e l T z o a v M Supplement to Jewish News, January 28, 2013
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Creating a memorable celebration by Laine Mednick Rutherford
eing alive is reason enough to celebrate, but when a lifecycle event rolls around, it’s time to gather with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and fellow congregants and party! The possibilities (some may say excuses) for throwing a party are endless: a birthday, bris, baby naming, bar or bat mitzvah, confirmation, graduation, wedding, anniversary, or fundraiser. And, while the parties may be fun to attend, they can be overwhelming to plan. What makes a great party? Is it the food? The flowers? The party favors? The décor? Leslie Siegel and Clay Barr, two local women who know how to make people walk in to an event and say, “Wow,” share their experience and insight. Both say before the invitations are sent, before the first napkins are bought, a theme needs to be chosen. Whether that theme’s focus is on a place—like the jungle, an activity—like mah jong, a color—green is big this year, says Barr, that central idea can be used for everything, from the style of yarmulkes ordered to the table cloths spread at the outof-towners’ Sunday brunch. Siegel is known for creating spectacular settings at parties such as the Crystal Balls held in the area to raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy research, and Jewish events, such as YAD’s Sushi Sake Latke Party and the Opening Night Gala for the JCC Film Festival. “It’s really about details,” says Siegel. “I like to use a lot of organic things, like moss and stone, and a lot of materials that have texture to them. When you drape fabric—a lot of fabric—and use lighting, you transform the material and the space to look like something totally different.” Siegel says there are so many resources available these days to get ideas, materials and props, that possibilities to create a party that people will remember are abundant. “I will hang hundreds and hundreds of yards of fabric from ceilings, so that the ballroom that always looked like a ball-
room, doesn’t look like that anymore,” she says. “That’s what you want, to make people feel like they’re someplace special.” As far as centerpieces are concerned, Siegel’s preference is to place something large, creative and spectacular on the table. “A lot of people say you should be able to speak to the person across the table from you, but what ends up happening is the music is so loud you end up only speaking to the person next to you, or getting up to talk,” Siegel says. “So why not have something amazing on the table?” Barr, with her Missions Possible partner Lauren Barr, has an event planning, interior design and online gift business, www.missionspossibleusa.com. Known for stylish and age appropriate parties, Barr says the main focus when planning with a client is to create a feeling that will be carried through the entire event—from invitations to the party to the thank you notes that follow. That, and attention to details, she says, are what make guests, and the guests of honor, remember the occasion. “You can have the most beautiful flowers in the world, but these days, that’s not enough,” says Barr. “We work with our clients to see what’s important to them, and what their budget is, then we tie everything together to create a spectacular and special time.” Barr says it’s important to do some soul searching to decide what matters most to them. Is it the invitations, which set the tone of what’s to come, or are e-vites
acceptable? What about tablecloths? Photography? And do you want a custom challah cover to have something that can be used for years to come? Answering these questions, and getting help from crafty and organized friends, or seasoned, respected professionals such as Siegel or Missions Possible, can translate into a terrific time that people won’t forget.
jewishnewsva.org | Mazel Tov | January 28, 2013 | Jewish News | 31
Mitzvah projects add meaning to celebrations
by Laine Mednick Rutherford (Photos courtesy of Rose family)
ulie Rose’s bat mitzvah ceremony at Temple Israel is six months away, but she already has completed an important part of her Jewish coming-of-age preparation. Her mitzvah project is done. Originally, the Great Bridge Middle School seventh grader planned to raise funds for a program that helps EthiopianIsraeli parents learn to read and speak Hebrew along with their children. Julie wanted to help ease the burden of integration into society that she had heard about first-hand from Maly Jackson, a community member who escaped Ethiopia as a child and moved to Israel in the 1970s. Then, Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast with a vengeance, and Julie’s
family sprang into action. Father Ron, mom Missy, brother Danny, and Julie decided they wanted to do something to help, were compelled to do something, and put out the word that they would be driving emergency supplies up north. Ron and Missy Rose drove the first 16-foot truck to Hoboken, packed to the brim with blankets, coats, baby food, diapers and other essentials. “I have never seen little kids so happy to see toilet paper,” says Missy. “We unloaded the truck and then flew back, because there was no gas to be had anywhere up there.” The couple drove the second two-seater truck up north a few weeks later, filled with items such as heaters, socks, boots and gloves. Along with this load of necessities, though, were gifts that could be given to chil-
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dren for Chanukah, which started the next day, or for Christmas. Wrapping paper was included as well. Julie and her family helped galvanize friends at school, and went door to door asking their neighbors in Chesapeake for donations. They told Temple Israel their plans and congregants gathered gifts, and wrapping Ron, Julie, Missy and Danny Rose on the back of a truck paper, and the word loaded with Hurricane Sandy relief supplies. spread. Churches that partner with Temple Israel got into the it,” says Missy Rose. “And we’re so awed by act and dropped off items, and in a short everyone’s work on this. It’s great when you time, another truck was filled. The Roses can lead by example, and that’s what everydrove it to a Hebrew day school on Staten one involved in this has done.” Island, and again flew back home. Increasingly, celebrants of all kinds— “I thought it was really cool that we bar and bat mitzvah students, confirmands, got to help people during Chanukah and bride and grooms, new parents, graduates, Christmas time, and really, that we were and senior citizens who would rather see just able to help,” says Julie. gifts go elsewhere—are choosing worthThe 12-year-old and her family still while organizations and programs they plan to initiate a project to assist Ethiopian- would rather see as recipients than themIsraelis. However, since Julie already put so selves. Sometimes personal, physical much effort into helping victims of the hur- participation is involved, other times guests ricane, and she experienced the immediate are steered toward making contributions to impact of her mitzvot, the relief project the celebrant’s project of choice. organically became her bat mitzvah project. “Having a mitzvah project or making “It’s so much easier to write and talk a donation in someone’s name is really a about something when you’ve gone through great way to celebrate and honor a person or special event.” says Carolyn Amacher, community development specialist for the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. “There is a trend in this direction and it is a positive and easy way for people to do tzedekah, through social action and donating to worthy causes.” From Tidewater to Africa, from Israel to the Former Soviet Union, Amacher says there are programs that could use help raising both funds and awareness, and anyone interested in finding out more, see Julie Rose with two of the signs she made to go along with the article on page 33. truckload of supplies her family and the community gathered to take to Hoboken, N.J. and Staten Island, N.Y.
Mitzvah projects for service and celebrations
arolyn Amacher, the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s community development specialist, spotlights two ways UJFT can help community members perform mitzvot or get involved in mitzvah projects.
Mitzvah Matcher A partnership of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and area synagogues, Mitzvah Matcher is designed for Bar and Bat Mitzvah students, as well as middle and high school students of who are required to do community service projects. The program provides resources to create individualized and unique projects through the agencies the Federation supports in Tidewater, nationally, in Israel and around the world. A UJFT professional will help determine an individual’s interests in educational, sports, cultural, religious, or social action activities in conversations and in brainstorming sessions. The professional then will help match the individual with a vetted organization or project that helps provide a better life for real people and real communities. Mitzvah Matcher projects can involve either a contribution of time, or a financial donation or both.
ly growing community center. This year UJFT’s funding will be directed toward the underwriting and support of youth programs and activities. • Jewish Family Service of Tidewater: Support for vital social services to the Tidewater Jewish community including counseling, care navigation, home health and homecare, hospice, and therapeutic recreation, socialization and nutrition. • Berger Goldrich Home at Beth Sholom Village: Support for specialized nursing services in a facility which embodies traditional Jewish values in its program of care for the chronically ill and elderly population in Tidewater. • ORT, Former Soviet Union: Funds provide a year-round bus transportation, summer camp in Cristian, Romania, and
scholarships to underwrite the experiences of Jewish children of Romania. • Atidim, Israel: This program identifies gifted children, aged 13 to 25, from underprivileged backgrounds, and provides them with the opportunity for advanced studies. • Center for Independent Living, Tel Aviv, Israel: Community-based multi-service center was developed by and managed and operated by the disabled for the disabled. UJFT’s funds support peer counseling and support groups, access to technology and assistive technologies, independent living workshops and an emergency hotline. • Jaffe Jewish Family Service, Budapest, Hungary: Subsidize services and provision of food, medicine, clothing and financial relief for families struggling with poverty and illness.
• Neve Michael, Israel: Support the provision of non-reimbursable special therapeutic services at a residential treatment center for youth at-risk in Israel. • Pardes Katz, Israel: Located outside of Tel Aviv, Pardes Katz has been an Israeli sister community with Tidewater for more than 25 years. UJFT funds assist the community center’s dental clinic, computer lab, pre-school, summer camp, after school programs, teen activities, and meals for the elderly. • Marvin and Marilyn Simon Family Jewish Community Center: Support for social and cultural activities, exercise programs, and nutrition education that promote wellness and healthy living. Contact Carolyn Amacher at 757-452‑3181, or firstname.lastname@example.org, for information on Mitzvah Matcher and Mitzvah Milestone projects
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Mitzvah Milestones For those celebrating an event worthy of remembrance in a way that complements or transcends traditional gifts, such as a major birthday, or anniversary, the UJFT suggests ways to share that happiness with those less fortunate by asking for a donation to a specific project. A UJFT professional can help find or design a project that benefits an organization or program espousing the Jewish value of tikkun olam, or one that organically resonates with the celebrant’s interests, local and/or global concerns. After helping determine the project, UJFT can assist in letting guests or potential gift givers know how and where they can designate their financial donations, and how their expressions of joy are helping real people in real communities around the world. Opportunities include (but are not limited to): • Bucharest Jewish Community Center, Romania: Subsidize this rapid-
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by Jewish News staff
t may seem like another pesky detail, but oh, what an important one: welcoming out-of-town guests to an event. Your guests have left work, paid for transportation and accommodations, and have most likely brought a gift. Yes, big hugs and smiles are important, but chances are, you’re not personally greeting everyone at the airport or hotel, and they aren’t staying with you, the host, either. There are two tried and true ways to say, “Thank you for coming to share our Simcha! We’re really glad you are here!”
The Welcome Bag Here’s a great opportunity for all of those friends who say, “How can I help?” to have a project. In fact, it is often local friends who provide the bags. Gift bags, like events, can be basic, creative, sophisticated, or “over-the-top special.” Some carry the theme of the weekend, while others are meant to provide some basic information and nibbles for the travelers. Gift bags generally include: • Welcome letter from the hosts • Schedule and directions • A couple of waters and snacks
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Gift bags can include: • Suggestions on what to do in town during down-time • Wine • Cheese • Homemade cookies or brownies • Fresh fruit • Candy • Small toys and games if children are involved • Local publications • Touristy trinkets such as pens with Mermaids or Virginia Beach The options are really only limited by budget and imagination. Sometimes, bags are printed for the occasion, other times they come straight from the
Dollar Tree. Some are recyclable and some are actually boxes. Hotels are almost always willing to line them up behind the check-in desk and pass them out when your guests arrive. Just make sure they have an accurate list and a matching amount of bags so that no one is left out.
Hospitality Suite Some hotels will include a hospitality suite if you book enough rooms or hold the actual event there. If not, it is a nice extra to offer your guests. Hospitality suites are great places for guests to mingle during down-time and go to grab a bottle of water or soda, or maybe even a glass of wine. They can be stocked with fruit, nuts, pretzels, chips, and sweets. Mainly, they offer a place to gather…not in a lobby…where people can meet or catch up with each other.
hether gift bags or hospitality suite, as long as your guests get the message that you’re glad they made the effort to attend your wedding, anniversary party or Bat or Bar Mitzvah, your weekend will get off to a “most welcoming” start.
Jewish weddings seen as tourism booster in Spain
Spanish political party reportedly has asked the regional government of Andalucia to authorize and encourage holding Jewish weddings in Cordoba’s historic synagogue. According to a report in Diario Cordoba, a local daily, the request came last month from the centerright PP group in the state parliament of Andalucia in southern Spain. It was meant to help the region “fulfill its touristic potential,” party spokesman Rosario Alarcon is quoted as saying. He added that the move would encourage a greater influx of Jewish tourists into the city. Alarcon says “arrangements are not in place” to facilitate Jewish weddings in the synagogue. This and other difficulties mean the city’s tourism potential is not being fully exploited, he says. As part of a wider plan to develop the tourist sector in Cordoba, PP called for additional state funding to regenerate tourism in the center of the city. Built in 1315, the synagogue stands in the historic Jewish quarter of the city, once home to a substantial Jewish population before the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. In November, the Portuguese town of
Trancoso, which once was heavily populated by Jews, invited the Israeli NGO Shavei Israel to run its new Jewish cultural center. The Isaac Cardoso Center for Jewish Interpretation, which will be the first Jewish cultural and religious center of its kind in Portugal in more than 500 years, is expected to open in the coming weeks. The center, which also will house a synagogue, was dedicated in October and an agreement was signed between Shavei Israel and the Trancoso Municipality on Nov. 19, according to Michael Freund, the organization’s founder.
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