the billionaire Jewish philanthropist rose from 20,000 per day on May 26 to 500,000 per day on May 30. The posts, according to the ADL, mostly allege (without evidence) that Soros is funding riots across the country, and that he is backing Antifa, a loose network of anti-fascist activists whom President Donald Trump has blamed for the violence, also without citing evidence. The ADL says that the Soros theories “can serve as a gateway to the antisemitic subculture that blames Jews for the riots.” People posting about Soros include prominent Trump supporters like Twitter pundit Candace Owens and actor James Woods. Soros, a Hungarian-born financier who funds a variety of liberal causes in the United States and globally, is a favorite bogeyman of the right and conspiracy theorists in particular. Recent Soros conspiracies have alleged that he is driving the spread of COVID-19 in order to profit from a future vaccine and that he pays left-wing protesters. Trump tweeted in 2018 that Soros paid protesters opposed to Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban put up a billboard campaign in 2017 opposing Soros that was deemed anti-Semitic. (JTA)
simon Family JCC
Simon Family JCC reopens Monday, June 8 G
overnor Ralph Northam announced on Tuesday, June 3 that he would move the portion of the Commonwealth that includes Tidewater into Phase 2 of reopening effective Friday, June 5. With his announcement, the Simon Family JCC made final preparations to open its doors—with an abundance of new safety and sanitizing procedures in place. “We are excited to officially welcome our members back to the Simon Family JCC,” says Betty Ann Levin, executive vice president/CEO. “As we begin the process of welcoming everyone back, we will continue to communicate our new procedures for registering for classes, fitness, and pool times,” says Levin, noting that the Center is adhering to all Virginia-mandated guidelines, as well as CDC recommendations during the COVID19 pandemic. Since the end of March when the JCC, along with all fitness centers, schools, and religious institutions, as well as most businesses, were forced to close their physical doors, the Center’s staff worked to prepare for the reopening. In addition to installing hand sanitizing stations throughout the building, thoroughly cleaning all aspects of the facility, and removing furniture that might harbor germs, the staff developed a set of protocols to keep everyone safe from COVID-19. Those protocols include checking temperatures of people entering the building, requiring masks, limiting class sizes, and requiring registration for classes, fitness time, and other activities. Throughout April and May, the JCC’s instructors and physical trainers continued to work with members first through virtual fitness opportunities, and then, with outdoor classes and training. Virtual cultural, children, and family programs continue to expand nearly every day. “We have been thrilled with the popularity of our new offerings and plan to continue to include these programs for our members for the foreseeable future,” says Levin. jewishnewsva.org | June 8, 2020 | Jewish News | 5
Ruth’s Life Said a Lot About Her
simon Family JCC
At the J, contactless training is an exercise in reinvention
As a “pink lady” Ruth Goodman volunteered more hours than anyone else at the Norfolk hospital where she greeted visitors for years.
T Before she died in 1995, Ruth arranged for a Hampton Roads Community Foundation bequest to forever give good health to the community she and her late husband Victor loved. This year 15 students are studying to become physicians, physical therapists, nurses and other medical professionals thanks to scholarships generated by Ruth’s generosity. Many more Goodman Scholars will follow every year. Write your prescription for a better future by ordering a free bequest guide. Learn how easy it is to leave a gift for charity. Adding Charity to Your W or IRA ill
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ires on cars, in parking lots, is so 2019. Pandemic life touches just about everything and everyone. Some of the efforts to adapt produce marvel-inducing change. When COVID-19 struck and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s ruling made it no longer possible to use the Simon Family JCC’s state-of-the-art fitness facility, Tom Purcell, Wellness director, and his team of instructors and trainers began to improvise. Their first step was to produce a series of fitness videos and conduct online classes so that members at home could workout with the instructors they are accustomed to spending their exercise time with. And, then, as soon as the governor allowed classes to take place outside, Purcell and the JCC fitness staff quickly adapted and learned that tires in parking lots make more sense for bootcamp style step-ups and spinning, than they do on cars. At the Sandler Family Campus, cars are currently diverted so that the scenic Lake Sandler-facing parking lot is now the JCC fitness stage for Spin, Stretch, Body Pump, HIIT, Zumba, Line Dancing, and Bootcamp classes, among others. Instructors whiz around loudly cueing members to execute a mix of cardio and stamina moves with bikes, ladders, barbells—and tires. As the first phase of re-opening progressed, Newport News native, lifelong runner and longtime JCC member Howard Roesen gradually eased back to work seeing patients as a foot and ankle specialist. Even with multiple obstacles, Roesen sees the JCC in a unique position to rebound from lockdown. “You can take a challenging class virtually from home, or you can go outside and get a good workout,” he says. “It’s great how Tom and his staff were able to convert a large paved parking lot into a fitness facility.
Evan and Howard Roesen.
They have the right space and spirit to offer members virtual, interactive, and outdoor classes. Most gyms in this area don’t have that.” Pushing a weighted tire even a short distance requires agility, but so does keeping clients in shape and steering members online and to outdoor classes that are weather-proofed and virus resistant. “I was lucky to find my life’s joy over 20 years ago. Working with clients in the fitness industry, being trusted to help people in this capacity has been a
tremendous benefit to my own self-esteem and confidence,” says Purcell. One could say Purcell has been training his whole life for this moment. “Challenges motivate me. There’s always a way around the obstacle. I like to embrace them and tackle them as opportunities to grow stronger and better.” One of those clients is Norfolk attorney Brian Sykes. They met when Purcell worked at the Norfolk Yacht Club and Sykes, a runner, had a broken leg. An injured runner is a cause that Purcell, also
simon Family JCC an avid runner can get behind. “I was in a really bad place. Tom brought me back fast,” says Sykes. “He has a special gift for motivating people. He embodies a healthy lifestyle, and he gets in your head in a way that makes you want to do better. You just know he’s invested in your success.” Purcell and Sykes came to the J together. In May, Sykes completed several virtual sessions with Purcell. “I was hesitant at first, but was also very unmotivated on my own and I knew that this COVID thing wasn’t ending anytime soon. It was so much better than what I expected. Tom has to do the exercises with you…it’s almost as good as having him in person. He’s probably in the best shape of his life. My daughter did one of the sessions with me and said, ‘that guy is so jacked!” It will take a lot more than a virus to break the bond between Purcell and his long-time clients. The success of virtual training may come as a surprise to some, even those who experienced it to the fullest. “In March, the impact of coronavirus was devastating. The gym was closed and I was afraid that I would lose all of the gains that I had made over the past 14 months. However, a member of the group introduced us to Google Hangouts,” says Joe Siqueira, a JCC member. “Now, we
work out three days a week under Tom’s watchful eye. We do not have weights, so he has us use our body weight for resistance. We perform pushups, dips, planks, jumping jacks to name a few exercises. He regularly changes up the routine to continuously challenge us. We did 100 pushups yesterday. I’m over 60 and I never imagined doing this. My knee didn’t touch the ground once!” Chantel Kushner, another member who says he lifts heavy so that he can pick up bags of salt to put into his pool and his 30 pounds of dog food bags, says that “Having Tom train me has been invaluable. I have big dogs, mastiffs that weigh 145 and 160 pounds. Sometimes I need to be able to lift them. Tom makes sure I can do these things safely. His goal is to make sure my body and heart are healthy so I can enjoy my retirement years when I get there.” Kushner is part of small group that meets at 5:30 am every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through Google Hangouts to keep up with workouts. “Even though we are working out in living rooms and garages with him, he keeps it interesting and gives us different workouts each morning.” For JCC member Diana Nadell, the fact that Purcell makes sure she does exercises safely and correctly and stays
within her limits is important. “Tom can adjust me in real time, which makes virtual live training different than doing it on my own.” JCC members Howard Roesen and son Evan look forward to getting back to the gym as soon as it opens. Until then, Roesen says he is ready to try something new such as pickleball and
outdoor spinning. He accepted and completed Evan’s bold challenge to run four miles, every four hours, for 48 hours. Running through the night proves just how seriously they take their workouts. “Virtual classes can be very challenging and intense, which is good news for all of us, because I think they’re going to be around for a while.”
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Fierce forces of human nature: Local congregations rise to the occasion Lisa Richmon
ommunity leadership calls for more than soliciting donors and volunteers who buy into your vision. Patti Wainger and Dorianne Villani recently passed an overnight crash course on the contact-free fight against local food insecurity. Together with members of their respective congregations from Congregation Beth El and Ohef Sholom Temple, and a core
group of military volunteers, everyone learned that getting food to people during a pandemic is extra challenging, essential—and gratifying. Villani operates the soup kitchen at OST, a decade-long feeding fixture that was shuttered due to COVID-19. Before that time, the delivery of a five-course meal, and haircuts on the side, was standard fare. Inspired to return to serving others safely, Villani created an outdoor
The volunteers are: Tony DiSilvestro, YNot owner; Patti Wainger, event coordinator; Mary Allsbrook, CBN; Ramona Farrow, Park Place School volunteer; Kevin Speers, volunteer project media director; Joe Costa, YNot Pizza.
Two pairs of socks were offered to each guest at Ohef Sholom Temple’s grab-and-go lunch.
8 | Jewish News | June 8, 2020 | jewishnewsva.org
grab-and-go lunch stand on Monday, May 24. All food was packaged by volunteers, similar to the contact-free restaurant curbside model. “I’ve been really blessed with a lot of partnerships and relationships that have grown out of our soup kitchen,” says Villani. “We’ve been fortunate to have the support of over 20 military commands over the years. They are always very eager to be of service, but even more so now. We also have a partnership with Bombas socks which enabled us to give each person two pairs of socks with their lunch package.” In an interview with WAVY-TV, one of the sailors who volunteered described the energy as infectious. “It’s so true,” says Villani. “People were happy to help in any way, even if it was just spritzing hand sanitizer or guiding people through the lines. My goal is to scale this and do it more often so that people have their safe place when things don’t feel very safe.” Later that same week, on Friday May 29, Beth El member and community organizer Patti Wainger launched a drive-thru food fest for 240 school families. The Park Place School is a tuition-free, donorfunded school that rents space from Beth El. “There is nothing that the school needs that Beth El doesn’t try to make
happen,” says Wainger, a committed volunteer and visionary. “I’m a food writer and I know food. Before COVID, Mercy Chefs delivered magnificent meals to these children. Breakfast and lunch. Steak, salmon, fresh fruit, and vegetables. Nothing institutional. It was exquisite. When school closed due to COVID, the principal said the students really need a hot meal. People are without jobs and kids are hungry. That’s what they would appreciate.” Wainger turned ‘How can we make this happen?’ into a drive-thru, hot food delivery popup on Fridays from 3 pm to 5 pm. Beth El member and volunteer Lisa Delevie picked up food. Beth El provided a tent to shade the volunteers, of which there were only 10 for safe distancing. The Shirley Avenue parking lot became the distribution site. With help and donations from Beth El members, CBN, Y-not pizza, Gourmet Gang, Mercy Chefs, and Krispy Kreme, Wainger got the goods and the attention of World Central Kitchen, a brainchild of chef Jose Andres and Pharrell Williams. World Central Kitchen is on board to sponsor the next five weekly Friday events. “I never thought I would get World Central Kitchen and such an accomplished culinarian as Travis Walker, but then again we never thought a crisis would force us to feed people in this way.”
Volunteers at Ohef Sholom Temple’s grab-and-go lunch.
‘I’m not angry at all’: Owner of looted Chicago photo shop vows to rebuild
Hundreds of Israelis, angry with police violence at home, protest the George Floyd killing in Tel Aviv
(JTA)—Don Flesch managed to grab just one item from his downtown Chicago camera shop as it went up in flames Saturday night: the antique Kodak that was the first camera his grandfather sold after he opened the store in 1899. But Flesch said he harbored no ill will toward the people who looted and burned Central Camera amid sweeping demonstrations sparked by the killing of a black man by a Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day. “I’m not angry at all,” Flesch says. “I’m upset that people didn’t stay with Black Lives Matter. That’s why this whole thing started to come about.” Central Camera, located in the shadow of an elevated train on South Wabash Avenue, just blocks from Chicago’s storied Art Institute, is one of several notable Jewish-owned businesses to sustain damage in weekend demonstrations. In Los Angeles, the historically Jewish Fairfax district was an epicenter of protest, while a kosher Israeli restaurant was damaged in Washington, D.C. Like many of the other owners, Flesch has expressed solidarity with the protesters and has vowed to rebuild his store. He’s getting assistance from the legions of camera aficionados who have donated to a crowdfunding campaign, which had netted nearly $140,000 by Monday, June 2. But some of what was lost will be impossible to restore, including rare cameras and relics from Central Camera’s 121-year history. The store has been a fixture of downtown Chicago for that time, its distinctive neon sign flashing above the storefront the shop has occupied since the 1920s. It’s just a block away from where Flesch’s grandfather, Albert, opened his camera store on East Adams Street in 1899. Albert Flesch had fled his native Hungary as a teenager rather than consent to forced conscription in the army. Instead he walked to Italy, boarded a boat for Ellis Island and then hopped a train for Chicago. He landed his first job
in 1895 in the camera department at the Siegel-Cooper department store on State Street. Four years later he opened Central Camera. He would run the store for more than five decades, until his death from a heart attack in 1953. Three years after the shop opened, Albert Flesch was one of the first white shopkeepers in downtown Chicago to hire a black man for a retail position when he put a tall AfricanAmerican named George to work behind the counter. After Albert Flesch died, the store passed to his sons—Flesch’s father, Harold, and brother Stanley. Flesch would help out on Saturdays while he was in elementary school, and his role expanded as he got older. He started full-time work at the store in 1968. At one point, there were so many Flesch men working there that they began referring to each other by their first initials. Flesch’s mother’s family, the Leibermans, came from Poland, and the family lived in Hyde Park on Chicago’s South Side, where they attended Sinai Congregation, the oldest Reform synagogue in the city. Flesch married an Israeli woman who shared his interest in photography and the couple had two children before divorcing. On Saturday night, Flesch was at home in suburban Skokie when he learned that alarms were going off at Central Camera. He arrived downtown nearly an hour later, watching helplessly from across the street as looters ransacked the place. “People were just coming in and out, going in with nothing and coming out with something,” he says. “I didn’t like it, but I couldn’t stop it. And I wasn’t going to try to stop it.” Neither Flesch’s twin brother Ronald, an architect, nor his two kids have shown any interest in taking over the family business, and Flesch isn’t sure what will happen to the three-generation company when it’s time for him to retire. In the meantime, he’s vowing to rebuild.
TEL AVIV (JTA)—As Kielahtiel Barton stood across from the former American embassy here, on a sidewalk next to a downtown beach, a large crowd around her chanted slogans calling for racial equality. “Why am I here? I’m black as hell and my skin color is the first thing that people see about me, especially in Israel,” Barton says. A Jewish immigrant from the New York City borough of Queens, Barton was among the hundreds of Israelis who took to the streets of Tel Aviv to protest the killing of George Floyd. The protesters—a mix of Israelis, including Ethiopian Jews and AfricanAmerican immigrants—compared the situation in Israel to that in the United States, reading out lists of the names they said were victims of police brutality. They screamed slogans like “No justice, no peace” and “Solomon Tekah, the last victim”—a reference to the death of an Ethiopian-Israeli teenager shot by an offduty police officer last year. They also called for justice for Iyad Halak, 32, an autistic Palestinian man who was shot and killed by Israeli Border Police last month. Defense Minister Benny Gantz has apologized for the shooting and one of the officers involved was placed under house arrest. A second was released from police custody and placed under restrictive conditions. Many of the African-American immigrants who spoke at the rally described a sense of helplessness in the face of violence, but also of a resolve to push for change. Barton says she was scared for her siblings back in New York, all of whom had joined the protests there, which in some areas had turned violent. Her sentiment was repeated by others with family in the U.S. “I want you to pay attention to how
f****ing long this list of names is that we are about to read,” organizer Gavriel Chichester, an African-American Jewish man originally from Washington, D.C., told the demonstrators through a megaphone. “Imagine moving across the world, making aliyah to Israel and being worried halfway across the world if your little black brothers are gonna die at home and you can’t go f***ing see them.” “Black lives,” he screamed, almost crying. “Matter,” the crowd chanted back. Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis hit many black Israelis hard. Last summer, tens of thousands here took to the streets to protest Tekah’s death. His killing came six months after Yehuda Biadga, 24, a mentally ill Ethiopian Israeli, was shot and killed by police who say he charged an officer while brandishing a knife. His death led to demonstrations throughout Tel Aviv. In May 2015, similar protests erupted following the beating of an EthiopianIsraeli soldier by two police officers that was filmed and widely distributed. Those protests devolved into riots in which police officers fired stun grenades, water cannons and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, who threw rocks and glass bottles at police and also vandalized some storefronts. More than 144,000 Jews of Ethiopian descent live in Israel. The Ethiopian community has long complained of racial discrimination, especially at the hands of law enforcement. Ethiopian soldiers are sent to military prison at a disproportionately higher rate than other groups and are arrested in civilian life at a higher rate than the general population. “We see this daily in Israel,” says protester Masagnu Amsalo, an Ethiopian Jew. “We couldn’t sleep when we saw this police racism. It’s here and in the U.S. Yesterday it happened in the United States and tomorrow it’ll be here in Israel.”
jewishnewsva.org | June 8, 2020 | Jewish News | 9
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he final stages of the new mikvah project at 425 Washington Park are nearly complete, with late June as the projected opening. Then, with a little bit of mazel, and a lot of rain, the existing Norfolk mikvah will get its much-awaited renovation. Staying the course on the new mikvah Tile is prepared in the Mikvah. construction project depends on a key, critical element—the exact flow of pure rainwater to fill the boros—which will be introduced to the pool water for purification processes according to Jewish Law. Earlier this month, the focus was on finishing details such as vanities, cabinets, plumbing, and tiling. Gutters are the last piece of the puzzle. “Both mikvahs, G-d willing, should be finished by Rosh Hashanah,” says Kevin Lefcoe. The new mikvah will have to pass a month-long test drive to make sure all the kinks are out, and everything operates as intended. Once that objective is fulfilled, the mikvah will offer a nearly spa-like setting for Jewish women Bathroom in the Mikvah. in Tidewater—allowing them to connect to one of the oldest Jewish traditions. “People from all denominations of Judaism in Tidewater have contributed generously and meaningfully, making the rebuilding of the mikvah a true community project,” says Barb Gelb, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater director of development. The Mikvah.
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Supplement to Jewish News June 8, 2020 jewishnewsva.org | June 8, 2020 | Fatherâ€™s Day | Jewish News | 11
Dads & Grads Dear Readers,
ou know how we always joke about the High Holidays never being on time? With
R I S T O R A N T E I N S P I R E D
I T A LY
that thought it mind, it appears that Father’s Day this year is perfectly on time. That’s
because the Commonwealth of Virginia is just allowing beaches, zoos, museums, restaurants, and gyms to open…all fun activities to do with dads. One of the best reasons that Father’s Day is ‘more on time’ this year, however, might be a benefit of COVID-19. Now, more than under normal circumstances, families are in one place, in one home—including adult children who are normally out-of-state—so dads get to actually be with their kids on Father’s Day, on Sunday, June 21. Within this section, we pay homage to dads in a variety of ways, including a brief piece on the late Jerry Stiller, whose favorite role was Jewish Dad. Last month, Leslie Siegel’s father passed away at the age of 95. For Father’s Day, she wrote a piece honoring his life, one that was so well-lived. It is on page 16. Dad Jokes are laughed at literally and figuratively these days. One Israeli, now living in Chicago, is having a particularly good time telling them. His story is on page 18. For the Class of 2020, graduation was not on time. In fact, for most, it didn’t even happen. These students didn’t have the opportunity to properly say goodbye to their classmates and teachers or to clear out their lockers or dorm rooms. They didn’t experience the excitement of hearing Pomp and Circumstance, wearing their cap and gown, and watching their proud parents watch them. Still, these students did earn diplomas, even
without ceremony. On page 14 we recognize a few of these graduates.
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12 | Jewish News | Father’s Day | June 8, 2020 | jewishnewsva.org
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Dads & Grads Actor Jerry Stiller’s Favorite Role? Proud Jewish Dad. Lior Zaltzman
erry Stiller, who died on May 11 at age 92 from natural causes, was an unforgettable comedic talent. Beyond the hilarious roles that he’ll always be remembered for—most notably as George Costanza’s father, Frank, on Seinfeld—he was, above all, an extraordinarily loving Jewish dad of two. Gerald Isaac Stiller had a profoundly Jewish upbringing in Brooklyn and, later, the Lower East Side. His mother’s family came from Frampol, Poland—where Isaac Bashevis Singer also hails from. His father immigrated from Galicia and became a taxi driver, and later a bus driver, in New York. He was also a lover of vaudeville and took his young son to see shows. As a student in Seward High School in the Lower East Side, where Zero Mostel and other famous comedians also
attended, one of Stiller’s first acting roles was playing Adolf Hitler. “The show was called Hitler Goes to Heaven,” Stiller told EmmyAwardInterviews, and he “got a lot of laughs.” His rise to fame started as an act of love. Stiller and his unlikely girlfriend— and later wife of 60-plus years—Anne Meara, a tall, redheaded Irish woman, created a comedy act based upon their opposites-attract relationship. Stiller and Meara, as the duo was known, became a household name in the 1960s. They were frequent guests on the Ed Sullivan Show and they performed in Las Vegas and appeared in successful commercials. Even if their audiences were neither Jewish nor Irish, many couples who came from different backgrounds related to their story. At a time where intermarriage was still largely considered taboo, the two gave so many the laughter
and validation they craved. Notably, while Meara, who passed away in 2015, kept her last name, she did convert to Judaism before their children—Amy, 58, and Ben, 54—were born (“so they would know where they came from”). The family wasn’t very religious, but they celebrated Jewish holidays and Ben was bar mitzvahed. Stiller and Meara retired their act by 1970. But Stiller experienced a resurgence of fame later in life when he was cast as Frank Costanza on Seinfeld. At first, the character was supposed to be meek and quiet, but at the last minute, Stiller decided to improvise, creating the loud and argumentative dad we came to know and love in the iconic 1990s sitcom. While Stiller was featured in less than 30 episodes, his character was truly iconic and he was nominated for an Emmy for the role.
Despite all of Stiller’s successes, the role of his lifetime was, by his own admission, that of a father. “You’ll always know if I’m in the audience when Ben or our daughter, Amy, is performing,” he told Esquire in 2005. “I’m the one laughing loudest.” Ben Stiller—himself a Jewish father of two—recalls his childhood as unusual but idyllic in its own way: “We got to stay up late and go to TV studios. It was like this fun fantasyland. But we had no idea how hard they worked.” While Stiller did not want his kids to go into entertainment because he feared the rejection, he became his children’s biggest fans. The kind of adoration Stiller felt for his kids is palpable in every photograph of him with his children. He seems thrilled—in awe, even—every time he looks at them.
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jewishnewsva.org | June 8, 2020 | Father’s Day | Jewish News | 13
Dads & Grads
Mazel Tov to the Class of 2020! G
raduation ceremonies and celebrations for the Class of 2020, whether for high school, college, or graduate school, came to a screeching halt because of COVID-19. Another casualty of the pandemic. Still, imaginative celebrations took place via ZOOM, drive-by parades, and streaming, among other methods…all with far less pomp and circumstance…but with plenty of creativity and emotion. Jewish News celebrates all graduates, in addition to those recognized here. Mazel Tov to the Class of 2020 on your accomplishments and achievements!
Asher Baum SCHOOL: Norfolk Academy DEGREE: High School Diploma HONORS: Varsity Soccer— high scorer, senior season SPECIAL NOTES: BBYO officer (local and regional), Girl Up Club PLANS: University of Maryland, College Park PARENTS: Elena and Gary Baum
Kacey Cooper PARENTS: Pam and David Blais School: Norfolk Academy Degree: High School Diploma Honors: Honor Roll student for entire Norfolk Academy career Special Notes (Activities): 4-year Varsity Soccer, 3-year Varsity Volleyball, Medical Scholars Program, Internship Virginia Oncology, Peer Counselor, China Exchange Program Plans: Attending Washington & Lee University in Fall 2020 Parents: Betsy and Erik Cooper Kacey Cooper.
Adam Epstein Asher Baum.
Sarah Blais SCHOOL: Cape Henry Collegiate DEGREE: High School Diploma with honors HONORS: Faculty Award for academic excellence SPECIAL NOTES: National Honor Society, peer tutor, studied classical ballet PLANS: James Madison University, majoring in biology
SCHOOL: University of Virginia DEGREE: Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and Sociology) SPECIAL NOTES: FeelGood, raising money to support anti-poverty programs. PLANS: Continuing with education. PARENTS: Chris and Sam Epstein
Adam Epstein. Sarah Blais.
SCHOOL: Boston University DEGREE: Bachelor of Arts HONORS: Summa Cum Laude; College of Communication Blue Chip Award recipient SPECIAL NOTES: Brooks Family Scholarship for Excellence in Jewish Studies, BU Admissions Ambassador PARENTS: Terri and Steve Budman
School: Hyde School, Bath Maine Degree: High School Diploma Special Notes (Activities): Varsity Cross Country, Prep Basketball, Varsity Lacrosse, Dorm Captain Plans: James Madison University Parents: Stephanie and Paul Peck
14 | Jewish News | Father’s Day | June 8, 2020 | jewishnewsva.org
Dads & Grads Audrey Peck School: Norfolk Academy Degree: High School Diploma Honors: Cum Laude Society, Batten Leadership Program Literacy Fellow Special Notes (Activities): Varsity Volleyball, Varsity Basketball (Co-Captain), Varsity Softball (Co-Captain) Plans: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Parents: Stephanie and Paul Peck
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arah Blais, Tia Einhorn, Jordan Familant, Leora Friedman, Elizabeth Hughes, Daniel Krell, Sam Lederman, Rose Lefcoe, Emily Myers, Audrey Peck, Jonathan Peck, Micah Shachet-Briskin, Joshua Schwarz, Rachael Stromberg, Sanni Wagenaar, Shoshanah Zysman SIA’s Class of 2013 will attend: College of Charleston, College of Wooster, James Madison University, Old Dominion University, Seminar in Jerusalem, Shenandoah Musical Theater Program, Tulane University, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and Virginia Commonwealth
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jewishnewsva.org | June 8, 2020 | Father’s Day | Jewish News | 15
Dads & Grads First Person
A hero lost, but forever loved: Stan Smolen Leslie Siegel
hen my sister Lynn and I were young, Daddy was our hero. As we grew up and learned his stories we realized he was an American hero, too. Our precious father, Stan Smolen, died last month at the age of 95. He was a veteran of WWII who served his country proudly. He was a courageous 19-year-old First Lieutenant Navigator in the Army Air Corp flying 35 missions on a B-17 Bomber. But most importantly, he was the patriarch of our family. Our father was born on February 12, 1925, to parents who had immigrated from Russia to escape anti-Semitism. He grew up in Philadelphia with two older sisters, and they lived a modest, but comfortable life until the Great Depression. Daddy always told us the family moved every time the rent was due. We thought he was kidding, but it was probably not far from the truth. When my grandfather lost his business, they were forced to make many moves and ultimately had to
break up the family and live with three different relatives for a year. Eventually, with the offer of work, they reunited and moved to Washington, DC. This move changed Daddy’s life forever, when at a high school Jewish fraternity party, he was introduced to a very beautiful 15-year-old, named Patricia Rose. That night, 17-year-old Stan told Rose he was going to marry her someday. Daddy’s family was very passionate about being Americans. Therefore, when the United States entered the war, Stan who was a student at George Washington University, immediately signed up to serve. Knowing he wanted to fly and be an officer, Stan signed up for the Army Air Corps, which eventually became the Air Force. After a year of training, he graduated as a Navigator and became part of a 10-man crew of a B-17 bomber destined for the European front. At age 19, my father navigated his crew across the Atlantic Ocean using radio signals from Greenland and Iceland and the stars as his guide. He used to marvel that today’s
Stan Smolen with his great grandchildren.
16 | Jewish News | Father’s Day | June 8, 2020 | jewishnewsva.org
golfers use GPS to get to the next hole. The crew, based near London, became his family and during the 35 combat missions over France, Germany, and Czechoslovakia, they depended on each other for their existence. During their missions, they suffered broken wings spinning out of control pinning them to seats and walls, and being hit con1st Lieutenant, Stan Smolen. stantly with flack and bullets breaking windows and damaging the exterior. Their most dangerous mission was when they crashlanded in Brussels. Their engine was hit during a bombing near Frankfort creating a fire. While they prepared to eject, the pilot was eventually able to land. It might have been a situation where they could have been captured by the Germans, but the British had liberated Belgium the previous day. Wedding Day of Pat and Stan Smolen. They entered a city told him how every time a B-17 formation in celebration and were probably the first flew over they would cheer and jump and Americans there. wave. Many decades later my dad heard Kitty My father finished his bombing misSaks’ story at the opening of the Holocaust sions and returned to America in 1945 at Commission’s What We Carry program the age of 19 as a First Lieutenant with a and looked forward to meeting her and distinguished Flying Cross and an Oak exchanging memories of that day they Leaf Cluster air medal. Now that he was unknowingly shared. The day they met, finally home, he proposed to the girl of his they shared memories, hugs, and tears. dreams, Patricia Rose, and they truly lived My dad also had the privilege of “happily ever after.” meeting Bill Jucksch, one of our local couAfter finishing his service, he began rageous liberators. We spent a morning in his career in men’s retailing. Moving from Bill’s room filled with WWII memories. a stock boy at 15 to a buyer and then Sharing war stories, like old friends, Bill
Dads & Grads to president and CEO of 4 major men’s’ stores, including Shulman’s in Norfolk. Lynn and I grew up in the beautiful city of Asheville, N.C. where we had a wonderful Jewish community that we were all very active in. Daddy was president of the JCC and B’nai Brith, in addition to many business and civic organizations. Our household was always filled with love and my father’s amazing laugh. When we left for college, my parents moved to Norfolk, which eventually caused us and our husbands, Larry Siegel and Jerry Hankin, to move to Virginia Beach. Lynn and I built homes next door to one another, inspired by our parent’s love of family staying close. Here we raised our children, two girls each. After our parents’ moves to Buffalo and Chicago, they retired to Virginia Beach to join our growing families. Our parents loved to travel together. To celebrate their 60th anniversary, they took an around-the-world 66-day cruise. Over the years they had visited every continent!
Eventually, all their granddaughters got married and had kids of their own and all moved back to Virginia Beach. Pat and Stan loved their time watching their great grandchildren grow up and were an active part of their lives. Our Pat and Stan celebrating his birthday with their children and grandchildren. beloved mother passed away a wonderful sense of humor, a teller of He mentored and consulted with small six years ago and although we thought great stories, a giver of warm hugs, always business owners for many years after our father would die of a broken heart, greeting with a kiss on both cheeks. He retirement. His one regret was the advice he instead put his immense love and was loved by everyone who met him. he gave to a young tie salesman telling strength into his family and made a new Stan Smolen was a man of many him not to go into designing clothes since life for himself at Atlantic Shores. At the names: Daddy to myself and Lynn. Dad he was doing a great job selling ties. His age of 90, he became a writer and would to our husbands’ Larry and Jerry. Poppa name was Ralph Lauren. At 92, my father spend hours at his computer writing his Stan to his grandchildren, Shaye and called Nordstrom with some customer autobiography, as well as incredible stoGlen Arluk, Kari Amuial, Megan and service ideas. Mr. Nordstrom took the ries about the war, travels with Pat, and Steve Zuckerman, and Ryan and Dan call personally, and they chatted for 45 the bond of family. Miller. Best of all he was just Poppy to his minutes. My father loved to celebrate all of 10 adoring great grandchildren, Brianna, After a trip to St. Petersburg, he wrote his granddaughters’ weddings, two great Madison, Dylan, Jordan, Devon, Jonah, to the Kremlin about how they could granddaughters going to college, and Chloe, Cameron, Molly, and Jackson. improve the gift shop at the Hermitage. attended and spoke at four great grandFinally, to his Country, his name was He never received a response! children’s B’nai mitzvahs. Hero. My father was a man of much wisdom, My dad always had advice and ideas.
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Dads & Grads This Israeli’s daily ‘dad jokes’ are making his Chicago neighbors laugh during dark times Philissa Cramer
(JTA)—Monday morning, June 2, marked the first time in months that Yair Bernstein thought twice about making his neighbors laugh. The previous night, his city of Chicago and many others across the United States were convulsed by demonstrations against police brutality that in places lapsed into looting and clashes between police and protesters. It was hard for Bernstein to see a role for the task he took on shortly after he began staying home because of the coronavirus pandemic: posting daily “dad jokes” in the window of his basement apartment. But he ultimately decided to press on, choosing a groaner for the day’s poster, the 37th in his series: “I would like to be a millionaire just like my dad. He also wanted to be a millionaire.” “I’m not a funny person,” says Bernstein, an Israeli who moved to Chicago five years ago to teach Hebrew and Judaic studies at Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School. Still, his jokes—which he finds online, including on an app called, quite literally, Dad Jokes—have drawn the attention of neighbors and even the Chicago Tribune. We chatted with the Jerusalem native and father of two young children about what inspired his project, his favorite jokes and how humor can help us in trying times. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. JTA: When did you get the idea for your project, and what has the reaction been? Bernstein: The idea came from a friend who was doing it in a different neighborhood. She was doing it on her lawn. I realized I could do it in my window—I don’t have a lawn, unfortunately. I started posting them one day, and I decided to number them—I didn’t know how long I’m going to do it for, but it became a habit. I didn’t know that people were reading them. But slowly it was clear that people were enjoying them—they were passing by, stopping, laughing and taking pictures. That made me realize that it was
important to people, so I’ve continued doing it. We’re at 37 today. I knew that I wanted to collect and post them all over the school when we go back to school. But I didn’t know I would have so many—I don’t know if they’re all going to fit.
Bernstein: Today was the first time I thought I didn’t want to do it. But then I thought to myself this is exactly the reason people want to see it. Things are not so good now, and people are looking for something different, something to make them feel a little better.
JTA: Jews are famously funny. What’s Jewish about this project for you? Bernstein: Being an educator in a Jewish community and a Jewish person, I grew up looking to live a more meaningful life and trying to make the world a better place. The phrase tikkun olam, American Jews really believe in it. I think this fits into that. I can only do what I can do. In the state that I have in my life, I can’t give big [donations], but I can make some people feel better—I think I can do that.
JTA: You teach Hebrew and Judaic studies. What has that been like online, and how do you use humor in the classroom? Bernstein: Our school started planning and thinking about it a while in advance, so we put a plan in place early to transition our content. We got used to it. . I’m not a funny person, but I recognize funny things. I respond well to sarcasm, which is good for working with teenagers. It’s not like I would come into the classroom with a joke ready, but students know to expect a fun time with me. It’s important as an educator. it’s going to be OK. We’ve been through harder things, even though it doesn’t feel like that.
JTA: This week, laughter feels farther away. How are you thinking about your project now?
JTA: Have you considered going back to Israel over the last couple of difficult months? Bernstein: My wife and I came to work as shlichim [emissaries] for three years, which we then extended to five. And then at the end of five we decided we have more to do here. The World Zionist Organization was not happy: We were supposed to bring modern Hebrew and Jewish studies to a school here and then come back home. We are still planning to do that at some point—we just don’t know when. It’s going to be OK. We’ve been through harder things, even though it doesn’t feel like that. JTA: What’s been your favorite joke from this project? Bernstein: I liked the one from today. But also this one: Unfortunately since the quarantine, I can only tell inside jokes.
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what’s happening Town Hall with Congresswoman Elaine Luria Wednesday, June 10, 12 pm, via ZOOM, Free
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Strelitz International Academy Graduating Class of 2020
gainst the Backdrop of COVID-19, Congresswoman Elaine Luria, representing Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, will discuss how Congress is dealing with the new COVID-19 reality and its effects on the Tidewater community, as well as the opportunities and impact on the U.S.-Israel relationship. The event is presented by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Community Relations Council. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the importance of having strong international partners that the United States can depend on during a crisis. Israel is one such partner and has been working closely with the U.S. on a range of responses to combat COVID-19 including vaccines, testing, and therapeutics. Elaine Luria. Against the backdrop of COVID, Congress is working to extend the U.N. Arms Embargo on Iran and encouraging continued support for the U.S. and Israel against illegitimate attacks by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Explore these topics and more with Congresswoman Luria during a Q&A session.
These students will be attending the following Middle Schools: Academy for Discovery at Lakewood • Bridgeway Academy Cape Henry Collegiate • Kempsville Middle School Norfolk Academy • Old Donation School
Free and open to the community, pre-registration is required. The Zoom link will be sent to registrants via email before the online event. Register at JewishVa.org. Contact Megan Zuckerman, CRC director at MZuckerman@ujft.org for more information.
Jewish Fellowship for young adults Applications accepted beginning June 15 NADAV FRIED
OVID-19 might have stalled summer plans, but that doesn’t mean that summer has to come to a standstill. Jewish Federations of North America just announced the launch of Jewish Changemakers, an opportunity for Jewish adults, age 20-25, to get three weeks of premier leadership training amd networking—all 100% online and scheduled with flexibility. Apply beginning June 15 for the #JewishChangemakersFellowship and earn $500. Learn more about this valuable experience at www.jewishchangemakers.org.
Strelitz International Academy Fifth Grade Graduation has been rescheduled to June 30, 2020 at 1 pm. Please contact SIA for more information: 757-424-4327
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Obituaries Barry Steven Comess Richmond—Barry Steven Comess, one of life’s greatest characters, passed away on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, following a prolonged battle with cardiovascular disease at the end of his 75th year. Cheers to Barry for a life well-lived! Barry is survived by his brother, Allan Comess; sister, Loretta Cohen; nieces, Rachelle Millison, Jill Comess, and Jennifer Thomas; nephews, William Comess and Benjamin Thomas; in-laws, John and Rebecca Thomas; son, Max William Comess; daughter-in-law, Ashley Comess; and wife of nearly 37 years, Patricia Comess, whose unwavering commitment of love, devotion, and support for Barry is truly beyond compare. Barry would remark how lucky he was to have met Pat and the privilege of living with her by his side. Barry was born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1944, son of Max and Sara Comess (Mandel), of blessed memory. After graduating from Maury High School, he moved to Richmond to attend the University of Richmond, earning his law degree from the T.C. Williams School of Law in 1968. Barry served his country in the U.S. Coast Guard and continued to serve as a Commonwealth’s Attorney in the City of Richmond. In 1974, he joined Thomas F. Coates III in the founding of Coates and Comess, a prominent Richmond law firm that today operates as Coates and Davenport. As an attorney, Barry defended and prosecuted a wide variety of cases throughout Virginia, ultimately specializing in family law. He retired from the practice of law in the mid-1990s
to devote himself to his family and his growing commercial real estate portfolio, which included hotels, apartments, and shopping centers from Virginia to Florida in partnerships with the Comess, Diamonstein, and Economos families. Barry received the greatest satisfaction in life from his family and friends. Always quick with a joke or story and with a personality larger than life, Barry would fill the room and magnetically befriend people from all walks of life. You could call Barry a lot of things, but “late for a good time” was not one of them. A member of the Westwood Racquet Club, Temple Beth El, and the Philadelphia Quarry Club, Barry was happiest to partake in social outings with his closest friends: holding court at his daily coffee meetings, on cruise ships around the world and with his longstanding lunch, poker, and tennis groups. Barry was an active and influential member of Richmond’s Jewish community, where he supported many local organizations and initiatives throughout his life, often anonymously. Barry shared that many of his fondest memories were in his role as a father: attending activities as a Collegiate School and Cornell University parent, coaching baseball at Tuckahoe Little League and spending meaningful and encouraging time with his son and his son’s friends, developing close personal connections and providing wisdom and mentorship to numerous young men and women. Barry lived life as a man of principal who always tried to do the righteous, fair, and honorable thing, even if that put him at odds with the mainstream.
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Meanwhile he reminded us, above all else, to live a life of balance, have a healthy sense of humor and to be a mensch. He will be remembered to so many as a brother or father figure, valued law and business partner, avid fisherman on Lake Anna, renowned Caesar Salad chef, skilled Blackjack player, clever prankster, advocate for rescue animals including his beloved dogs, Willie and Glock, deeply patriotic American and staunch supporter of the State of Israel. Barry’s departure from life was dignified, without suffering and entirely in accordance with his wishes. A private funeral service for immediate family was conducted. A celebration of Barry’s life will be planned for family and friends later this year. Charitable donations in Barry’s memory to a cause that you feel best aligns with his and your beliefs. And remember, as Barry would say, “heaven is a glass of scotch and a good cigar.”
Donna Skwarlo Kootner Norfolk—Donna Skwarlo Kootner, 77, a long time member of Ohef Sholom Temple, passed away on May 27. Donna was a cherished member of the Knitting Club at Beth Sholom Village, making treasured blankets for the residents. She was a devoted volunteer for various activities. She was also a member of the Red Hat Society. Donna is predeceased by her husband, Alan Kootner, her brother, Michael Skwarlo, and parents, Ola Mae and Theodore Skwarlo. Left to cherish her memory are her beloved Aunt Dorothy Hix and her sister-in-law, Diane Lindsay, as well as nieces, nephews, and many cousins. Special thank you to her devoted friends, Carolyn Bethea, Teresa Canepa, Vergie McCall, and Sharon Shanker. She leaves behind her adored companion, Max, a domestic short-haired cat. A private graveside service was held in Donna’s memory, officiated by Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg. Shoshana Lis Chesapeake—Shoshana (Rosalyn) Lis, 92, of Chesapeake, Virginia, surrounded by her family, passed away of
non-COVID-related illness on May 18, 2020. Born the daughter of Louis and Ruth Ehrlich on October 30, 1927 in The Bronx, she had one brother, Theodore Ehrlich. Shoshana attended Brooklyn College and graduated from Keane College in New Jersey, with a degree in Sociology. Shoshana traveled to Israel in 1947 to fulfill her dream of living in a new, independent Jewish state. She met her husband Avraham, a native Israeli and serving in the Hagana. They married in 1949 in Jerusalem. She returned to the USA in 1952 and lived there for 31 years, raising her two daughters there. She worked as a teacher in Jewish after-school programs for 25 years. Her dedication to educating Jewish children about their religion and heritage was recognized by her colleagues and her professional associations. She and Avraham, decided to return to live in Israel in 1983 where they resided until his death in 2014. She returned to live out her life near her younger daughter Anne, in Arizona, and most recently, Virginia. Shoshana is survived by her daughters Anne (Anthony) Pellegrino, Ruth (Mark Perlis) Lis, and five grandchildren; Sam (Miriam Weiner) Pellegrino, Sarah (Jason) Wirth, Leah Pellegrino, Abigail Lis-Perlis and Alexandra Lis-Perlis. Funeral arrangements are temporarily delayed because of Shoshana’s wish to rest with Avraham, who is buried in Jerusalem. Condolences for the family can be sent to Anne Pellegrino email@example.com and Ruth Lis Rlismom@gmail.com. Contributions in Shoshana’s memory can be sent to Young Judaea/Camp Tel Yehudah or Hadassah.
Leo S. Simon Virginia Beach—Leo S. Simon passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by his family on Thursday, May 14, 2020 after a short illness. Leo was born November 17, 1927 in Norfolk, Va. to the late Sol Simon and Dora Chadwick Simon and spent most of his life in Hampton Roads. Leo is survived by his wife of 67 years,
Obituaries Gloria Flax Simon of Virginia Beach; sons, Stephen C. Simon and wife, Carol of Bettendorf, Iowa; son, Paul S. Simon and wife, Lisa of Markham, Va.; grandchildren Stephen Michael of Bettendorf, Iows, Ashley Cerritelli and husband Steven of Denver, Col. Jennifer Simon of Bettendorf, Iowa, Justin Simon of Fairfax, Va., and Emily Simon of McLean, Va. and one great grandchild, Samantha Clemens. Leo graduated from Newport News High School in 1944 and went on to spend two years in the Navy during WWII. He spent 70 years of his career in private industry for Fines Mens Shops and lastly, in the civil service working for the Navy Exchange (Nexcom) in Virginia Beach. A private service was held at Forest Lawn Cemetery officiated by Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg of Ohef Sholom Temple. HD Oliver Funeral Apts. Donations to the charity of your choice in Leo Simon’s name. Online condolences may be made at www.hdoliver.com.
Lois Lowenberg Snyder Richmond—Lois Lowenberg Snyder, 95, passed away on Saturday, May 23, 2020 in Richmond, Va. Born in Norfolk, she was the daughter of the late David and Miriam Goodman Lowenberg. She was preceded in death by her husband, Julius J. Snyder, M.D. and her brother, Lt. David Lowenberg, Jr. who died in Normandy during WWII. She was a member of Ohef Sholom Temple. She is survived by her daughter, Carol A. Snyder of Richmond and her son, Douglas S. Snyder, M.D. of Chevy Chase, Maryland. A private graveside service was conducted at Forest Lawn Cemetery with Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to Feeding America, P.O. Box. 96749, Washington, DC 20090. H. D. Oliver Funeral Apts. Thelma Saunders Steingold Norfolk—Thelma Steingold, 93, was born in Norfolk and raised in the Ghent/ West Ghent area. She was the daughter of Isaac and Rose Saunders, immigrants
who were devoted, life-long members of Congregation Beth El. After living in Florida for many years, she returned to Norfolk 2 years ago, lived at Harbor’s Edge and passed away May 21, 2020 in her apartment. She loved her short time there and perked up every time her new friend Kori came for fitness. Thelma was the ultimate “soccer mom” before that term was commonly used. In her younger years, she was keeping up with her four sons—Ira, Lawrence, Joe, and Sam. In addition to their school activities, there was always a soccer game, tennis match, piano lesson and more, where she was present. She claimed (unsubstantiated) to be the only mother in the history of Norfolk Academy to have at least one child enrolled in the school for 28 consecutive years. She continually expressed with pride the accomplishments of her children which involved leadership positions at charitable and educational organizations including Jewish
Family Service, CASA, Norfolk Academy, Jewish Museum, H.E.R Shelter, and Ohef Sholom Temple. Thelma and her husband Maurice were married for 61 years before his passing in 2010. Thelma was a graduate of Richmond Professional Institute (now VCU) in Richmond. They lived for over 20 years in Florida. In addition to their
devotion to family, they were passionate about the sport of tennis and all the friends they met along the way. She loved the social aspect of it just as much as the sporting activity. Thelma enjoyed traveling with Maurice around the world and collecting fine works of art that they could enjoy in their home. When her health didn’t permit her to play tennis, she just
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Obituaries switched to playing golf and loved that just as much for as long as she physically could. Thelma was one of five siblings born to Isaac and Rose Saunders—including Ella, Lorraine, Leonard and David. The Saunders and Fine families settled in the Norfolk area and were great in number and spirit. Family gatherings for holidays and other celebrations were frequent and meaningful. Upon her marriage to Maurice, she was welcomed into an equally big family of the Steingold/ Laibstain group. She became just as devoted to the extended Steingold families, being close throughout her life with many special nieces and nephews throughout the families. Thelma is survived by her four sons Ira, Lawrence, Joe and Sam (Trish), all in Virginia Beach; her much loved grandchildren, Michael in Tokyo, Max and Rose, both UVA-bound; and her brother Leonard in Florida. A graveside was held at Forest Lawn Cemetery with Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg officiating. Memorial contributions to Jewish Family Service, Virginia Beach CASA, or a charity of your choice.
Prominent AIDS activist Larry Kramer Larry Kramer, one of the most important figures in the history of LGBTQ activism and a writer, died on Wednesday, May 27. Kramer, who wrote the semi-autobiographical play A Normal Heart, died in Manhattan of pneumonia, his husband, David Webster, confirmed to the New York Times. He was 84. He had undergone a liver transplant after contracting liver disease and was infected with HIV, the virus that can turn into AIDS. Kramer was a co-founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, now one of the biggest AIDS service organizations in the
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world, but was forced out because of his outspokenness and went on to found the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP, a more militant group that took to the streets to protest for more AIDS drugs research and an end to discrimination against gay men and lesbians. His worldview was shaped by his Jewish identity, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency wrote in 2016. “In a way, like a lot of Jewish men of Larry’s generation, the Holocaust is a defining historical moment, and what happened in the early 1980s with AIDS felt, and was in fact, holocaustal to Larry,” Tony Kushner said in 2005. Kramer and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, crossed paths as the AIDS crisis continued to kill gay men, with Kramer calling him a killer. Fauci told the New York Times that Kramer spurred him to break through the slow federal bureaucracy that held up AIDS research. They later became friends, according to the report. In March, Kramer told a Times reporter that he emailed Fauci to tell him he was sorry for how he is being treated as the public face of the efforts to combat the coronavirus. Kramer wrote books, plays and screenplays, many with gay themes and some autobiographical. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his play The Destiny of Me, which picks up where The Normal Heart leaves off. His book, Reports for the Holocaust: The Making of an AIDS Activist, is a collection of his essays on AIDS activism and LGBT civil rights. In the weeks before his death, Kramer had started to write a play in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. He was a graduate of Yale University and enlisted in the Army. He began working for Columbia Pictures in the early 1960s. (JTA)
it’s a wrap Mystery Wine Night a huge hit for YAD during quarantine Danny Rubin, YAD chair
Zoom chat room of Young Adult Division (YAD) members was filled with clinking glasses, generous pours, and lots of laughter on Thursday, May 21. That’s because YAD hosted its first-ever, Mystery Wine Night. YADians conducted blind taste tests of four wines and competed to see who could guess each type of wine, the region of the world each bottle hails from, and the price per bottle.
The Zoom event sold out with 39 young adults attending. Even when the taste test ended (David and Maggie Glickman took home top prize), everyone stayed an extra 30 minutes to talk about great take-out
food options and the latest Netflix shows. The YAD Cabinet pushed each other to develop a creative program for May that would engage YAD members through video conferencing. The Mystery Wine Event exceeded expectations, providing momentum and energy to continue programming into the summer. Amie Harrell, Jillian Sachs, Tal Feldman-Sifen, and Jasmine Amitay served on the Mystery Wine event
committee. Matt Kantro served ably as the Zoom host of the wine tasting. Whether it is possible to gather in person or if it is necessary to continue to maintain social distance, YAD plans to provide fun, innovative events to keep the community connected. For information about UJFT’s Young Adult Division, contact Carly Glikman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bern and Jake Glasser’s computer screen.
David and Maggie Glickman.
Rachel Kane and Lyra Sechong.
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SENTARA IS TAKING EVERY SAFETY PRECAUTION BY:
• Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to caregivers & patients • Screening of providers & staff • Pre-screening patients before arrival • Ongoing cleaning & sanitizing of all areas • Screening patients for fever & symptoms at the front door