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Another Opinion on Pope Benedict XVI
beg to differ a bit from the very optimistic outlook by my dear friend and esteemed colleague, Rabbi Arthur Ruberg, in his well-written article concerning the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI, in the March 4 issue of our outstanding Jewish News. Admittedly, the Pope had big (Red) shoes to fill upon assuming the towering spiritual leadership of over one billion Roman Catholics. After all, his predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II, took long-overdue, giant steps to reach out to the Jewish people and the State of Israel, building upon the breakthrough work of Pope John XXIII, and the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s. Surely, the fact that Pope John Paul II was from Poland and fought the Nazis, made a critical difference. The fact, however, that Pope Benedict XVI is from Germany, served in the Hitler Youth Movement and in the German Army during WWII, though he deserted, was compelling reason for him to faithfully continue with added vigor and purpose to make his own imprint, in the footsteps of his visionary predecessor which, as his past advisor, we are told he had participated supportively in Pope John Paul II historic initiatives. Pope Benedict XVI wavered, introducing revised liturgy which returned
Jews and Roman Catholics to dark times which had contributed to the vast tragedy of the Holocaust. Of concern as well is his embrace of controversial Pope Pius XII whose efforts fell short of what he could and should have done, granted under challenging circumstances, to rise to full moral potential and expectation of his high calling when the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people was taking place in the heart of Christian Europe. Any Pope, and particularly a German one, bears special responsibility vis-à-vis the Jewish people. It is interesting to note that Muslim leaders experienced their own measure of disappointment with Pope Benedict XVI, following the historic visit of Pope John Paul II to a Mosque in Syria, just as he visited the Rome Synagogue. Let us pray and hope that the next elected Pope will ever be mind full of the shared history of pain and promise which as Jews we are commanded to safeguard for the sake of all that we hold precious, “Zachor!” Rabbi Israel Zoberman Congregation Beth Chaverim, Virginia Beach
Clarification on Jews in Bulgaria In the February 11, 2013 edition of the Jewish News, in an article entitled “BBYO teen organizes Bully event at the JCC,” the article referred to “Jews in Bulgaria who can’t openly practice Judaism.” Clearly there is no law in Bulgaria regarding the restriction of Jews practicing Judaism in the country. Just like in other parts of the world, including the United States, there may be certain individuals who do not feel comfortable practicing Judaism openly for fear of how they may be treated. That can occur anywhere in the world and is not representative of how the average Jewish Bulgarian feels. Bulgaria has a remarkable past with it relationship with the Jewish people. Bulgaria saved over 50,000 of its own Jews during the Holocaust. According to Professor and former Knesset member Michael Bar-Zohar’s famous book and documentary, Beyond Hitler’s Grasp, Bulgaria is the only country in Europe whose Jewish population actually increased during WWII because the Bulgarian people and their King said no to Hitler’s bullying. The people of Bulgaria have one of the highest literacy rates in the world and are very tolerant of all religions. The BBYO ambassador program to Bulgaria is one of the most sought after curriculums offered.
Funds and scholarships named for Ruthi Kroskin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Zachor, a personal reflection on suffering . . . . . 18 Community celebrates Purim. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Larry Mestel at JCC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Temple Israel Sisterhood’s Pre-Pesach dinner. . . 20 BINA at HAT for Purim. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Temple Israel and Federation Grant. . . . . . . . . . 21 Teens go to New York. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 What’s Happening. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Professional Directory. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Calendar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Obituaries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Face to Face: Betsy Karotkin and Jennifer Adut. . . . . . . . . . 32
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jewishnewsva.org | March 25, 2013 | Jewish News | 3
briefs U.S. senators Kirk and Gillibrand decry Argentina-Iran commission Two U.S. senators asked the president of Argentina to end her country’s agreement with Iran to establish a “truth commission” on the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center. Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) sent a letter this month to Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner expressing their “grave concern” over the joint commission to investigate the July 18, 1994 bombing of the AMIA center, which killed 85 and injured 300. The senators fear the joint panel, which allows independent judges to interview suspects, will downgrade the incident and “lead to the dismissal of charges and the whitewashing of this heinous crime,” they wrote. “The truth in this matter has already been meticulously established in Argentine courts,” according to Kirk and Gillibrand. In 2006, an Argentinian court prosecuting the matter indicted eight senior Iranian officials with ties to the Hezbollah terror group. Six Iranians have been on the Interpol international police agency’s most wanted list since 2007 in connection with the bombing, including the current defense minister, Gen. Ahmed Vahidi. Argentina’s Congress has passed the memorandum of understanding signed by the two countries. (JTA) Court upholds Citi Field’s ban on sale of kosher food on Shabbat A federal appeals court told a kosher hot dog vendor in New York that its agreement with Citi Field precludes it from selling kosher products at the stadium on Shabbat. Kosher Sports Inc. had a 10-year contract with Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, to sell hot dogs, sausages and other kosher products in the stadium through October 2018. In 2010, the kosher food distributor sued Citi Field operators for preventing its workers from selling their products on Friday nights and Saturdays, and for attempting to stop the company from obtaining a fourth food cart. In its ruling, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York found that the agreement “did not cover when or where KSI could sell its kosher food products,” and therefore Citi Field was within its rights to restrict sales on the Sabbath. The court also awarded Citi Field $55,000 and rejected Kosher Sports Inc.’s request to reverse a court decision from February
2012 that found the vendor failed to make payments on time. “KSI had no right under the unambiguous terms of the agreement to sell its products at Citi Field on Fridays and Saturdays,” the court wrote. The vendor launched its $1 million lawsuit three years ago, claiming that it had lost $500,000 in profits because its stands were not allowed to open during Sabbath games or events. Kosher Sports said it had received permission from kosher-certifying authorities to open the stands to sell food items on the Sabbath, but the rabbi who certifies the stands denied that claim. (JTA)
Association elects gay rabbi to lead group The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association has elected an openly gay rabbi to lead the national rabbinic organization. Rabbi Jason Klein, the executive director of Hillel at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, since 2006, was elected to lead the RRA during its 39th annual convention in New Orleans. It is the first national rabbinic association of one of the major Jewish denominations in the United States to be led by a gay man, according to the group. Klein was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Council in 2002 and graduated from Columbia University in 1997. He grew up in Montclair, N.J. Klein spent four years as a congregational rabbi at Congregation Beth Emeth on the South Shore of Long Island, N.Y. “Coming out and growing into my adult Jewish identity would not be the same were it not for affirming teachers, rabbis and other mentors along the way,” Klein said after his election, j. weekly reported. “I am honored to be able to give back by supporting colleagues who are creating welcoming communities in hundreds of settings across North America and beyond.” The rabbinical association also honored Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, who in 1974 became the first woman to be ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Sasso was honored in advance of her stepping down after 36 years as rabbi of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis. (JTA) First Miss Israel of Ethiopian descent to dine with Obama Yityish Aynaw, the first Miss Israel of Ethiopian descent, has been invited to meet President Obama at a dinner hosted by President Shimon Peres.
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Aynaw, 21, who was crowned two weeks ago, reportedly was invited at the behest of Obama’s advance team. In interviews with the Israeli media, Aynaw called Obama an inspiration and a role model. “For me, he is a role model who broke down barriers, a source of inspiration that proves that every person really can reach any height, regardless of their religion, race or gender,” she told the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot. She told the Jerusalem Post that she thought she was invited to the dinner because she is “the first black Miss Israel to be chosen and [Obama] is the first black American president. These go together.” Aynaw, who immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with her grandparents at the age of 12, said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 that when she meets Obama she will tell him he has been a role model and that he should free Jonathan Pollard. She told the interviewer that as head of her high school student council she worked on many projects calling for the release of Pollard, who is serving a life sentence in the United States for spying for Israel. “If I have the opportunity, why not?” she said. (JTA)
Americans backing Israel in evergrowing numbers, poll shows Americans’ sympathies lean heavily toward Israel over the Palestinians in the highest level of support seen in 22 years. According to data gleaned from Gallup’s 2013 World Affairs poll, 64 percent of Americans support Israel over the Palestinians, with 12 percent backing the Palestinians over Israel. The last time Israel garnered as much support from Americans was in 1991 during the Gulf War. Republicans are much likelier than Democrats to favor the Israelis, at 78 percent to 55 percent, with independents at 63 percent. But since 2001, independents have shown the greatest gain in support, up 21 percent. The support from Republicans has increased 18 percent during that time and Democrats’ backing has grown 4 percent. Older Americans backed Israel in the greatest numbers, with 71 percent among those 55 and older showing sympathy. The figure fell to 65 percent among 35- to 54-year-olds and 55 percent among 18- to 34-year-olds. Among young adults, the percentage of those answering no opinion or does not favor either side has increased. Each age group polled 12 percent in
favor of the Palestinians. The poll was conducted Feb. 7–10, with a random sample of 1,015 adults aged 18 and older living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 points. (JTA)
Streisand to perform two stadium concerts in Tel Aviv Barbra Streisand will perform two Tel Aviv concerts in Israel in addition to performing at the 90th birthday celebration for President Shimon Peres. The concerts will take place June 15-16 at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium, the Israel media reported. On June 18, Streisand will perform at the opening ceremony of the Israeli Presidential Conference, which will be marking Peres’ milestone birthday. Streisand reportedly has visited Israel many times, and is a strong supporter of Israel, but has never performed in the Jewish state. One of the best-selling musicians of all time, Streisand has sold some 72.5 million records in the United States. She performed at last month’s Oscars for the first time in 36 years. Approximately 4,500 people are expected to attend the Israeli Presidential Conference. (JTA) Retract Zionism slur, U.S. lawmakers urge Turkey’s Erdogan Eighty-nine members of the U.S. Congress signed a letter calling on Turkey’s prime minister to retract his comments blasting Zionism. The lawmakers, representing both houses of Congress and both political parties, sent the one-page letter to Tayyip Erdogan to express “our grave disappointment with the statement you made at the United Nations-sponsored conference in Vienna last month equating Zionism—the foundation of the Jewish state and the movement for Jewish self-determination—with fascism and anti-Semitism, and labeling it a ‘crime against humanity.’” Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), who signed the letter, in a statement sent to JTA said Erdogan’s “outlandish comment is simply unacceptable” and “further threatens unrest in an already perilous region.” Another signer, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), said, “Rather than pursuing closer ties with the United States, Europe and Israel, Erdogan continues to pursue a policy of distance and isolation from the West.” (JTA)
When do you feel most Jewish?
or me, it was at summer camp. I was able to find a connection with the divine under the trees and in the hills of Northern California, with other young, liberal Jews. I felt like I belonged; that the universe was safe; that I could touch something almost magical in the Judaism we celebrated throughout the day. It built an appreciation in me for living a more fully Jewish life all of the time—not just in synagogue or around the holiday meal—but at every moment of the day, I felt Jewish. I am privileged to spend about two weeks as faculty at summer camp each year. There, I’m tempted to live my summer camp childhood again, but it’s really about bringing Judaism alive for the next generation. I get to share my experiences with, and provide experiences for, the active Jews who will be running our synagogues in a few years. Together we get to share, as Martin Buber would say, “moments of religious consciousness,” connecting Jews with their Judaism. Holidays can make me feel especially Jewish. Gathered around the Seder table, it’s not just an early dinner, it’s a spiritual affair. To paraphrase Sheila Panitz, one of my son’s teachers at Hebrew Academy of Tidewater, the Passover Seder is a multisensory experience. With our eyes, we look around at the beautiful ritual objects, we gaze at the door we open in hopes of seeing Elijah the Prophet, and we peer into the faces of family and friends. Our ears help us to sense the beautiful holiday melodies and the main point of the Seder ritual—the telling of the story of our redemption from Egypt. Our lips and noses sense the sweet
wine (four times!) and the delicious holiday foods of our family traditions, and we feel the crunchy matzah with our hands and teeth. The Passover Seder embodies the style of education I feel works so well at summer camp and everywhere—we jump into the role of a character in the story, and our senses help us to experience life “as if we, too, were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt”. This week we read from Exodus 33:12—34:26 and Numbers 28:19-25, the traditional portion for the Sabbath during Passover week. In it, God lets Moses see God’s back, and Moses carves a new set of stone tablets for God to inscribe, to replace the ones Moses smashed. Talk about building holy relationships! We then hear the commandment to observe Passover in its time on the calendar and the commandment to redeem each firstborn male issue of the womb—both animal and human—as a further reminder of the Exodus experience. Additionally, we read about the special Passover sacrifices to be offered each day of the holiday. While the sacrifices are not practiced today, each Pesach day we have an opportunity to connect with something holy by eating the matzah, refraining from eating leavened items, and living our lives a little bit differently from the rest of the year. Through experiences such as summer camp, youth group activities, and educational synagogue opportunities, we feel Jewish by connecting to other Jews. In gathering at the Passover table, we feel Jewish by connecting as a family. When we eat and act differently for the Pesach week, we feel Jewish by connecting to our higher selves and God. May you use all of your senses to enhance your Jewish experiences, as you more fully enjoy Passover, make Jewish summer plans, and build divine relationships! —Cantor Wally Schachet-Briskin, Ohef Sholom Temple
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As trip begins, Obama and Netanyahu are all smiles by Ben Sales
JERUSALEM (JTA)—President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it’s safe to say, haven’t always been the best of friends. The leaders of two closely allied countries, they’ve have had a relationship described more often as tense than anything else. But on the first day of Obama’s first presidential trip to Israel, the president and prime minister were all smiles, handshakes and hugs. Netanyahu couldn’t stop thanking Obama for his support on a range of issues. Obama, for his part, attempted a few sentences in Hebrew, quoted the Talmud, and complimented Netanyahu’s wife and children. Obama has been to Israel twice before, most recently as a presidential candidate in 2008. Rather than signaling the launch of a new push for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, this trip appeared to be an effort by Obama to win over the hearts and minds of Israelis. “I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations, to restate America’s unwav-
ering commitment to Israel’s security,” Obama said upon his arrival. “It makes us both stronger. It makes us both more prosperous. And it makes the world a better place.” The agreeability on March 20 between Obama and Netanyahu also extended to policy. The two leaders downplayed any differences on security issues and instead stressed broad U.S.-Israeli consensus on Iran’s nuclear program, the Syrian civil war and even IsraeliPalestinian negotiations. Last year, Netanyahu issued a thinly veiled rebuke of Obama, saying at a news conference that nations that don’t issue red lines on Iran’s nuclear program “don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.” On the first day of Obama’s trip, though, practically the only mention of a red line was a joke the two men made about
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the red carpet laid out for Obama during his welcome ceremony. In a statement following a meeting with the president, Netanyahu praised Obama for his actions on Iran. “You have made it clear that you are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said. “I appreciate your forthright position on this point. I appreciate that you have acted through diplomacy and strong sanctions.” And while Obama said multiple times of Iran that “we prefer to resolve this diplomatically,” he added, “Each country has to make its own decision when it comes to the awesome decision to engage in any military action. I don’t expect that the prime minister will make a decision about his country’s security and defer that to any other country.” The two leaders also found common ground on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, previously a huge sticking point. In 2009, not long after Obama began his first term—and Netanyahu his second—Obama called for an Israeli freeze on West Bank settlement building. Netanyahu acquiesced partially after initially resisting the call. This time, Obama eschewed a similar request. “I did not want to come here and make some big announcement that might not match up with what the realities and possibilities on the ground are,” Obama said. “I want to listen before I talk. It is a hard slog to work through all of these issues.” Netanyahu responded by affirming Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution, even though some prominent members of his new coalition oppose any sort of Palestinian state. He said he hopes to resume negotiations soon. “Let me be clear: Israel remains fully committed to peace and the solution of
two states for two peoples,” Netanyahu said. “We extend our hand in friendship and peace to the Palestinian people.” In his welcome speech, Obama may have aimed to smooth over some hard feelings lingering from his June 2009 speech in Cairo, when the new president implied that Israel’s legitimacy stemmed from the Holocaust rather than the millennia of Jewish history in the land of Israel. Obama opened his speech upon arriving at the airport near Tel Aviv with a little Hebrew, quipping, “It’s good to be back in Israel” in an accent that wasn’t half bad. Obama then paid homage to “the historic homeland of the Jewish people.” “More than 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people lived here, tended the land here, prayed to God here,” Obama said. “And after centuries of exile and persecution, unparalleled in the history of man, the founding of the Jewish State of Israel was a rebirth, a redemption unlike any in history.” The love-fest continued during joint statements with Israeli President Shimon Peres, who over the past four years has had a friendlier relationship with Obama than Netanyahu. Last year, Obama awarded Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom; Peres plans to present Obama on his visit with Israel’s Presidential Medal of Distinction. Obama and Netanyahu emphasized the importance of Palestinian-Israeli peace. Obama also illustrated Peres’ decades-long work toward peace with a Talmudic story about a man who plants a tree even though he knows he won’t live to see its fruit. “As my forefathers planted for me, so will I plant for my children,” said Obama, quoting the famous passage. A military band played Israeli standards for the president as he disembarked from Air Force One, and a children’s choir serenaded him after his meeting with Peres. For the first day, the theme of the trip looked to be reconciliation. Asked about the Israeli public’s relative coolness toward Obama—a poll conducted this month by the Israel Democracy Institute showed that 54 percent of 600 Jewish Israelis surveyed do not trust Obama to consider and safeguard Israel’s interests—Netanyahu said, “People should get to know President Obama the way I’ve gotten to know him.”
Jews find early signs from Pope Francis encouraging By Ruth Ellen Gruber
ROME (JTA)—When the white smoke rose at the Vatican, signaling to the world that the College of Cardinals had chosen a new pope, Catholics weren’t the only ones waiting with bated breath. Jews, too, were eager to see whether the new pontiff would be someone familiar with their concerns. Would he be a non-European unfamiliar with the Jewish people and the weighty legacy of the Holocaust? Would he carry on the legacy of his immediate predecessors and work to further Jewish-Catholic relations? After the new pope appeared before the masses in St. Peter’s Square, it didn’t take long for him to signal that he would maintain the church’s outreach to Jews. Nor did it take long for the Jews to sing his praises. As it turns out, Pope Francis, 76—nee Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina—was from outside Europe and had a long history of interfaith outreach and good relations with the Jews. He’s the first pope from the Americas, as well as the first in more than a millennium from outside Europe. The new pontiff “is no stranger to us,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, who met with Bergoglio in Buenos Aires in 2008, says in a statement. “He always had an open ear for our concerns. “By choosing such an experienced man, someone who is known for his openmindedness, the cardinals have sent an important signal to the world,” Lauder says. “I am sure that Pope Francis will continue to be a man of dialogue, a man who is able to build bridges with other faiths.” Like Benedict before him, Francis in one of his first official acts wrote to Rome’s chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni. He invited Di Segni to the papal inaugural Mass and said he hoped “to be able to contribute to the progress that relations between Jews and Catholics have experienced” since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. The election of Francis, Di Segni wrote back, “gives us the hope that the path of friendship, respect and productive collaboration will continue.” On Saturday, March 16, the pope went out of his way to acknowledge non-Catholics in a blessing offered to news media. “Given that many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church and others are not believers, I give this blessing from my heart, in silence, to each one of you, respecting the conscience of each one of you, but knowing that each one of you is a child of God,”
Francis said in his address, according to The New York Times. “May God bless you.” Pope John Paul II had made outreach to Jews one of the pillars of his papacy. His successor, Benedict XVI, continued dialogue with the Jews but also made several policy decisions that angered Jews, including lifting the excommunication of a renegade bishop who turned out to be a Holocaust denier. Francis projects a “man of the people” style in sharp contrast to Benedict, who was seen as removed and cold. Francis is known for living simply, taking the subway and answering his own phone. He spent virtually his entire career in Argentina, away from the intrigues of the Vatican’s Roman Curia—the central governing body of the Catholic Church—and other scandals that dogged the papacy of his predecessor. However, within days of the new pope’s election, the Vatican faced questions about what Francis did—and did not do— to oppose the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. Critics have said the church did not do enough to oppose the military dictatorship’s Dirty War, including the kidnapping of two Jesuit priests in 1976. Francis has said he worked behind the scenes to free the priests and sheltered others by hiding them at a Jesuit school. The questions about Francis’ past carry echoes of the Holocaust-era controversy surrounding Pope Pius XII. Many Jews charge that Pius did not do enough to oppose the Nazis, but the Vatican and Pius’ proponents say he worked behind the scenes to save Jews. While a staunch conservative on social issues such as gay marriage, female priests and abortion, Francis spent years working among the poor and made interfaith outreach one of his priorities. “The Latin American Jewish Congress has had a close relationship with Monsignor Jorge Bergoglio for many years,” said Claudio Epelman, executive director of the congress. “We know his virtues and have no doubt whatsoever that he will do an excellent job for the church.” As archbishop of Buenos Aires, his relationship with Argentinian Jews was personal as well as institutional. His only book, Regarding Heaven and Earth, is the transcript of wide-ranging conversations between himself and Rabbi Abraham Skorka, the rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary. Francis and the rabbi also shared billing on an Argentinian TV talk show on religious issues. Francis has referred to Skorka as his
“brother and friend.” The then-cardinal attended services at Skorka’s synagogue and also arranged for Skorka to receive an honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of Argentina. Francis also wrote the foreword to a book by another Buenos Aires rabbi and civic activist, Sergio Bergman. “Bergoglio is a master,” Bergman wrote in the Argentinian media after Francis’ election. “True to my Jewish roots and rabbinical vocation, inside my home community and the entire Argentine society, I found in Francis a teacher who heard me, guided me and advised me on how to deploy my vocation to serve both the Creator and his creatures in defiance of common good.” Last December, Bergoglio joined Bergman and other Jewish leaders and representatives of other faiths in lighting the Chanukah candles. Francis is cited with particular warmth by Argentinian Jews for showing solidarity with the Jewish community following the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that
left 85 dead. The attack, Francis told the Argentinian media, was “another link in the chain of pain and persecution that God’s chosen people has suffered throughout history.” In 2005, he signed a petition for justice in the AMIA bombing case and a document called “85 victims, 85 signatures.” In June 2010, he visited the rebuilt AMIA building to talk with Jewish leaders. “The closeness between Francis and the Jewish community is special and precious,” Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, vice president of the World Union of Progressive Judaism, says JTA. Bretton-Granatoor, who is based in New York but has met Francis a couple of times, called the new pope “a mensch” who “gets the importance of a relationship with the Jewish community, who understands the meaning of the Shoah and has a heart in the right place on a number of issues that concern us as well.” Obviously, he added, “we will vigorously disagree with him on many fundamental issues as well—but that is part of the game, isn’t it?”
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jewishnewsva.org | March 25, 2013 | Jewish News | 7
Begins at sunset r e v o Monday, March 25 s s a P y p p a In experiencing real freedom, the importance of boundaries H by Dasee Berkowitz
NEW YORK (JTA)—We have a love-hate relationship with boundaries. We hate being confined or told what to do. Boundaries limit our individuality, intrude upon what we want to do and
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8 | Jewish News | March 25, 2013 | jewishnewsva.org
sometimes feel like an arbitrary obstacle to getting what we want. For children, limits of time (bedtime), sources of enjoyment (how much ice cream for dessert) or behavior (being scolded) can seem like arbitrary rules that stymie their ability to fully enjoy the activity at hand in favor of some far-off goal that only their parent understands. But we also love boundaries because we know that without them, life would be chaotic. As a parent, we know setting firm boundaries helps us raise our children and run our households. As a global citizen, we know that boundaries help us create civilized societies. And as Jews we know that boundaries help define who we are and what our purpose is. No holiday helps us understand this more than Passover. The form of the holiday is all about boundaries. The flow of the seder—not to mention the very word itself, which means order—requires us to take each step at a time, in a certain sequence. The rabbis teach that one does not fulfill one’s obligation of the seder until we have completed speaking about the pascal offering (pesach), matzah and the bitter herbs (maror). The themes of Passover also require a degree of prescriptive recitation. On seder night we travel from slavery to freedom, from being idol worshipers to worshiping God, and in the words of the haggadah, from degradation (“genut”) to praise (“shevach”). We understand these central themes of the holiday by the rituals on seder night. We have particular symbols on the seder plate. We ask four questions, hinting to us that our ability to ask questions itself is an act that reflects our status as free people. We drink four cups of wine, which relate to four languages of redemption from the Torah itself, when God says, “I will take you out from under the burdens of Egypt”; “I will save you from their bondage”; “I will redeem you”; and “I will take you to me as a people.” Recited in this sequence, we are encouraged to reflect how liberation from Egypt is a process from physical subjugation to forging a new relationship with God. Our story of liberation is a carefully scripted narrative. And while creativity is not only allowed on seder night but encouraged (in fact the haggadah itself exhorts, “anyone who increases the telling of the
story of the Exodus from Egypt is praiseworthy”), the prescribed ritual matters. It’s counterintuitive. If we are celebrating freedom, why can’t we be free to choose how we want to celebrate a holiday of freedom? Freedom from slavery is one kind of freedom that we celebrate on Passover, but that is only half of the story. We were liberated from Egypt not to wander as free spirits in the wilderness but for a purpose— to serve God. The words are interesting here—we escape from “avodah kasha” (“difficult labor”), which the Egyptians forced upon us, to “avodat Hashem” (“worship of God”) and a system of life that God reveals to Moses and the children of Israel at Mount Sinai 50 days later. The fulfillment of Jewish freedom is a life of commitment, direction and purpose. We can understand what a purposedriven freedom means from the Pirkei Avot (the Teachings of our Fathers) interpretation of the verse from Exodus, “the word of God was harut [engraved] on the stone tablets [that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai.]” (Exodus 32:16) In Pirkei Avot 6:2, Rabbi Joshua ben Levi writes, “Don’t read carved [harut] but rather freedom [heirut], for there is no free person other than one who is occupied with Torah.” Here there is a word play between “engraved,” which connotes rigidity, and “free.” If we neglect a relationship with the Divine, which is established here through the study of Torah, and more broadly with our Jewish tradition and the ethical system that has been passed down to us through the generations, then we lack freedom. One of the lessons of Passover is that only within boundaries and structure can we experience true freedom. When we create appropriate physical boundaries for our children, they are able to play and express themselves freely. When we embrace the boundaries of Jewish commitment through holiday and Shabbat celebration and learning, we open up for ourselves the contours of a meaningful life. We fill our lives with the grand narratives (of pursuing justice and working to free slaves) and lofty ideals (like the importance of Shabbat and turning off our ego-driven selves for a day to become attuned to our souls.) And when we see that our duty as global citizens requires us to put others’ needs before our own desires, we create caring societies.
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Women celebrate at festive seder by Laine M. Rutherford
he response to the 2013 Tidewater Women’s Outreach Seder, held at the Simon Family JCC on March 17, was evident before the first bite of egg matzoh crossed a lipsticked mouth. Women from all affiliations and backgrounds made reservations early, and the Seder drew more than 80 participants. Excited attendees streamed in to find tables set with spring flowers, a seder plate brimming with traditional and non-traditional elements, and a brochure containing excerpts from the JDC Haggadah: In Every Generation, a traditional Haggadah illustrating not just the order of the seder, but also the wonderful work of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). The women-only seder was presented by the Women’s Outreach of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and the Simon Family Jewish Community Center. Janet Mercadante, Kim Fink, and Amy Lefcoe chaired the event, along with Stephanie Peck, chair of the JCC’s Jewish Life and Learning Committee. Miriam Brunn Ruberg, director of the JCC’s Jewish Life and Learning program worked alongside Amy Lefcoe, the UJFT Women’s Cabinet education chair, to serve as co-seder leaders. Mercadante told the ladies in the room that in planning the seder, the committee worked diligently to find just the right balance that would make the program both meaningful and fun. The use of the JDC Haggadah, with its emphasis on the organization’s 99-year-history of rescue, relief
Hannah Yasemsky and Charlene Cohen washing hands.
and renewal of Jews and Jewish communities around the world, along with singing, group participation, and even tambourines, helped make all feel comfortable. “This is not all about starving your way through, so that the chopped liver and the gefilte fish all-of-a-sudden look appealing once a year,” says Fink in her welcoming remarks. “It’s about telling our story together.” “What we’re hoping today, as part of the of the Women’s campaign and outreach, is that we all glean something from this [story] yet again, something beyond our great grandmother’s Maxwell House seder books…and that we will make it our own and add it to our tradition.” Brunn Ruberg explained some of the lesser known and less traditional items which appeared on the seder plate. The roasted beet, she explained, took the place of the traditional shank bone. And a waterfilled Miriam’s Cup on the Passover table was meant to symbolize the important role of women in the exodus story. Amy Lefcoe talked about some of the “odd things” we do at a seder: “We raise… we lower.... We cover…we uncover. We do things that we never do at any other time. And the result is that we arouse curiosity, especially of the children. We are telling the story of our exodus, but it’s more than just a story. It’s who we are as Jewish people, and the only way that our kids are going to get excited about this is if we’re excited about it, and so we do things to provoke them to ask questions.” More than 35 ladies took part during the course of the seder, reading passages and prayers from the Haggadah. “I really feel that having such a range of people participate made them feel invested in their Judaism and made them feel a part of the community,” says Brunn Ruberg. “It wasn’t just the community leaders reading, but the seniors, the students, and those who are not usually as involved. I think it was terrific.” Guest Cheryl Dronzek says she enjoyed the seder, and particularly appreciated the tone, intent and use of the JDC Haggadah. “I think this seder was an interesting opportunity for JDC’s goals and knowledge to be spread about,” Dronzek says. “The Haggadah made the seder more contemporary—making it a broader, as well as a deeper, experience for us.” The Women’s Outreach Seder was just one program of the UJFT Women’s Outreach committee. These events are designed to bring women from across the Jewish com-
10 | Jewish News | March 25, 2013 | jewishnewsva.org
Women’s Seder committee: Stephanie Peck, chair, JCC’s Jewish Life and Learning Committee; Amy Lefcoe, UJFT Women’s Education chair; Miriam Brunn Ruberg, JCC Jewish Life and Learning director; Janet Mercadante, UJFT Women’s Outreach co-chair; Kim Simon Fink, UJFT Women’s Outreach co-chair.
The luncheon dishes were prepared from the recipes published in last year’s Women’s Outreach Passover cooking event, Jewlicious.
munity together to meet and to enable them to sample just some of the work that the Federation does, locally through its service delivery agencies, and abroad, through the work of the JDC. Sandy Katz, JDC’s regional representative for the UJFT, traveled to Virginia Beach to attend the seder. “It is a special opportunity to actually see a community, and this group of women, use the JDC Haggadah. I’m very excited to be a part of this today.” The next Women’s Outreach event takes place on Sunday, April 21 at Cinema Café Pembroke in Virginia Beach. It will be a “Girls’ Afternoon at the movies,” featuring the film Avalon. Call Patty Malone at 965‑6115 for more information or to reserve a spot. To learn more about Women’s Outreach events, visit www.JewishVa.org. To see more photos of the event, visit www.jewishnewsva.org.
Ilana Benson and Robin West clap and play tambourines to accompany Miriam’s Song.
The Virginia Birthright experience “The Birthright Israel trip changed my life,” says Old Dominion University student Jacob Mart, “I never would have invested time to explore my Judaism without it.” Twice a year, students at Old Dominion University, William and Mary, Christopher Newport University and other universities have an opportunity to take advantage of going to Israel with a group from Virginia. “Hampton Roads doesn’t have one big university with a large, Jewish population, but when you bring all the local universities together they can be a real force,” says Rabbi Gershon Litt, executive director of the Norfolk Kollel. He says, “Local Virginia students cannot compete with larger universities like Texas, Maryland, or Penn, and therefore cannot guarantee buses of students going to Israel on Birthright trips, but if we all join together as one, then the results are very powerful.” Since 2005 Litt has led Taglit Birthright trips. This winter, he led his 20th trip. “It is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. To see the students experience Israel for the first time gives me tremendous inspiration and keeps me focused on continuing to reach out to college students,” he says. Ellie Bernstein, director of the ODU Hillel, says “Having Rabbi Litt lead this trip has been wonderful for Hillel. Our students go to Israel as individuals and they come back as a cohesive group, unified and wanting to do more for the organization.” Students have reunions, get together for Shabbat meals, bring Israel advocacy programs to their respective campuses, and have a new family of fellow students who experienced Israel together. Litt goes to Israel with a trip organizer called Israel Free Spirit. Bernstein says, “IFS offers a wonderful trip for the students. The program educates them about the land, politics, and religion in a positive and non-judgmental way.” Bernstein’s son, Max, went to Israel with Litt on an Israel Free Spirit Birthright trip last summer. “Max came back inspired.” In addition, Bernstein’s nephew, Derek Weinstein, also went on that same trip. “It was the most amazing experience of my life,” says Weinstein. CNU student and president of the CNU Hillel, Hannah Kaye, says that Rabbi Litt’s Birthright trip, “Changed my perspective on the Middle East and connected me to Judaism in a way that I never thought possible. All I want to do is give other students that same opportunity.” Tristan Schnader, president of
the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity at the College of William and Mary, also went to Israel on the IFS Birthright trip with Litt. “Birthright helped solidify my identity as a Jew and made me realize how important it was to get my fraternity more involved in the Jewish community,” says Schnader. “I have been offering Jewish programming at William and Mary for almost eight years. The Jewish students there are wonderful, dedicated, and need help to unify the Jewish student population. Birthright does that. It brings the students back and empowers them to stand up, be advocates, continue to learn about their heritage, and make a difference for other Jewish students,” says Litt. “I used to lead trips with 40 students and only a few local ones. Now, with over 20 students from local Virginia universities, and this winter an enrollment of over 30 local, Virginia-based students, I can see that the word is catching on. For more information on Rabbi Litt’s Birthright program for university students in Virginia, contact him at 757-623-8672.
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To learn more about making a legacy gift to support the Tidewater community, contact Philip S. Rovner with the Tidewater Jewish Foundation at (757) 965-6111, email@example.com. jewishnewsva.org | March 25, 2013 | Jewish News | 11
Athletics at Yeshiva Aish Kodesh
t a parent’s weekThe tournament was end at Yeshivas exciting, featuring the Aish Kodesh, throws, sweeps, and Norfolk’s local Jewish ground work associated Boys’ high school, several with the sport. The stuparents who send their dents impressed their children to Norfolk from audience with their techNew York to Milwaukee, nical knowledge, agility, indicated that one of and strength, and every the unique features that match was exciting. The Sensei Jason Ohana with the tournament Rabbi Lowenbraun, head winners, Aharon Loiterman (2nd place), tournament was won by of school, offers is its Josh Edery (1st place), and Shmuel Yeshivas Aish Kodesh extracurricular sports pro- Schwartz (3rd place). senior Josh Edery, while grams. The boys have both sophomore Aharon senior and junior varsity basketball teams, as Loiterman finished second, and freshman well as an intramural football league. Shmuel Schwartz finished third. Prizes for The Yeshiva’s fastest growing sports the participants were provided by Skinny club, however, is Judo. Taught by black Dip and Carolina Cupcakes. belt instructor Jason Ohana, the boys’ Judo The club’s members are now joining club has been gaining members. the United States Judo Federation, which On Sunday, Dec. 2, the club held its enables them to compete in larger and more first Judo tournament, humorously named prestigious tournaments. The Judo club is the “Toughest Mensch Contest,” with 15 expected to provide many unforgettable participants. Rabbi Gershon Litt from the moments in the future, and should serve Norfolk Community Kollel opened the to change the way most think about the event by sharing how important learning toughness of these budding scholars. martial arts could be for a Jewish person. For more information about YAK, visit He explained that martial arts goes beyond www.yeshivasaishkodesh.com. the physical exercise and techniques of selfYeshivas Aish Kodesh is a recipient of funds defense, which are also important, since it of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. also helps students learn to work hard and persevere mentally.
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he annual “Varsity vs. Veterans” charity basketball game to benefit the athletic department of Yashivas Aish Kodesh (YAK) was held in the Jaffe Gym on the Sandler Family Campus on Thursday, March 7. A great crowd supported the cause and took their chances at winning a cash prize with a half-court shot. Several United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and Simon Family JCC staffers and lay leaders suited up for the Veterans squad. The event raised more than $500 for the school.
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Front Row: Coach Hanes, Jesse Slone, Yair Klein, Michael Brooke, Yehuda Golub, Yaakov Wilson, Gershon Waxman and Coach Bazemore. Back Row: Reuvain Rothenberg, Isaac Brooke, Shlomo Aron, Nechemia Fischer, Michael Reischer, Michael Gross, and Nachi Mostofsky.
Rabbi reminds audience: You’re being watched
by Laine M. Rutherford
Using personal observations, religious instruction, an occasional joke and even a song, Rabbi Gavriel Friedman brought words of caution and messages of hope to an enthusiastic crowd at the Simon Family JCC on Saturday, March 9. “You are always affecting someone, and you are always being affected,” said the popular speaker, better known as Rav Gav. “You may think nobody is watching, but they are. Everybody is watching!” The theme of the evening’s presentation was “Impressions: Like it or not, you’re a role model.” The 90-minute discussion and pizza party afterward were sponsored by the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, the Konikoff Center of Learning and the Simon Family JCC. Following an introduction by community member Kevin Lefcoe, Friedman spoke frankly to the diverse crowd of 150, focusing on the impressions parents make on young children, the impact people have on one another, and the ability people have to change their behaviors. Translating a saying from Pirkei Avot (The Ethics of our Fathers), the Jerusalem resident compared children and unknown people to fresh pieces of paper that are still untouched by ink. Once children get older and people get to know one another, that paper is smudged—it’s not longer as fresh. “What you are going to write on that paper is so unbelievably crucial,” Friedman said. “We have to be so careful about what we teach our kids and what we say.” Using stories to illustrate the concept, Friedman cautioned against lying to and
Our firearm safety class meets the requirement for Virginia Concealed Handgun Permits. Rabbi Gavriel Friedman and Kevin and Amy Lefcoe
in front of children. They’re like sponges, and like clean pieces of paper, Friedman explained, and can’t distinguish between a good lie, a bad lie or a joke. “If you teach a kid that it’s okay to lie—sometimes—then they learn the same concept. They think they don’t have to be honest,” Friedman said. “Kids see things. They understand. And they’re always, always, learning from us. “When it comes to our kids, when it comes to passing on our traditions, what do we want to teach them? What do we want them to know? It doesn’t matter how old the person is…you always have the ability to affect your child or the people around you, and you must understand the impact that you have is powerful.” At the conclusion of his presentation, Friedman played the guitar and sang the sobering Harry Chapin song, Cat’s in the Cradle, reminding the audience that if they choose, they can change their behaviors, recognize their effect on others, and become positive role models for their families and, perhaps, for people they don’t even know. To see more photos of the event, go to JewishNewsVA.org.
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Programs educate and inspire at Jewish Museum The Jewish Museum and Cultural Center continues to present quality educational and cultural arts programming to celebrate and highlight the Jewish legacy and contribution to Tidewater. Sunday, March 3, concluded the successful 2012-2013 lecture series: A Minority in the Midst of Conflict: Jewish Experiences During the Civil War in Virginia; with insights to the play The Whipping Man, by Matthew Lopez, which was performed at the Virginia Stage Company’s Wells Theater. Rabbi Michael Panitz, and directors, Jasson Minadakis and Chris Hanna led an interactive discussion and brought educational understanding to the play’s controversial and compelling themes. The play is set immediately after the end of Civil War when the returning, wounded Jewish
soldier, Caleb, is reunited with two former slaves in his Richmond home. In this turbulent time of change, the audience watches as they join together to celebrate the Passover Seder and rely on their Judaism to begin their new journey in life. Throughout the year, various speakers contribute to the museum’s fall-winter lecture series and professional musicians perform in its much anticipated summer music series, Wonderful Wednesdays. Movies with Jewish themes are shown at the museum, with Rabbi Arthur Steinberg and Dr. Andrew Quicke adding their expertise and knowledge to the program, bringing their analysis and narratives on the featured film. Ongoing and special events are posted at: www.jewishmuseumportsmouth.org.
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jewishnewsva.org | March 25, 2013 | Jewish News | 13
Jewish Women’s Salon program elicits inspired answers to ‘Who’s Your Esther?’ With the then approach of the festival of Purim, which features the heroic actions one of the nearly 40 women of the biblical queen Esther, the chairs of who attended the Jewish JWS—Janet Mercadante, Janet Peck and Women’s Salon live event Danielle Leibovici (currently on maternity “Who’s Your Esther,” on leave from JWS duties)—envisioned a proFeb. 17 knew what to gram that would center on the profound expect when they arrived at 10 am. influence women can have on one another By the time the event ended at 11:45 am, and on the world around them. though, the resounding cries of “Is it realUsing Esther as a role model who ly over?” and “You must do this again,” appreciated her unique place and time and spilled from the Kramer Boardroom of the recognized her need to save the Jewish peoUnited Jewish Federation of Tidewater at ple, the co-chairs asked program participants the Sandler Family Campus. to think about the “Esthers” in their own The concept of the program—and of lives—women who were “there for them” Jewish Women’s Salon, a community-build- at certain times in their lives, or throughout ing effort of the United Jewish Federation of their lives—to offer support, inspiration, Tidewater—was to provide a means of dia- motivation, or to serve as role models. logue, inclusion, friendship and personal JWS co-chair Janet Mercadante welgrowth for all local Jewish women, regard- comed the group to the event and shared a less of their religious practices, observances brief history of the JWS program, citing its or affiliations. The program is rooted in the genesis in HBI’s 614 e-zine. She also recogarticles published in Hadassah Brandeis’ nized Annie Sandler for having the vision to 614 E-zine, an on-line magazine whose believe that one could “lift the pixels off the articles feature contemporary topics to screen and use 614 e-zine to bring issues, which many Jewish women can relate. ideas, and opinions to life through the ‘magic’ that happens when bright Jewish women come together.” Farideh Goldin, academic director of the Institute for Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding at Norfolk’s Old Dominion University, facilitated the event. A popular English, women’s studies and Jewish education teacher at ODU, as well as an author, Goldin first shared the stories of Program facilitator Farideh Goldin with Barbara Klaff and Deb Segaloff. article and photos by Laine Mednick Rutherford
Robin Mancoll, Jewish Women’s Salon co-chairs Janet Mercadante and Janet Peck, with Annie Sandler, Mona Flax, Amy Zelenka, and Amy Levy. 14 | Jewish News | March 25, 2013 | jewishnewsva.org
Farideh Goldin leads discussion of “Who’s Your Esther?”
the women in her life who shaped her into the person she is today, and then asked others to tell their own stories. And that’s just what they did. “Esthers” included mothers, aunts, grandmothers, friends, daughters, teachers, bosses, and peers in the commu- Vivian Turok, Lauren Flax, Mindy Schwartz-Katz, and Mona Flax. nity. Some women’s stories elicited tears, while others’ brought fits of laughter. Even as JWS co-chair Janet Peck brought the program to a close, stories remained that still hadn’t been told, and the clamor for another round of “Who’s Your Esther?” grew. “It was interesting to hear how many of the same words we used when we were talking about these women who are so important to us,” said Karen Lombart. Judith Rosenblatt and Barbara Dudley “Words like strong, and committed, and discuss the “Esthers” in their lives. Jewish values, and grateful. We don’t usually have an occasion where we can talk about special, and today did not disappoint me at things like this, that are really personal, and all. It was really great.” I think everyone enjoyed themselves.” A community-building initiative of the While she hadn’t known what to expect, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, Jewish Charlene Cohen made it a point to attend, Women’s Salon programs are free and open to basing her decision on a mix of curiosity and all women in the Jewish community, with no on past experiences she’s had at Women’s solicitation or gift requirement to participate. Salon and Outreach events. “Like” the Jewish Women’s Salon on Facebook “I always try to come to these Outreach to see more photos, find links to articles and programs,” Cohen said. “The diversity of issues of 614 e-zine, and get notices about Jewish women always makes the event very future events.
This year at AIPAC by Arthur Rosenfeld
recently returned from attending my first AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington D.C. I admit that I was overwhelmed by the experience and find it almost impossible to describe the amazing amount of knowledge and emotion I was exposed to at the conference. I can’t overstress how glad I am to have finally attended my first AIPAC conference at the age of 76, but how sorry I am that I didn’t come sooner and bring my kids along with me. We sent each of our kids to Israel when they were young to meet and stay with our Israeli family so we could expose them to our love, admiration, and pride in both Judaism and Israel, but I now believe it would have been even more effective if we had brought them with us to AIPAC when they were in high school, college, and as young adults. I expected to gather a lot of information about what is happening today in Israel and I wasn’t disappointed. What I didn’t expect was the emotional involvement that came along with this information. The plenary sessions included many very professionally produced video segments to give us a background understanding of the issues. The “bonus” was to then see the individuals involved in the presentations standing live on stage explaining how important Israel had been to them personally, and how thankful and supportive they are for what Israel has done to help them. This produced overwhelming feelings of pride in what Israel and its citizens have accomplished, despite all the problems they face. It made me proud to be associated with these achievements in any small way. Countless issues were presented over the three day program, but two particular sessions blew me away because they showed how Israel is making the world a better place simply because it exists. One session was about an Ethiopian farmer who explained how poor and backward his nation is, and how hard it is for them to feed themselves. He then explained how Israel sent a team of agronomists that set up an Agricultural Training Center deep in central Ethiopia where they demonstrated and taught modern farming techniques
that were developed in Israel. Six hundred Ethiopians were trained in this center, and these 600 went on to train many thousands more. Then, this young Ethiopian came on stage to say how much he admires and supports Israel for making the effort to help his country increase the food available to them even while Israel has so many issues and concerns of their own. America gives lots of money to many nations, but we have the wealth and security to do this, while Israel has neither, but it does have the desire to help make the world a better place. The most emotional film presentation, at least to me, was given by a typical American non-Jewish guy from Pennsylvania who became a paraplegic as a result of a hunting accident. In the film, he explained that he simply was not going to give up on life, and was determined to do whatever he could to walk again. He then told about an invention of an exoskeleton that was recently developed by an Israeli doctor, and his hope to someday be able to use this device himself. At the end of the film, this man came on stage actually walking with the aid of his exoskeleton, and told us that he was very excited to be able to meet the inventor that had done so much to improve his life. What brought tears to my eyes, and I’m sure to most of the other 12,000 people in the audience, was when the Israeli inventor rolled out on stage in his wheelchair and explained that he was a quadriplegic and that his invention was unable to help him. Nevertheless, he was hopeful that with more time, effort, and Israeli inventiveness, maybe something could be developed in the future that could also help him. The audience gave this doctor a standing ovation, which he modestly acknowledged, but then explained that the best standing ovation was the one delivered by the Pennsylvanian that he had been able to help stand on his own. There were simply too many of these moments to tell about, and I’m not a good enough writer to even try to do justice to explain the wonderful experience that I had at AIPAC. All I can say is that you had to be there in person to experience it for yourself, and I hope that many of you will do just that. If not “Next Year in Jerusalem,” then the next best thing, and a very close best thing it will be, is “Next Year at AIPAC.”
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A time to honor and remember Yom Hashoah 2013 Sunday, April 7, 6:45 pm by Laine M. Rutherford
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ow often do memories of life during the Holocaust seep into Frank Grunwald’s mind? Every day—maybe 15 times or maybe 30—says this year’s guest speaker for the Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s commemoration of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. “Every third or fourth situation triggers a memory that goes back 65 years,” says Grunwald. “Everything triggers it. Eating a piece of dark bread triggers it. Putting on a pair of shoes in the winter triggers it. Picking up my grandchild triggers it— knowing that so many kids, beautiful kids, were killed.” The memories haven’t stopped Grunwald from speaking about his childhood to others, however. He’ll share the lessons he learned from his experiences and the importance of remembering with the community at the Holocaust Commission’s annual Yom Hashoah event held this year at Temple Israel, 7255 Granby St. in Norfolk. In addition to speaking to communities such as Tidewater, Grunwald’s story is showcased in the feature-length 2012 documentary Misa’s Fugue. The acclaimed film follows Grunwald’s life from his 1932 birth in Czechoslovakia to his journey through Prague, Terezin, Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Melk, and Gunskirchen, and his encounters with the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele and legendary artist Dina Babbit along the way. “It is imperative that we continue to hear these stories, in person, as much as we possibly can, to remember, to share with others, and to reinforce the importance of honoring our survivors and liberators, and to affirm our commitment to Holocaust education,” says Holocaust Commission director Elena Barr Baum.
The observance of Yom Hashoah begins on April 7 at 10 am at Congregation Beth El, 422 Shirley Ave. in Norfolk. The Beth El Men’s Club will sponsor the Reading of the Names, as the names of some of the six million who perished during the Holocaust are read aloud until 4 pm. The community is invited to listen and to participate. The evening program celebrates the Frank Grunwald power of the human spirit and the enduring faith of those who witnessed and survived the Holocaust. In a somber tribute, survivors, liberators, and righteous gentiles who reside in Hampton Roads, and their families, are invited to participate in a candle lighting ceremony. Songs and prayers are also a part of the program. Additionally that evening, the Holocaust Commission will recognize area student and teacher achievements in Holocaust education. The winners of the Holocaust Commission’s 16th Annual Elie Wiesel Writing Competition and the 11th Annual Elie Wiesel Visual Arts competitions will be announced, and some of the winning entries will be showcased at Temple Israel that evening. Awards for outstanding teachers will also be announced. Yom Hashoah is free and open to the public. For more information about the Yom Hashoah evening of remembrance, prayer and celebration, or Holocaust Commission
programs and events, visit www.jewishva.org/holocaust-commission, or call 757-965‑2323.
Yom Hashoah breakfast with Colonel Shames Sunday, April 7
he Men’s Clubs of Temple Israel and Kempsville Conservative Synagogue will co-sponsor a breakfast in Brody Auditorium at Temple Israel. Colonel Edward Shames who was in Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th PIR 101st. Airborne (“Band of Brothers”) is the guest speaker. He will share his experiences with the Band of Brothers and the liberation of concentration camps. Donation $5 or more (not mandatory) helps offset the cost of the breakfast. Call the temple office at 489-4550 for reservations.
Yom Hashoah — Sunday, April 7 Reading of the Names • Congregation Beth El • 10 am–4 pm Community Commemoration • Temple Israel • 6:45 pm 16 | Jewish News | March 25, 2013 | jewishnewsva.org
Scholarships and funds named for Ruthi Sherman Kroskin*
he family of Ruthi Sherman Kroskin* has established a Restricted Fund within the Tidewater Jewish Foundation to support Ruthi Kroskin Holocaust studies in the form of teacher or student scholarships, Holocaust training materials, and Holocaust education related marketing, with annual acknowledgment to the memory of Ruthi Sherman Kroskin*. The Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater has also named a teacher’s scholarship in Ruthi’s memory. This scholarship will be awarded annually based on a merit application as approved by the Educators’ Awards Committee of the Commission, for which Ruthi was a stalwart presence for many years. A former teacher and chair of the Holocaust Commission, Ruthi also chaired Yom Hashoah, the biennial educator conference, and was on almost every committee of the commission at one point. She was
one amongst many community leaders and volunteers who truly understood the importance of Holocaust education, and how it lends itself to imparting the crucial messages of tolerance and moral courage so important in today’s changing and interconnected world. While the results were “never about her,” her dedication and leadership resulted in Tidewater’s program becoming one of the finest programs in the country. At her family’s request, this scholarship is dedicated not only to Ruthi, but to all those who died in the Holocaust, and to the survivors, each of whom keep the flame alive for the lessons learned and relearned. The family expects to make additional contributions to this Fund, and welcomes contributions from others who also remember Ruthi with love and respect. At this time of the first Yom Hashoah in years without her, Ruthi’s many friends who will miss her that evening, now have another way to honor her memory. For more information, contact the Holocaust Commission, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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jewishnewsva.org | March 25, 2013 | Jewish News | 17
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Zachor by Emily Gissen Dreyfus
he word my mother, Linda Gissen, sculpted so beautifully, for every congregant to see and be reminded: REMEMBER. Remember the Holocaust. As very young Jewish children, our hearts and minds were indelibly ingrained with images and histories of the Holocaust. We were inundated with graphic stories and photos; even our songs such as The Last Butterfly reminded us to remember. What meaning can we extract from remembering? As a child, I watched my mother create a menorah of molten metal faces engulfed in flames. My mother, expressing her own anguish through her art, spent a large portion of her career creating Holocaust memorial sculptures. They can be seen throughout the country, from synagogues and private collections to the Rachel Weeping for Her Children, at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Richmond, Va., a collaborative effort between the late Bishop Walter Sullivan and my mom. As a Jew, in talking with other Jews, I know I am not the only one who is tormented by thoughts of remembrance. I’m sure this was not the intention of those who taught us, yet now that we do remember, what do we do with those shared memories? At times, images flow through my mind…the trains, the barracks, the pits of bodies, the skeletal figures behind barbed wire, the ovens…“remember,” “remember.” Like many, I have visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C., and volunteered with the local Holocaust Commission. It’s the least I could do. It is my obligation to keep the suffering alive. Isn’t it? Is it our obligation as Jews to keep the suffering alive? Is this how we must honor those who perished? Must we tour the camps through, “March of the Living?” Is it our spirits that must continue to suffer the deep sorrow, pain, and anguish regarding incomprehensible inhumanity? What would those who suffered and perished want us as Jews to remember? To continually retrieve the horror they endured? What would the Nazis want us to remember? Do the Nazis “win” when remembrances of their inhumanity fill our waking hours and haunt our nightmares with fear and despair? How can we have a collective paradigm shift in our psyche and outlook?
18 | Jewish News | March 25, 2013 jewishnewsva.org JN_Due3-8_Run3-25_Asphalt_DanceBrazil_Bianconi_AsYouLikeIt_Mice&Men.indd 2/12/13 | 11:37 AM 1
Our religion is not the only one that sees the redemptive power of suffering, yet what are we doing to make the suffering redemptive? How, as Jews, can we fill our souls with joy and compassion, rather than continually torment ourselves with memories of pain and suffering? Judaism has always been about remembering and the lessons we can learn in remembering. Isn’t that why Jews reread the same biblical stories year after year? Somehow remembering, especially remembering the suffering, became equated with sanctity. And we may reason if we remember the Holocaust without continuing to suffer, if we fill our hearts with too much joy, we are no longer pious. Our generation of Jews will never forget the horror we were taught, nor should we. Yet, as Jews we owe it to ourselves not to compound the suffering. Many Jews have “left the fold” because of Judaism’s emphasis on suffering. We eat horseradish and gefilte fish and search for broken matzah, remembering our ancestors as slaves, while our Christian neighbors eat chocolate bunnies and search for plastic eggs filled with jellybeans. In addition to being taught the horrors of the Holocaust and slavery, we are taught to remember Masada, the Inquisition, and the pogroms. Are we more pious because we have suffered and we keep the suffering alive? Must we feel guilty if we let this personal attachment to suffering go? Can we as Jews break this cycle and retain what it means to be Jewish? What is the essence of Judaism without all of its historical attachments to suffering? If the essence of Judaism is monotheism and compassion, than what makes our religion unique? That we have suffered in the name of Judaism? Can we retain our Jewish values, heritage,
and culture without our inherent attachment to suffering? Are we so attached to our historical identity as sufferers that we can’t let the suffering go? Are we afraid to let the suffering go? Are we afraid to truly enter the “Promised Land” of internal liberation, free from the shackles of fear and suffering? Can we at least allow ourselves to set foot on the fertile soil of joy? How can we do this? We remember the suffering. We can’t stop remembering. It is the nature of our humanity, but it does not have to be our identity. We can take this collective suffering and transform it, not only by cherishing our lives and the lives of those lost, but in recognizing that we can make life better for others. Tikkun Olam. Repair the Earth. This concept is as old as Judaism. Not only is it a commandment, but it can help to transform our personal and collective suffering as well. What do we do with the remembrance of our suffering? We reach into our collective souls and connect with the living, those who are suffering now, so that we may use the redemptive power of suffering to transform it into compassion and joy, so we may all reach the Promised Land, free from bondage. We can all transform our suffering into joy by helping to relieve the suffering in the world today. I just opened the door to my house, and there awaiting me on the step was a “richly, brightly, dazzling yellow butterfly.” Remembering can be sanctified. Zachor.
A Balancing Act Let my two year old D.C. born Grandson, Daniel, freely roam The horror-filled halls of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Let him bring his toddler’s Unbridled joy to inevitably bitter Learning of his severed roots, Forever remembered in our Nation’s Capital. Rabbi Zoberman, Congregation Beth Chaverim, Virginia Beach
m i r Pu
It was fishnets and hamentashen as the Temple Israel Players presented their annual Purim spiel to an (almost) SRO crowd last month
by Bobbie Fisher
emple Israel’s congregation knows to expect the unexpected on Purim: for the past several years, the Players have enriched each Megilla reading with an original (sort of) play, based on a popular Broadway show. The production is led by the indefatigable Jody Mazur, who with a small team of collaborators writes the narration, dialogue and lyrics, and also stages, choreographs, produces and directs the spiel, and acts, and sings a little. Previous Mazur Purim Productions have included Oys and Veys (loosely based on Guys and Dolls—or East Side Tsuris (inspired by West Side Story)—and Bye Bye Boychik (that one’s easy.) This year, Mazur enlisted the songwriting skills of Cheryl Dronzek, and the two set out to create a little something different. They knew it would be a stretch for the congregation, but they also knew the music was wonderfully adaptable to the story of Esther. And they knew the Temple Israel Players had the talent, the determination and the chutzpah to pull it off. And so The Rockin’ Hora Purim Spiel, a takeoff on The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the cult classic that had its world premiere in London in 1975 was created. The congregation was warned. And as they entered the foyer outside the sanctuary, a crudely lettered sign said Enter At Your Own Risk, evoking the sign outside the house of Dr. Frank N. Furter in the original show. Once inside, adorning the chairs on the bimah were bright red lips that lit up, flashing an implied invitation to sit down and prepare to be amazed. They sat, and they were amazed. And while none of the Players wore Dr. Frank N. Furter’s signature merry widow, each cast member wore fishnet stockings, and there was one cantor (who shall go unnamed) whose bikini bathing suit T-shirt drew cat calls and wolf whistles from those who weren’t laughing too hard to pucker. Fright wigs and funky hats topped every head, and there was enough glitter and black eyeliner on the cast members to circle the earth (or at least the sanctuary.) Each song drew cheers from the congregation, but the last song—Let’s Do the Hora Again (a parody of Let’s Do the Time Warp Again)—brought them to their feet, as the Temple Israel Players led them in a rousing rendition of Hava Nagilah. Despite the incredibly raucous service—Haman was duly booed and groggered at every mention and the wine flowed freely. The Megilla reading itself was meaningful and inspiring. Several new readers took a first turn at the special trope, and “mazel tovs” and “yasher koachs” were loud and heartfelt. Afterwards, the cast members greeted their grateful audience in the atrium, and they all ate hamentashen and wondered how the Temple Israel Players could ever top this year’s spiel. But not to worry—Mazur and her crew are already plotting Purim 5774.
Beth El celebrates the holiday
he Yellow “Brick” Road welcomed Congregation Beth El costumed congregants to the family reading of Megillat Esther on Saturday evening, Feb. 23. Following the Somewhere over the Rainbow inspired nusach for Havdalah, both the Scarecrow (AKA Cantor Gordon Piltch) and Cowardly Lion (AKA Rabbi Jeff Arnowitz), ably assisted by costumed teens and adults including Gary Baum, Cantor Elihu Flax, Dara Pomerantz, Kevin Tabakin, Rachel Goretzky, Andie Eichelbaum and Brad Lazernick, chanted the tale describing the events that took place long ago in Persia. Encouraged by the energetic cheerleading of Dorothy (Sharon Wasserberg), the crowd of costumed children, teens, and adults booed the evil Haman and celebrated the victory of the Jews. What made Purim at Beth El even more special this year was the joyous return of the Purim Shpiel! Linda Drucker and Linda Belkov spearheaded the drive to bring back this tradition and co-authored the play, and Mickey Held provided the directorial assistance. The key roles of King Ahashuarus (David Cardon), Queen Esther (Deb Segaloff), Mordechai (Paul Peck), and Haman (Adam Foleck) were joined by Ladies-in-Waiting (Sue Ellen Kaplan and Tami Arnowitz) and Servants (Brad Lazernick and Brad Bangel). A cute commercial was sung by Clara Zimm, and the entire shpiel was narrated by a quickly-changed-from-Cowardly-Lion-into-a-debonair-tuxedoed Rabbi Arnowitz and all were accompanied on the piano by Ina Mirman Leiderman. The packed audience in Myers Hall had adults sitting at tables munching goodies and sipping adult beverages, while the children made their way to Barr Hall for a magic show, hamantaschen, and other kid-appropriate treats. The celebration did not end there, however, as adults packed into Barr Chapel for a post-shpiel full reading of the Megillah. It was only at that point that the Beth El Collaborative went off to their celebratory Purim Party, hosted by Jason Rosenberg and Leah Katz. On Sunday morning, the Religious School continued the celebration of Purim with a Red Carpet event featuring a onceagain-debonair-tuxedoed Rabbi Arnowitz greeting students in front of a giant depiction of the Cowardly Lion, the Scare Crow and the Tin Man. Elegantly attired, the Director of Congregational Learning, Sharon Wasserberg, distributed props to students and then went on to conduct a riotous reading of Megillat Esther with the entire student body.
Virginia Wesleyan College hosts traditional Purim “Debate”
he 5th Annual LatkeHamantashen Invitational Debate, a heated intellectual battle to determine which was superior: the latke or the hamantashen, was hosted by Virginia Wesleyan College on Thursday, Feb. 21. Organized by Professor Eric Mazur, the Gloria & David Furman Professor of Judaic Studies at VWC, the debate pitted “Team Latke” (Harry Graber, Rabbi Gershon Litt, and Burle Stromberg) against “Team Hamantashen” (Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz, Betty Ann Levin, and Mazur) in a humorous, yet futile struggle to determine gastronomic dominance. An audience of more than 40, comprised of members of the local Jewish community, as well as VWC students, faculty, and administrators, cheered and jeered the combatants in true Purimshpiel fashion, and enjoyed kosher foods donated by Belkov Brothers, the Carolina Cupcakery, and Yorgo’s Bageldashery. The event was held to raise hunger awareness and donations of food and funds for Jewish Family Service and the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia. Contributions in honor of this momentous event are still welcomed. For information or to volunteer to participate next year, contact Mazur at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beth El brings Purim to Beth Sholom
n Purim afternoon, members of Congregation Beth El celebrated and enjoyed the holiday with some residents at Beth Sholom Village. The event was organized by the “Growing Together” group—a series for young families. Students in Beth El’s Confirmation class joined the families and helped facilitate the event. Children, parents, confirmation students and residents got creative decorating masks with colors and feathers. Everyone also joined in with some Purim songs. Carin Simon attended with her two boys and says, “We had a wonderful time with the Beth Sholom residents. It was great to be able to share some of our Purim activities with them.”
jewishnewsva.org | March 25, 2013 | Jewish News | 19
Larry Mestel joins JCC as general manager Membership, fitness and aquatics at the Simon Family JCC are now supervised by Larry Mestel, the center’s new general manager. Being active has always been a way of life for Mestel. As the youngest of seven in a very energetic family, he went to practices with siblings or his mother, who coached and taught classes. Now, he walks or swims an hour a day along with some light strength training several days a week. Mestel joined the JCC staff in Louisville as the sports director in 1993. “I was involved in everything sports related: preschool and day school classes and gym time, youth leagues, camps, adult leagues.” He also served as the head delegate for the Maccabi games from Louisville for 12 years. In 2001, Mestel was promoted to director of wellness and fitness, and held this position until 2008, when he had the opportunity to become general manager of the JCC in Cincinnati. “Cincinnati provided an opportunity to expand my skills in membership, marketing and sales, along
with computer service, spa services, personal training, Pilates, and management. We put all the systems into place and built a team of 105 on staff.” Mestel says he is Larry Mestel excited to be a part of the Simon Family JCC. “Based on my experience, it’s a great fit for me, and everyone here has been very welcoming.” Mestel’s short-term goals involve three areas. The first is the immediate “wow” factor, which includes first impressions—class offerings and the physical appearance of the fitness and aquatics center. The second area is systems; he will evaluate fitness and aquatics for efficiency and growth potential. Finally, he will help the JCC move forward. “My goal has always been providing lifetime skills for healthier kids and families.”
Temple Israel Sisterhood raises funds with Pre-Pesach dinner
DID YOU KNOW? ...We are helping provide resources to thousands of Israeli people who are caring for aging or disabled loved ones? Money raised here in Tidewater makes a real difference to real people every day.
TOGETHER WE DO EXTRAORDINARY THINGS.
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Karen Bazar, the new program chair for Temple Israel’s Sisterhood, came into the job with energy and action. To begin raising funds for refurbishing the Sandler Hall kitchen, Bazar and her sisters held a Pre-Passover Shabbat Dinner on Friday, March 3. More than 70 happy connoisseurs enjoyed her brisket, and tzimmes—assembled by Jane Popkin. Also featured were Laure Saunder’s baked apricot-wine chicken and Sephardic green bean casserole, Tasha Chapel’s pumpkinmatzah soufflé, kugels by Tina and Bernice Moses, chopped liver by Hariett Peltz, and
a salad that was a joint endeavor. A crew gathered by Susan Eisner produced a range of dessert treats. Children led the pre-meal blessings, and tables were decorated by painted Kiddush cups and colorful ceramic candlesticks created by the pre-school children. The next part of the fund-raising endeavor is a Passover Cookbook featuring the recipes enjoyed by the dinner’s participants. To augment those, the Sisterhood is now gathering a bounty of the best Passover delicacies from the families of Temple Israel. The book is due out later this year.
BINA at HAT = FUN by Chana Nerenberg, 11th grade student, BINA High School
An hour of fun between the BINA High School students and the girls in the fourth and fifth grades at Hebrew Academy of Tidewater, created many fond memories. On Tuesday, Feb. 19, the BINA girls showed up at HAT in festive Purim attire composed of funky accessories such as silly hats, sunglasses and a few rainbow suspenders ready to discuss the Yom Tov of Purim, partake in a Purim game and create an arts and crafts project. After the BINA girls talked about their school and discussed Purim with the HAT girls, the fun really began. The students were divided into five groups, with each group given a bag full of random items. Called “Skits in a bag,” all groups were
given the same items and had to come up with a skit using each item in the bag. The game’s object was not to use the items for their intended purpose. Next, the groups had a huge Purim mask to decorate. The catch was that they had to continue with the theme they used for their skits. The girls created beautiful masterpieces. After the program, the girls schmoozed and enjoyed hamataschen and candies.
Temple Israel creates exciting Outreach Program with Synagogue Federation Grant by Laine Mednick Rutherford
Temple Israel’s Outreach Program is not your mother’s outreach. The newly launched series of events that are part of the innovative program are mostly offsite, not necessarily religious, yet still provide a context that shows the warm and welcoming nature of the Conservative synagogue located on Granby Street in Norfolk. “Our goal is to reengage current members and also to attract unaffiliated members,” says Melissa Kass, the young adult temple member who is overseeing the program. “It’s a totally new concept that has allowed us to extend ourselves in a different way. We’ve brought our programming outside the synagogue—making it easier for people who have a certain perception of what belonging to a temple means, and allowing them to rethink that it’s not just all about services. There’s a community aspect to the concept, showing that Temple Israel
is made of people you can lean on in good times and in bad times.” Getting people to come to a Temple Israel event that they enjoy outside of the synagogue grounds is translating into increased comfort and intimacy when they do attend a service, a Shabbat dinner or holiday programming, Kass says. Kass and Temple Israel board members began exploring the idea of an outreach program when they learned of grant funding offered through the Synagogue-Federation Partnership of the Tidewater Jewish community, supported by the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, the Tidewater Jewish Foundation and the Simon Family Foundation. The Temple group put together a list of events they thought sounded interesting and came up with seven for the year. The programming is diverse; to date, events have included a Locavore Chanukah dinner using locally sourced foods at the Oceans condominiums, a trip to Ocean Breeze Waterpark in Virginia Beach, bowling at
the AMC Lanes in Chesapeake, and coffee with Temple Israel’s Rabbi, Michael Panitz, at Café Stella in Norfolk. Funding provided by the grant has enabled Temple Israel to open the programs to the entire community at minimal or no cost. Families, singles and older empty nesters are attending. “We find that when people make that first step, engaging in one thing, it’s easier to engage in the next thing. We want to engage people where they are, so we take our programs outside the synagogue, find something they enjoy and it’s easier to take that next step to even greater engagement,” explains Kass. “It helps Temple Israel, and it’s good for the greater community, too, for a couple of reasons,” says Kass. “Once you’re involved in one thing, it really does make it easier to become engaged in more things, and, for the community, to have a Jewish person engaged in something Jewish is great, no matter what that something is.” Philip Walzer, president of Temple Israel,
All is fair in love and opera.
expresses admiration both toward Kass and the Synagogue-Federation Partnership grant. “We appreciate the generosity of the Jewish Federation, the Tidewater Jewish Foundation and the Simon Family Foundation,” Walzer says. “This series has been a huge success, thanks to Melissa’s leadership. We’ve attracted a wide crosssection of congregants and non-members with a range of entertaining and innovative programs, and I’m looking forward to the remainder in the series, from our hike in First Landing to our Friday night Shabbat dinner.” Future events include Havdalah Under the Stars at a member’s house on April 27, A Day at the Park at First Landing in Virginia Beach on June 2, and Shabbat with Friends at Temple Israel on August 16. For more information, email email@example.com, or call Temple Israel, 757-489‑4550.
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Rabbi Litt’s Teen Trip to New York “This year’s trip to New York was fabulous. It changed my perspective on Judaism and I had an awesome time,” says Hannah Yarow, a student at Maury High School. Since 2002, the Norfolk Kollel has annually taken Jewish teens to New York for a weekend to never forget. “The memories that students have on this trip are often the basis of future decisions that they make later in their college years,” says Rabbi Gershon Litt, executive director of the Norfolk Kollel. “I have
received many calls and emails over the years from students saying that they spent Shabbos at Hillel on campus and thought back to our trip and how they had never spent a Shabbos like that anywhere else and they wanted to give it a try because of the trips they went on. To me, that’s success.” The annual teen trip to New York includes staying in a four-star hotel in Manhattan, going to Kosher restaurants, attending a Broadway production, seeing museums, meeting great people, participat-
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ing in an incredible Shabbat experience, and more. This year, the students saw the Broadway production of Spiderman, participated in a comedy workshop from an off-Broadway improv comedy troupe and attended a fantastic improv comedy show at the number one improv comedy club in Manhattan, Chicago City Limits. On Friday morning, the students began their journey with a The New York Teen Trip and Rabbi Litt at Rabbi Sauer’s house in Queens. very emotional experience, going to the new 9/11 memorial followed by the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park. In addition to Rabbi Litt, another staff member was an instant hit with the participants: Chana Brooke. A graduate of BINA High School and daughter of Jeff and Amy Brooke, she accompanied the trip as a madricha, staff person. “Having Chana on the trip was awesome. She took care of a lot of the logistical needs of the trip, was there for the students, and helped make the trip a huge success, says Litt. The real excitement of the trip was David Tessler and Blaike Laibstain at Madamme Shabbos. Every year Rabbi and Mrs. Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Manhattan. Yehoshua Sauer host the trip. “I love the Sauer family. They are so cool and everything about them is inviting,” says Andie Eichelbaum. The students arrive each year at their “Shabbat experience” not knowing what to expect. Students that have never been before and don’t come from a traditional background may not be familiar with all of the traditions and customs of the Shabbat. The Sauers make the students feel welcomed, loved, appreciated and proud to be Jewish. They make amazing Shabbos meals, bring in local Kew Garden Hills teenagers to meet them, sing songs that Dara Pomerantz at Madamme Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Manhattan. all the students get into, talk about deep subjects that stimulate their minds, and all Jewish students in Tidewater. “There is then show them a great time. Students stay nothing that makes me happier than to see up late talking, learning and playing ping- Jewish kids doing Jewish things. As Jewish pong. Each year the Sauers and their family leaders we need to bring Jewish programmake their home the student’s home for a ming to the students and not expect Jewish weekend. students to come to Jewish programming. “Being with the Sauer family is so awe- This has been my mantra for years and I some. I take every opportunity to be with hope to be able to offer these types of prothem. Their kids are cool, too,” says Gabby grams for years to come,” says Litt. Shelanski, a student at Maury High School. For more information, contact Rabbi Rabbi Litt offers this trip each year to Litt at 757-623-8672.
“Laughing like a Jew”
Chris Hanna (Photo Pam Manning) by Chris Hanna, artistic director, Virginia Stage Company
ulia Child often laughed about her experience being raised as a child on tuna noodle casserole in Southern California. It wasn’t until she was in her 20s and sat down to her first Parisian meal that she knew in her heart that she was actually French. Myself, I didn’t have to wait that late to discover my hidden identity—and it didn’t arrive with a foreign meal. No, all it took me as a young boy was a television dial and a typical evening in front of the TV with my Irish American family: Leave it to Beaver, Gilligan’s Island, The Beverly Hillbillies. Everyone around me laughing loud—and my wondering just what they found so funny. Then one particular evening the dial got moved to a program we didn’t usually
The Odd Couple by Neil Simon In this classic American comedy of opposites, old habits die hard, but friendship stays true. Newly divorced, a sloppy sportswriter and a fastidious news writer test their friendship by becoming roommates. Along the way, hilarity ensues as they fall back into the behaviors that troubled their ex-wives. April 2–April 21 ASL Signed Performance: Saturday, April 13, 8 pm Tickets: Previews April 2-4: $25 April 5–21: $38–$55 For tickets, call 757-627-1234 or visit www.vastage.com.
watch, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and came to life right away. The show’s two bickering side characters, Maury Amsterdam and Rosemarie, were my favorites. Their dry banter seemed so much funnier than the over the top guffaws of most sit-coms that I thought their dialogue was the funniest set of lines ever written. I asked my parents why more characters didn’t joke like that on the shows we watched and I still remember my mother’s somewhat startled response: “That’s Jewish humor, sweetheart.” The rest of the family was soon cackling again to Art Carney’s antics on The Honeymooners, but my mother’s explanation had been an inspiring springboard for me. Home alone on sick days I soon discovered Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Groucho Marx, Jerry Stiller, and my absolute all-time favorite: Burns and Allen. George Burns’ wry comments to the camera, cigar in hand, drove me to convulsing laughter every time. He was dead serious, pausing only when absolutely necessary for a sly smile suggesting, ‘laugh now if you want,’ like a dentist giving permission for a quick rinse between fillings. Somehow, by not trying to be at all funny, he was hilarious. So I had a Jewish sense of humor. Who knew? And because laughs were my passport through the countless discomforts of adolescence, I might as well have become a Bar Mitvah at 13 along with the rest of my Westchester classmates. By the time I entered my stage career years later, American theater seemed to have lost its sense of humor; particularly its Jewish humor. Regional theaters, like our wonderful Virginia Stage Company, had risen to prominence and they were focused primarily on producing culturally significant work. Back then comedy wasn’t considered cultural or significant unless written before 1800 (another Lysistrata anyone?) or by British playwrights. And within that rarified world of theatrical art, everyone agreed on the importance of banishing our public enemy number one: that old time Jewish jokester, Neil Simon. Simon’s plays had earned big profits for Broadway producers over decades, but artistic directors at regional theaters considered them pedestrian fluff. Audiences were allowed rhyming couplets of Twelfth Night and the mindless quips of Private Lives, but Neil Simon’s plays were left to community and high school stages.
Styles change everywhere, of course, and the stage is no exception. No change has made me happier within the theater world over the past decade than the reevaluation of Neil Simon’s talent. Although written decades past, his plays have never seemed more contemporary or funny than they do today. Like any great master of Jewish h u m o r (including Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, who came along after Simon’s heyday) Simon understood t h a t stories don’t have to be serious or funny. They can be both, and that can happen at the same time. Simon’s humor comes from the confrontation between human eccentricities and the realities of everyday living. What makes them so unique to us these days is that they manage to stay so warm hearted, even as they x-ray the human soul. Witty banter doesn’t take
Courtesy Virginia Stage Company
away the tsuris, but it sure makes for a lot of fun. For the characters of The Odd Couple, as for George Burns and Groucho Marx before them, cigars can be a big help, too.
Win 2 Tickets
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what’s happening Passion’s Tale: The love of Hebrew
T Run for the Health of it! Jewish Family Service of Tidewater’s 9th Annual Run, Roll or Stroll Neptune’s Park at 31st Street, Virginia Beach 8K Run, 5K Run/Walk or 1 Mile Run/Walk Sunday, May 5
unners and walkers know that running and walking help boost numerous health benefits such as weight loss, stress relief or just increase overall health. With the JFS Run, Roll or Stroll just six weeks away, JFS presents six reasons to participate in the event: 6. Participants get a cool T-shirt and a race bag filled with goodies and coupons. 5. Participants can dance to music and entertainment by Don London of 101.3 2WD. 4. Participants will raise endorphins, the “feel good” hormones—who doesn’t want to feel good? 3. 3 F’s: Fresh air, food and friends! 2. Not a runner/walker? Volunteer and
get the satisfaction of helping a good cause …and a free T-shirt! 1. Helping a great cause—Jewish Family Service. As the agency’s major fundraiser, this event helps JFS provide valuable and much-needed services such as home health care, counseling, Meals on Wheels, and financial assistance. For complete details about the Run, Roll or Stroll, and other Week of Healthy Living information, visit www.jfsrunrollorstroll.org. Interested in volunteering at the event? Contact Sue Graves at 757-321-2238. Interested in being a “Virtual Walker” (fundraiser) for JFS? Contact Jennifer Adut at 757-321-2240.
Jeff Lawson to speak at Beth Sholom Auxiliary’s Spring Luncheon
Thursday, April 11, 11:30 am
f April showers bring May flowers, what brings Jeff Lawson, WVEC Channel 13’s chief meteorologist, to Beth Sholom Village? The Annual Spring Luncheon presented by the Beth Sholom Auxiliary. Lawson will discuss “What’s Up with the Weather?” and will touch on topics ranging from global warming to hurricanes to why some winters are warmer than others. Lawson has been with WVEC since 1990. His first job was with Accuweather and he was also with WeatherCenter. Lawson says, “I was lucky enough to have studied with Dr. Vern Drozek who developed the Drozek Scale which measures hurricane intensity from satellite imagery.” The American Meteorological Society
lists Lawson as a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist. The Auxiliary will hold its luncheon at The Berger-Goldrich Home, 6401 Auburn Drive in Virginia Beach. Co-chairs for the Jeff Lawson luncheon are Roz Landres and Joyce Salzberg. Couvert is $20. Checks made out to the Auxiliary, should be mailed to Dee Dee Chovitz at 2424 Ocean Shore Crescent #402, Virginia Beach, VA 23451. For further information, call 428-0456. Membership is not required to attend.
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his is the story of Idit Benmor, Israeli, Norfolk resident, adjunct professor at Old Dominion University and lover of the Hebrew language. Once upon a time, there was a little girl growing up in Haifa, Israel. She spoke and read Hebrew like every other child in Israel. But, from an early age, she had a special relationship with her native tongue. She knew that Hebrew was unlike all other languages; it was the language of Moses, of Jeremiah, of Ezra, of Akiba, of Yehuda Hallevi, of Moshe Hayyim Luzzatto and of Eliezer Ben Yehuda. Hebrew is the Holy Tongue and the only ancient language to be successfully revived in modern times to become the national language of a modern state. In all of human history, there has never been a language whose development can compare to Hebrew. Benmor knew all this about her language and fell in love with it for life. She studied Hebrew at university, becoming a mumhit, an expert, in Hebrew language and literature. As an editor for Israel’s preeminent academic publishing house, she improved upon the linguistic usage of some of the greatest scholars in modern Israel. After marrying Gordon Piltch, now cantor at Congregation Beth El of Norfolk, Benmor began a teaching career in the United States, working at private Jewish
high schools and at universities. Eventually, she was engaged by The Jewish Theological Seminary of America to teach Hebrew to the future rabbis, cantors and educators of North America’s Jewish communities. Widely recognized as one of the finest instructors of Hebrew in the country, Benmor has brought her expertise to Tidewater. In addition to her work at ODU where she is an extremely popular instructor, she has been teaching a group of adult students at Temple Israel for the past two and a half years. The make-up of the class is diverse. Students are members of various local congregations and from outside the formal Jewish community. Through the medium of their teacher, all have become lovers of Hebrew as their levels of Hebrew knowledge continually increase. Now Benmor is opening a new class in beginner’s Hebrew at Temple Israel. A prerequisite for students would be at least a general knowledge of Hebrew phonetics (even if not able to read fluently, can still enroll). Those who want to commit to learning Hebrew from a master teacher are invited to contact the office at Temple Israel and enroll for a nominal sum. The plan is to begin in early May on Sundays, 11:15 am to 12:15 pm. This is a unique opportunity in Jewish intellectual and spiritual growth.
Celebrate Israel’s 65th
The politics of writing in Israel is topic of talk at ODU
Sunday, April 28, 12:30–5 pm
srael Festival at the Simon Family JCC, with Israeli food, fun inflatables, camel rides, a special community walk through Israel, Walk the Land 65 (www. walktheland65.org), and a musical performance by The Shuk! Look for upcoming details and news about the JCC’s biggest party of the year at www.simonfamilyj.org and in upcoming issues of Jewish News. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Journalism workshop June 17–June 28 The Virginian-Pilot is offering a free twoweek journalism workshop with sessions on reporting, writing, photography and design. The program is open to high school sophomores and juniors; promising freshmen will be considered. Visit www. hamptonroads.com/hsworkshop for applications and more information or call Denise Watson at 757-446-2504.
Sunday, April 14, 7 pm
avyon Liebrecht, the Internationally known Israeli writer and a daughter of Holocaust survivors, will speak at Old Dominion University about the politics of writing in Israel today. In her novels, short stories and plays, Liebrecht writes about Holocaust survivors and their children, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the Mizrakhi/ Ashkenazi disconnect, the secular/religious tension, as well as gender and aging issues. Born in 1948 in Munich, Liebrecht moved to Israel when she was a child and is the winner of numerous awards. The event takes place at the Batten Arts and Letters, Room 1012. Free parking next to the building, 43rd and Hampton Blvd. Refreshments served. RSVP to Farideh Goldin at email@example.com.
what’s happening Creation of A State
Singer Noa performs in Simon Family JCC/ Virginia Art Festival collaboration
Wednesday, April 11, 7 pm
Tuesday, April 16, 7:30 pm by Leslie Shroyer
oa, or Achinoam Nini, may not be a well-known singer in the United States, but she’s been a huge star in Israel and Europe since she launched her career two decades ago. At 43, she hopes her three-week tour beginning in mid-April will enrich the audiences she performs for in this country. The Virginia Arts Festival brings Noa to the TCC Roper Performing Arts Center in Norfolk in a performance co-presented with the Simon Family JCC. Born to a Jewish family of Yemenite descent in Israel, Noa and her family moved to New York when she was a baby, and returned when she was in her late teens. After serving the mandatory two years in the Israeli Army in a military entertainment unit, Noa studied music at the Rimon School, where she met her long-time partner and collaborator Gil Dor. “We worked so well together that he became my John Lennon and I am his Paul McCartney,” she says from her home in Israel. Noa’s International break came in her mid-twenties, when her album Noa was produced by Pat Methany. The young artist wrote and sang all of the songs on the album with Gil Dor, and the two have made five more international and four Israeli albums. Noa’s music is most prominently influenced by the singer-songwriters of the 1960s, such as Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and James Taylor. As a duo, she and Dor perform her songs as well
as pop, rock, blues, R&B, country, country western, folk, and Yemenite in many different languages on stages all over Israel and Europe. Since the mid 90’s, Noa has been heavily involved with the peace movement in the Middle East, dedicating a great deal of time to peace related projects and events. In 2009, Noa, together with Arab-Israeli singer Mira Awad, represented Israel at Eurovision Song Contest 2009 with the song There Must Be Another Way. For her American tour, Noa will be accompanied by Dor, as well as percussionist Gadi Seri and will be joined by a string quartet from New York comprised of Juilliard graduates. “This tour won’t just be me performing my original works,” she says. “It will be based mostly on the songs I grew up on, paying homage to Israeli songs of the mid 20th century, songs from my 2010 album Israeli Songbook.” “I first heard of Noa when the United Jewish Federation proposed a collaboration back in 1998 during our second season,” says Rob Cross, director of The Virginia Arts Festival. When he researched her music, he was delighted by what he heard. “She was a huge success back then because she performs world music and pop music, and is a huge international talent. It is an honor for us to bring this Jewish cultural treasure back to this area.” At press time, Noa was preparing for a performance for President Obama during his visit to Israel. She says she looks forward to her less frequent tours in the Unites States. “I want to move hearts and open minds on this tour,” she says. “We all pray in the temple of the God of music.” For tickets and information, go to vafest.org, call 757-282-2822 or visit the VAF Box Office, 440 Bank Street in Norfolk (M-F, 10am-5pm). For a youtube video of Noa, go to http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=8RzhbqVsyc0.
Ohef Sholom Temple Sisterhood fundraiser Used books, media, games and more sale Sunday, April 7, 9 am–3 pm Items will include gently used books, video and board games, CDs, DVDs, craft and scrapbooking supplies. At Ohef Sholom Temple, 530 Raleigh Ave. in Norfolk. Call 757-625-4295 for more information.
by Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg
asing Israel’s claim to her land and right to exist on today’s media reports, could lead you to believe that our connection to the region goes back merely a few decades. But we all know that ancient history supports that Jews have, in fact, the longest and deepest relationship with the land of Israel of any other peoples. Some cities, like Jericho, date back 10,000 years, and hundreds of civilizations have been unearthed all over the country baring witness to Jewish life in Israel for millennia. The Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater will hold the fourth in a series of Step Up for Israel Films at Ohef Sholom Temple. This one, entitled, Creation of a State, will examine events leading up to the establishment of the State of Israel and explore lesser-known facts about its creation. While many are aware, many do not realize, that Israeli troops were so outnumbered in this defensive war, that, according to Yitzhak
Rabin, “victory—even the survival of Israel itself—seemed like lunacy.” Other questions answered in the film are: what is the basis of today’s “Green Line,” behind which settlements are disputed or occupied, and is this “line” a reasonable starting point for negotiated borders for two states of Israel and Palestine living side by side? Or how is it that Israel has, and continues to, absorb Jewish refugees from Arab and other lands, while the Arab countries did not, and have not, absorbed the refugees who resulted from the War of Independence or those that have come since? Or why has Israel managed to make the swamp and desert land upon which it rests green, fertile and productive, while its neighbors, with similar topography, have not? This will be a fascinating look at this unbelievable period in Israel’s, the Jewish people’s, and the world’s history. To RSVP or learn more about this important series, visit www.JewishVA.org/CRC or email JJohnson@ujft.org.
Israel: Two Opportunities to deepen your connection Saturday, April 13, 9:30 am and Sunday, April 14, 6 pm by Rabbi Michael Panitz Liebrecht will join Temple Israel for he relationship that a Jew feels Shabbat services and speak to the congregawith Israel goes much deeper tion just before the conclusion of worship. than the news headlines, which Her address will begin at approximately focuses on the frustrations of diploma- 11:30 am. After services, stay for lunch to cy and politics, leaving our yearning for continue the conversation more informally. human connections unsatisfied. On Sunday, April 14, at 6 pm, the Leading up to Israel’s Independence Day, congregation will host an Israeli Memorial Temple Israel will host two special events Day program. Following the pattern of to help explore the human reality of Israel. Yom Ha-Zikaron as it is observed in Israel, Both are open to the community. the evening will feature commemorative On Saturday morning, April 13, Temple readings, songs and prayers. Israel Defense Israel will host the second of two Author Forces veterans and their spouses will light in Residence Sabbaths, featuring prize-win- memorial candles to honor those who have ning Israeli novelist, Savyon Liebrecht. One fallen in defense of the Jewish state, ever of Israel’s best known novelists, she is now since its inception, and also Israeli victims beginning to win world-wide acclaim. The of terrorism. After the program, people are eldest child of Polish-Jewish Holocaust sur- invited to an Israeli-style dinner. There is vivors, born in a displaced person’s camp in no charge, but a collection will be taken for Germany, in 1948, Liebrecht made aliyah in Yad LaBanim, an Israeli organization dedi1950. Her novels and short stories deal sen- cated to helping the widows and orphans of sitively with the special nature of Holocaust fallen Israeli soldiers. memory within Israeli society. She has won A large and diverse turnout is expected recognition for her works: Apples from the at this event, comprising Jewish and also Desert: Selected Stories, A Man and a Woman Christian friends of Israel. Call the Temple and a Man: A Novel, A Good Place for the Israel office, at 489-4550, by Monday, April Night: Stories, and The Women My Father 8, so that the organizers can prepare dinner Knew: A Novel. in sufficient quantity.
jewishnewsva.org | March 25, 2013 | Jewish News | 25
what’s happening The Rule of Law
Hitler eroded it as an early step toward dictatorship— The Nuremberg Trials restored it Exhibit at ODU: April 2–April 30 Panel discussion at ODU: April 11, 6:30 pm by Susan R. Blackman, Esq.
In 1932, Germany’s Weimar Republic had a democratically elected president and Parliament. The Weimar constitution guaranteed equality before the law, freedom of religion, free speech, and citizens’ rights to acquire property and pursue a trade. The legal profession was vibrant and diverse. Lawyers represented citizens in courts to protect their rights under the law. In many German cities, a significant portion of the lawyers and judges were Jewish. Long before the Nazi SS enforcers sent six million Jews and five million other “non-Aryans” to concentration (death) camps, they seized Jewish citizens’ property and stripped their livelihoods. Did the victims of property seizures seek legal recourse in German courts? Did they hire Jewish lawyers to file claims over what was unfairly taken? Adolf Hitler took measures that prevented those victims from engaging their brethren to seek restoration of their legal rights. In March 1933, the German Parliament relegated full legislative power to Chancellor Hitler. That same month, Hitler issued a decree barring Jewish lawyers and Judges from German courts. Consequently, the legal experts who might have been most likely to represent those Jews who had their property or livelihoods taken were no longer able to do so. An extraordinary exhibit entitled “Lawyers without Rights: Jewish Lawyers under the Third Reich” chronicles Jewish lawyers who were impacted and the con-
sequences of Hitler’s erosion of the Rule of Law. The exhibit was created by the German Federal Bar to teach the lessons learned from this era and has been shown in more than 80 cities worldwide. The exhibit will be displayed for public viewing at the Old Dominion University Library from April 2 to April 30 and will move to Virginia Beach for Law Day in May. On April 11, ODU will host a reception and discussion (see article below). The Virginia Beach Law Day celebration on May 2 will feature a panel discussion with the Honorable U.S. Senior District Judge Henry Coke Morgan, Jr. and Sandra Schulberg, who will present actual film excerpts of the Nuremberg Trials, which restored the Rule of Law in Nazi-occupied lands. Susan R. Blackman, Esq. is a partner at Willcox & Savage, P.C. She is listed in Best Lawyers in America for both Employment Law and Immigration Law. She serves as vice-president of the Federal Bar Association Hampton Roads Chapter, as treasurer of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, and as Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Denmark.
Lawyers without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany Under the Third Reich Thursday, April 11, 5:30–8 pm
n exhibit and panel discussion at Old Dominion University will explore what happens when the rule of law is obliterated. The program begins at 6:30 pm with opening remarks by The Honorable G. William Whitehurst, Ph.D. former U.S. Congressman and professor of History and Political Science at Old Dominion University. A panel discussion featuring The
Honorable U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division; Professor Frederick Lubich, Ph.D. professor of German, Old Dominion University; with moderator Susan R. Blackman, Esq., Willcox & Savage, P.C. follows. This event is free and open to the public. R.S.V.P. by April 8 to Farideh Goldin: firstname.lastname@example.org.
26 | Jewish News | March 25, 2013 | jewishnewsva.org
New build out of Beginnings Infant and Toddler Care Center at the Simon Family JCC by Leslie Shroyer
Beginnings is the Simon Family JCC’s full day program for babies six weeks through 2½ years. Its youngest charges (six weeks–approximately 16 months old) have recently moved to a new, more spacious area to accommodate more babies and anticipated demand. Thanks to a generous donation and a talented muralist, Beginnings Infant and Toddler Care Center is everything a parent would want for their little one. Brandon Terkeltaub wanted to make a gift to the Simon Family JCC through the Tidewater Jewish Foundation. He chose Beginnings because he was a “lifer” at the JCC himself. “I grew up at the JCC in Norfolk,” says the recent ODU graduate. “I went to JCC preschool and spent my summers at JCC camp.” It made sense to help build something for the very young at the Simon Family JCC, in the hopes that children grow and thrive at the JCC as he did he says. As luck would have it, Terkeltaub’s employer matched his gift, which funded the complete build out of Beginnings this winter. There are hundreds of employers who will match employee’s monetary gifts to charitable organizations. The Tidewater Jewish Foundation encourages employees to ask their company about matching policies. “TJF can easily facilitate these gifts, as we did with Mr. Terkeltaub,” says Shelby Tudor, donor services manager of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation. “The process is simple, and the donor then has a vehicle in place to process subsequent gifts.” In their new location, babies are separated by partitions into pre-crawlers, or “wee ones” and crawlers or “wobblers.” In the quiet sleep rooms, children nap in personalized cribs, soothed by the sound of white noise generators, and comforted with pictures of each baby’s parents. Little ones are provided with their own cubby as well as all new and clean equipment, diaper changing area, strollers, and toys. “It’s been a great change for us,” says Tracie Guy-Decker, director of marketing and communications at the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and the Simon Family JCC, and mother of Ruthie, an 11-month-old at Beginnings. “Ruthie sleeps much better because the new sleep room is quieter. When she sleeps better here, her sleep patterns improve, and she sleeps better at night, too.”
Brandon and Paul Terkeltaub.
Muralist Catherine Shearon.
Brightening the walls of the Infant Care area are delightful murals by Catherine Shearon, who painted faux finishes and murals in California full time, participating in art shows, designing galleries and decorating her own home with her wall creations. Since moving to Virginia as a military spouse, she has rented and can’t paint murals in her own house. “I was itching to do a mural for the JCC,” she says the mother of two young girls. Shearon donated her time to paint murals of beach scenes in the JCC babysitting area last year, to the delight of the members and staff. Shearon was asked to use her talents again to create murals in the Infant Care space. Baby animals and Noah’s Ark now greet babies and parents each day, with colors and images that make children of all ages smile. “My kids and I are always here,” says Shearon, who coaches a K-2nd grade basketball team at the JCC. “When we’re not in basketball, we take Brickheadz and swim classes, and I work out in the fitness center. I love the JCC, so when I heard the new Infant Care room needed brightening up, I knew I could help.” If you haven’t stopped by Beginnings lately, a quick peek is in order. Call Becky Feld 321-2332 or email email@example.com for a tour. The center is open from 7:30 am–6 pm Monday through Friday.
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band, William Kopelman, the 38-year-old Barrymore is having six tattoos removed so that she can be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Apparently the array that will disappear after painful surgery are a bouquet of flowers on her hip, a butterfly on her stomach,
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n Family JCC Go o m Si TOURNAMENT lf
A P RIL 7, S UND AY Brith Sholom ’s m e e t i n g w ill t a k e p la c e a t B e t h S h o l o m H o m e. B o a r d M e e t i n g b e g i n s a t 10 a m. G e n e r a l M e e t i n g a t 11 a m f o ll o w e d b y b r u n c h a t 12 p m. A pril 8, M o nday Ninth Annual Grieving Children’s Art Show o p e n s a t t h e L e o n F a m il y A r t G a ll e r y a t t h e S a n d l e r F a m il y C a m p u s. 75 7- 4 5 9 - 4 6 4 0. A pril 11, T hur s day Film and Discussion a s a p a r t o f t h e C o m m u n i t y R e la t i o n s C o u n c il ’s S t e p U p f o r Is r a e l s e r i e s. Wa t c h a s h o r t f il m, C r e a t i o n o f a S t a t e e n d e n j o y dis c u s si o n f o ll o w i n g t h e f il m w i t h R a b b i R o z M a n d e lb e r g. O h e f S h o l o m Te m p l e, 5 3 0 R a l e ig h Av e n u e, N o r f o l k , 7 p m. F r e e a n d o p e n t o t h e c o m m u n i t y. R S V P t o Jj o h n s o n @ u j f t .o r g o r 3 21- 2 3 8 8. S e e p a g e 2 5 f o r m o r e i n f o. Lawyers without Rights : J e w is h L a w y e r s i n G e r m a n y U n d e r t h e T h i r d R e i c h. 5:3 0 – 8 p m a t O l d D o m i n i o n U n i v e r si t y. P a n e l d is c u s si o n w i t h o p e n i n g r e m a r k s b y T h e H o n o r a b l e G. W illia m W h i t e h u r s t , P h D. F r e e a n d o p e n t o t h e p u b li c. R S V P t o F a r i d e h G o l d i n, f g o l d i n @ o d u.e d u.
A P RIL 14, S UND AY Tikkun Tidewater , a d r i v e - t h r o u g h c o m m u n i t y r e c y c l e d a y p r e s e n t e d b y t h e C o m m u n i t y R e la t i o n s C o u n c il, J F S, TJ F, YA D a n d B B Y O i n a p r o j e c t o f J - S e r v e. C h e c k w w w.j e w is h v a.o r g / r e c y c l e t o s e e w h a t i t e m s t o s t a r t s a v i n g t o p a r t i c ip a t e. 1– 4 p m o n t h e S a n d l e r F a m il y C a m p u s. F o r m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n o r t o v o l u n t e e r, c o n t a c t J J o h n s o n @ u j f t .o r g. Send submissions for calendar to news@ujf t.org. Be sure to note “calendar” in the subject. Include date, event name, sponsor, address, time, cost and phone.
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28 | Jewish News | March 25, 2013 | jewishnewsva.org
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obituaries Annette Aronoff Brenner Virginia Beach—Annette Aronoff Brenner passed away peacefully on February 26, 2013 surrounded by her family. Born in Newport News on Jan. 9, 1921, Annette was one of five children of Isadore and Bertha Aronoff. She graduated from Newport News High School, and then worked during World War II as an administrative assistant at Fort Monroe. She married Benjamin Fred “Buck” Brenner in 1950, and they had two children, Theodore (Ted) and Stuart. The couple worked side-by-side running Brenner’s Warwick Bakery in Newport News, along with Buck’s brother, David and wife Ada and the sons’ father Hyman Brenner. Buck died in 1985, shortly after selling the bakery. Ted and Stuart say their mother, who was active in the women’s auxiliary at Adath Jeshurun Synagogue in Newport News, lived a life of quiet dignity. Several years after her husband’s passing, she moved from the family home in Newport News to an apartment in Norfolk. Just over two years ago, she entered the Terrace assisted living facility at Beth Sholom Village where she lived until her death. Annette stayed in touch with her large extended family through regular birthday and anniversary cards. Her handwriting was as exceptional as the warm thoughts she expressed. Like her husband and sons, she grew to love sports, particularly the Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Braves. Mrs. Brenner, who was predeceased by her brother Marcus Aronoff and sister Harriet Klavan, is survived by two sisters, Gerline Lerner and Rebecca Green; her son Ted of Richmond, Va., his wife JoAnn and their daughters Beth and Debra; and her son Stuart of Harrisburg, Penn., his wife Rene and their sons Benjamin and Jason. Ted and Stuart express their heartfelt gratitude to the staff at Beth Sholom Village and Medi Home Heath and Hospice for the outstanding care they provided their mother. A graveside service took place at the Hebrew Cemetery in Hampton. Rabbi Michael Panitz of Temple Israel in Norfolk, Annette’s final home synagogue, presided. Contributions may be made in Mrs. Brenner’s memory to Beth Sholom Village in Virginia Beach. Peninsula Funeral Home. Helene Eisenberg Virginia Beach—87 passed March 12, 2013. Altmeyer Funeral Home.
Esther S. Feldman Portsmouth—Esther Feldman, 93, a native of Brooklyn, New York and widow of Sidney Feldman, died peacefully on March 12, 2013. She is survived by daughters Marilyn and Marjorie Feldman, two sisters, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Esther was a long-time employee of the Marine Corps Exchange and Old Dominion University. A graveside service was held at Chevra Thilim Cemetery in Portsmouth. Memorial donations may be made to Evelyn’s Wildlife Refuge, 2633 Highland Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23456. Condolences can be made at www.altmeyer.com. Mary Green Levinstein Norfolk—Mary Levinstein, beloved mother of Irwin and David and motherin-law of Janna and Susan, passed away peacefully at DePaul Hospital, Friday morning, March 6, 2013, at the age of 97. She was known for her charm and wit and many years of volunteer service to Bethesda North Hospital in Cincinnati and to Na’amat USA, which helps women and children in Israel. She received an award from the hospital in honor of 25,000 volunteer hours. She was grandmother of five and great grandmother of five. During their many years of good health, Mary and her husband Moses annually visited their family in Israel. She was predeceased by Moses, a metallurgical engineer for General Electric and naval commander, and her siblings Dorothy, Meyer, and Louis. She is survived by her younger sister Helen Lerner of Phoenix, Ariz.; her younger son, David, a family therapist in Jerusalem, Israel; her elder son, Irwin, a professor at Old Dominion University; her daughtersin-law Janna, an attorney for the federal government, and Susan, a retired director of a school for special needs children in Jerusalem; all 10 of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. Services were private. Donations in remembrance of Mary may be made to Na’amat USA at http://www.naamat.org/ donate/. Online condolences may be sent to the family at hdoliver.com. Nelson Posner Virginia Beach—Nelson Posner, 84, of the 5900 block of Woodstock Ct. Virginia Beach, died February 27, 2013 at Beth Sholom Home in Virginia Beach. Mr. Posner was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.,
the son of the late Hyman Posner and Pearl Reisfield Posner. Mr. Posner was a 1950 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He was a veteran of the United States Army and was stationed in Germany during his service overseas. He worked as a stockbroker for over 40 years. He was a member of Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk, was a past president of Brith Sholom, and was a longtime member of the Norfolk Sports Club. Mr. Posner was an avid baseball fan and enjoyed going to see the Norfolk Tides play. Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Ruth Posner, his daughter Linda Nichols and her husband Donnie of Chesapeake; son Matthew Posner and his wife Karen of Cary, N. C.; Three grandsons; Tyler Nichols, Phillip Nichols, and Wyatt Posner. Mr. Posner is also survived by a sister Miriam Salvich of Marco Island, Fla. A graveside service was conducted at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk by Cantor Wally Schachet-Briskin. H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts. Online condolences may be shared at www.hdoliver.com.
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Face to face
Betsy Karotkin and Jennifer Adut: Judaism, Pray it Forward
by Karen Lombart
etsy Oasis Karotkin and her daughter, Jennifer Karotkin Adut both treasure their Jewish heritage. As mother and daughter, their stories are intertwined, and yet their journeys are completely different. “Life, like art, is full of surprises,” says Karotkin. An artist for more than 30 years, she has had a pottery studio in her home, spinning clay into art forms. “When you first start working with the raw material, you usually have a vision of its final appearance. However, the artistic process is not linear; there are lots of twists and turns.” Jewish identity also evolves through one’s lifetime, growing from one’s desire to learn, metered by opportunity and filtered through one’s personal lens. Adut, also an artist, and now a mother of three-year old twins, adds, “I’ve heard that there are three experiences that mold a Jewish child’s identity: summer camp, a trip to Israel, and attending a Hebrew day school. My hope is that my children feel a sense of fullness and integration throughout their lifetimes, embracing the vibrancy of their heritage from their earliest years.” Quite expectantly, mother, daughter and grandchildren will have their own stories to tell based on their education, needs and observance. Betsy Karotkin’s maternal grandfather was an Orthodox Jew who emigrated from Lithuania, always proud to be a Litvak. On Saturdays, the house was filled with the sound of opera. But on Sundays, it was the laughter of grandchildren who came to visit. Karotkin cherishes the memories of singing the classics from the American Songbook with all of her cousins. When she was young, Karotkin remembers discovering that her father, born in Iassi, Romania, was a “Kohen.” Sadly, as an adult, she never had the opportunity to speak to him about his upbringing because he died prematurely. Born in Hartford, Conn., her mother was a strongwilled American woman who modeled the importance of family and helping others. As an only daughter with three brothers, Karotkin’s Jewish experience was nurtured by the preparation of traditional foods and the celebration of Passover. “I can still see my grandmother sitting in the kitchen, tasting my mother’s tzimmes each hour, and telling her what it needed. And, no one, absolutely no one, made taiglach like my
mother,” she muses. Known for her own love of cooking, Karotkin stays inspired by the generations before her. Filling a niche in Hartford, Karotkin’s father owned three greeting card shops that also sold books and Catholic religious articles such as rosary beads and statues. Some of the adult novels found their way into the Karotkin home. When she was in third grade, Karotkin discovered in her toy chest, a book called The Scourge of the Swastikas: A Short History of Nazi War Crimes. Reading about the Holocaust and its medical experiments left a deep impact on her, which resurfaced, many years later, as her motivation for working at the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. Always studious, Karotkin enjoyed Sunday School at Temple Beth Israel from kindergarten through 12th grade. With thousands of members, her Reform synagogue employed a young assistant rabbi who was very involved with the youth, especially during the upper grades. “I always had great teachers, and I really cared about being Jewish. However, we never practiced any rituals or traditions in our home to reinforce my Sunday school learning,” she notes. During summer camp, Karotkin’s Jewish identity blossomed, as a result of socializing with hundreds of Jewish kids. “If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would fund a three year Jewish summer camp experience for 10 to 12 year olds,” remarks Karotkin. “As an impressionable teen,” she adds, “camping provides a time of discovery, questioning and growth in a sheltered environment that makes it safe to find the joy in Jewish practice.” Active in NEFTY, the New England Federation of Temple Youth, Karotkin was the editor of the Jewish newspaper for her peer group. She loved to write, keeping a diary from seventh grade through college. Her husband, Ed’s, name, appears in the pages of her earliest entries. “The first time he walked me home from school,” she reminisces, “we went through muddy fields. I ruined a new pair of $5 loafers, but it was a small price to pay for the beginning of our love affair.” On an accelerated tract in high school, Karotkin was permitted to enroll in a class at Trinity College in Hartford, called “The Old Testament.” She loved her teacher and the chance to study Torah from a more academic perspective. Off to Brown for four years, she graduated in 1966, a bride of six months. Due to Ed’s medical training, the
30 | Jewish News | March 25, 2013 | jewishnewsva.org
Betsy Karotkin, Gabriel Adut, David Adut, Orli Adut, Jennifer Karotkin Adut, and Ed Karotkin.
Karotkins relocated several times before moving to Providence, R. I. where he began his fellowship in Neonatology at Brown University. Although the local Jewish community was very small, the young couple wanted to affiliate. They joined a tiny Reform congregation, which they frequently attended, truly enjoying the young rabbi’s guitar playing at Kabbalat Shabbat services. Jennifer Karotkin Adut’s first Jewish memory, at seven years old, was the stomach ache she had from eating way too many brownies at the synagogue’s Oneg Shabbat. By the time Jennifer was eight, the family was lighting Shabbat candles. Karotkin retrieved her grandmother’s candlesticks from the back cabinets after she witnessed her two-year-old son, Jesse, sing Happy Birthday at a Chanukah menorah lighting. That same year, Jennifer attended the Reform Movement’s Henry S. Jacobs Camp (a UAHC, now URJ camp) in Utica, Miss., while her younger sister, Hallie, tagged along. With Jewish education during the day, Jewish programming at night, singing, blessings and a whole day dedicated to Shabbat’s celebration, summer became the time to relax into the spirit of Judaism. After the girls’ first summer away, Karotkin became the pottery counselor, teaching the campers to make their own Judaica out of clay—Kiddush cups, mezzuzot, honey pots, Shabbat candlesticks, and more. It was this experience of teaching pottery at Henry S. Jacobs Camp that really taught her the importance of Jewish camping. Adut’s father, Dr. Ed Karotkin, joined them to become the camp’s physician for two weeks each summer. In 1978, the Karotkin family moved
to Virginia Beach and finally settled down long enough to be in a Jewish community for more than one year. Instead of developing a passion for Judaism, however, summer camp introduced Jennifer to a new hobby—horseback riding. Although she attended Sunday School and afternoon Hebrew School, most of her free time was spent in a barn. An undergraduate student at University of Virginia, Adut majored in Fine Arts, and made no effort to be part of any organized Jewish activities. During her junior year in Italy, however, she found a synagogue to attend High Holiday services and a Passover seder. As an outsider in a predominantly Catholic country, Jennifer began to explore her own religious heritage. Ever spontaneous, she loved to travel and was always planning her next adventure. Phoning her parents from Italy one day, she asked casually, “Would you meet me in Israel in three weeks?” Twentyone days later, the three were riding on horseback in the Galilee and sightseeing throughout Israel. Enamored with the country, Jennifer vowed to return to Israel. After college in 1991, despite the threat of a Gulf War, she made her dream come true. Ironically, her mother, then assistant director of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, cancelled a Mission, knowing that the State Department advised against traveling to the Middle East. Not worried, Adut made her way to Kibbutz Revivim in the Negev, staying one year, happily picking peaches and avocados. Once a week, she traveled to the famous Bezalel Art Institute in Jerusalem to take a class in metalsmithing.
Face to face Back in the States, Adut received her Master’s Degree in Fine Arts at Indiana University. While on campus for three years, she was a weekly visitor to the Chabad House, becoming close friends with the rabbi and his wife. Adut admits, “After living in Israel, I wanted to participate more. Traditional Judaism appealed to me—it felt real and timeless.” Her mother continues, “Jennifer was always a voracious reader, so studying text came naturally.” Upon graduation from IU, Adut moved to Washington, D.C. for 10 years, creating jewelry for galleries, and working in the non-profit world. “Many of my friends were very knowledgeable and fully observant. I learned so much from the modern Orthodox and Orthodox communities in D.C. I saw young people fully committed to leading Jewish lives, but also participating in the modern world. I found it inspiring.” In 2004, Jennifer met her husband, David, when he was teaching at American University, and she was working for Jewish Women International, formally B’nai Brith Women. In 2005, they were married at Beth El and soon moved to Cincinnati. Back in Tidewater in 2011, David joined the faculty
who had become ill and recently moved to Tidewater. With time, she happily planned her two daughters’ weddings and welcomed seven grandchildren into the world. “I’ve been so fortunate,” she confesses. “I have had the most wonderful husband and family. Ed has always been so supportive—in my professional career, my artistic endeavors, and in our home.” Karotkin has enjoyed these later years watching her family grow, traveling with Ed for Physicians for Peace, chairing its Gala these past two years, and sitting on several local agency boards: Holocaust Commission, ODU’s Institute of Jewish Studies and Interfaith Relations, Congregation Beth El and The Virginia Arts Festival. “Growing older has given me a better understanding and appreciation of those who came before me,” Karotkin notes. “How often I think about the painful decision that my grandparents made to leave their parents, their friends, and their countries of Romania and Russia in order to preserve their Jewish way of life. I accept the responsibility they passed on to me and hope that, despite living in a much more secular age, my grandchildren
will also understand the importance of Judaism for themselves and for the world. It becomes incumbent upon each generation to make the conscious decision to embrace Judaism.” Adut would like to provide her children with a strong Jewish foundation so that it becomes the lens from which they see the world. “I want them to know Jewish ritual, prayer, history and Hebrew from their earliest years, integrating its sophistication and nuances as they mature.” The three-year old twins attend Strelitz Early Childhood Center, and the Aduts plan to enroll them as HAT students for their elementary school years and send them to a Jewish overnight camp. Each week on Shabbat morning, the Karotkins and the Aduts are found sitting together in the sanctuary at Beth El. Towards the end of the service, both parents and grandparents watch the twins run up to the bima to receive their weekly chocolate kiss along with the other young children. Experiencing the shared moment, each person’s reflections mirror his or her personal journey, and yet together they know that it is their shared legacy that gives them a lifetime blueprint for celebration.
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at Christopher Newport University, while Jennifer began working for Jewish Family Service in fundraising. Teaching fourth grade at Beth El’s Sunday School, she is now following in her mother’s footsteps. For years, Karotkin was celebrated as the “Teacher of the Year” on Education Night for her time as a Sunday School teacher at Temple Emanuel. “My real Jewish education began when Rabbi Turchick’s wife asked me to teach her fourth grade class for two months while she visited family in Brazil.“ At 32 years old, Karotkin studied all week long to instruct her students. Having received her teaching credentials at Columbia University’s Teachers College, she was eager to impart her new knowledge. Each year, she advanced to a higher level, eventually teaching the confirmation class. From 1989 until 2003, Karotkin worked for the UJFT, beginning as the human resource development professional and later, the assistant director. She led many missions to Israel, worked with interfaith couples, Young Leadership, and directed the CRC and the Holocaust Commission. In 2003, she retired from her professional life to take care of her mother
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jewishnewsva.org | March 25, 2013 | Jewish News | 31
CHARLES BARKER AUTOMOTIVE IS YOUR SOURCE FOR NEW TOYOTA, SCION, NISSAN, LEXUS, INFINITI AND MERCEDES-BENZ VEHICLES. We encourage you to shop online where you can browse our excellent selection of new and pre-owned inventory, schedule a test drive and explore financing options. You’ll find we are committed to delivering great car buying and service experiences everyday!
“At Charles Barker Automotive, we are honored to have safe, quality products to offer our customers. We appreciate the trust our customers put in us, and it’s our goal to not only meet, but to exceed their expectations. “Delivering Great Car Buying Experiences Every Day” is not just a slogan to us; it’s our mission. I thank you for coming into our dealerships, and I hope that the level of service and professionalism you received has exceeded your expectations” -Charles Barker
Charles Barker Automotive Delivering Great Car Buying And Service Experiences Everyday! 32 | Jewish News | March 25, 2013 | jewishnewsva.org