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Mazel Tov

Supplement to Jewish News October 5, 2015

Mazel Tov Dear Readers, Fortunately, there is always a reason to exclaim, “Mazel Tov!” With our 2nd Annual Mitzvah Day just

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around the corner and our Federation’s Campaign kickoff primed for success, it is fruitful to remember that we do not need to look very far or too hard to find an excuse to celebrate. After all, we just spent the past few weeks wishing everyone “A

Terri Denison, Editor Germaine Clair, Art Director Hal Sacks, Book Review Editor Sandy Goldberg, Account Executive Mark Hecht, Account Executive Marilyn Cerase, Subscription Manager Reba Karp, Editor Emeritus Sherri Wisoff, Proofreader

Happy New Year!” Mazel Tov wishes abound in our Op-Ed story about marriage equality or visit page 20 to learn how thousands are again choosing to join the Jewish people. Who knew? Mazel Tov to all the Bar/Bat Mitzvahs of the past year and we hope you enjoy our tongue-and- cheek article covering the vast creative and hip landscape of our beloved coming-of-age ceremony. Mazel Tov to our amazing technology that allows us to experience via satellite the thoughts and ideas of Dennis Ross and Alan Dershowitz on October 18 at

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Beth El to help explain what’s next for the Middle East. Mazel Tov to our capacity to continue to evolve as a people and to rededicate ourselves to our traditions and our community. Will you be joining the First Tidewater Shabbat Project in Ghent? Do you feel like celebrating? We hope so. Gratitude is the foundation for all life abundance. Just thumb through this section and discover delicious vendors and services to create your next “Mazel Tov” event. May all your celebrations be joyful. Sherri Wisoff, Jewish News staff

16 | Jewish News | October 5, 2015 | Mazel Tov | jewishnewsva.org

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Mazel Tov

Sprucing up the modern simcha process full of seen-it-befores or tried-thatonces. With the help of creative kosher catering professionals—or by simply lookf the words “kosher catering” ing within yourself—your special day can conjure up visions of bland and be one of a kind. By including yourself in the process of unhealthy food, and memories of creating (not just planning) your simcha, bar and bat mitzvahs past still haunt you, remember that planning your upcoming the event itself automatically creates a more simcha doesn’t have to be a monotonous personal feeling. One way to do this is by making invitations by hand, which allows control over color scheme, font, and design; you can make the invitation an extension of your celebration’s theme or personal interests. Imbuing the invitation with your personal style makes the atmosphere both more memorable and more meaningful. Rebecca Friedman of Asheville, NC-based Farmer’s Daughter Catering suggests crafting your own table centerpieces as a way to infuse personality into the event’s ambiance. She also mentions that many clients want to work with the party planner, rather than allowing the planner to have total control. Others may break from the traditional style of first having a cocktail hour and then a formal dinner for weddings, or from having separate meals for adults and kids. “When working with a client, I always ask them what they’re envisioning with regards to the flow of the celebration,” Ellen Vaknine, vice president of sales & marketing Soup shooters in egg shells from New York City kosher caterer by Diana Burmistrovich/JNS.org


Tiny ice cream sundaes make for passable treats to save sit-down time at your simcha. Credit: Farmer’s Daughter Catering.

for New York City’s Espirit Events kosher caterer, says. Vaknine notes that she is seeing more people “opt for the extended cocktail [hour] with passed hors d’oeuvres and stations,” without having a formal sit-down dinner. That way, children, young adults, and adults have the option of spending more time together, and kids don’t have to face the ubiquitous schnitzel and pigs-in-ablanket offered at so many simchas. Even for the parents who do choose to have “kid food,” Vaknine suggests updating the presentation with funky touches. Soup can be served in eggshell bowls, and kebob skewers can be made from bamboo. Customizing menus to include today’s culinary trends is another way to modernize an event. Friedman—who specializes in catering using only organic and local ingredients, and typically provides farmto-table food options—notes the growing trend in using vegan, gluten-free, soy-free,

and dairy-free foods as part of the simcha menu. “Although kosher food is usually unhealthy, it is slowly getting on board with foods that are more environmentally friendly and healthier,” says Friedman. “I’ve had a bride who grew her own herbs and greens to incorporate into my catering menu. It took a year in advance [to plan], but everyone remembered that part.” Friedman suggests looking into old family recipes that can be used as part of the catering menu. That will create a catering menu that many guests haven’t seen before, and relatives will enjoy the sentiment. Whether it is through personalizing decorations or bypassing traditional kosher fare, party planning doesn’t have to be dreaded and stressful. With just a little bit of creativity, and by recognizing exactly what you want for your special day, you can make your dream simcha a reality.

Espirit Events. Credit: Ellen Vaknine.

Jewishnewsva.org | Mazel Tov | October 5, 2015 | Jewish News | 17

Mazel Tov Op-Ed

L’Chaim to marriage equality, but our work isn’t finished by Idit Klein

BOSTON (JTA)—Four years ago, I stood under a chuppah with the woman I was about to marry overlooking a valley in Massachusetts. I have an emotional memory of sweetness and joy from my wedding day, but I can’t recall many specific moments. What I do remember vividly is the end of our ceremony, when Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld declared, “I’ve said this many times before as an act of civil disobedience, but today it gives me great joy to say as an act of civil obedience: According to the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I now pronounce you married.” I still feel sudden elation when I remember that moment and surprise that it mattered as much as it did. It mattered that my marriage was seen as valid and equal

in the eyes of the law in Massachusetts. And thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this summer, my marriage, and the marriages of countless others, are valid and equal in all 50 states. For the young children of many of my colleagues and friends who have attended same-sex weddings and know many gay and lesbian couples, the excitement is unremarkable, even bewildering. But of course, the road to achieving legal marriage equality in this country was long and arduous. This summer’s victory is, indeed, remarkable. As the leader of Keshet, an organization working for the equality and inclusion of LGBTQ Jews in Jewish life for the past 14 years, I remember the many conversations with rabbis and other Jewish community leaders who initially did not support civil marriage rights.

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I remember the questions: What message will we send to children if they see a rabbi officiate at gay weddings? Isn’t it inappropriate for children to see two men standing under a chuppah in a synagogue? How can I support something that so many people in my congregation aren’t comfortable with? As these questions continued to bubble up, Keshet led a statewide campaign in Massachusetts in which gay Jewish couples told their stories at synagogues, Jewish community centers and federations to help dispel these concerns, clarify answers and mobilize the Jewish community to support equal marriage rights. I was proud when the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston became the first JCRC in the country to declare its support for equal marriage. I saw the impact of this support in the faces of many LGBTQ Jews who had felt rejected by their Jewish communities. At a time when the majority of faith leaders spoke out against our civil rights, it was powerful to see Jewish leaders demand equality because of—not in spite of—our tradition. Suddenly, a full and equal place in community and society was a possibility, at least in Massachusetts. After the Supreme Court decision, couples in every state in this country can publicly declare their love and commitment and participate in the institution of marriage. As many have noted, we no longer have gay marriage, same-gender or samesex marriage; we simply have marriage. This is a tremendous victory for all who care about equality. The relationships and families of LGBTQ people have gained critical legal protections that have long been available to heterosexual married couples. Most importantly, though, gay couples have gained recognition from the highest court in the land that our relationships, our commitments, our love are equal to all others. So we celebrate. We savor the sweetness of this hard-fought win. We rejoice knowing that our children will never know a world where their families are unequal in the eyes of the law. Some cheer Dayenu! It is enough, this thrilling victory. And yet I know the

crippling effects of bias and discrimination persist, so we must say “Lo Dayenu”—It is not enough. Marriage equality is not enough. It is far from enough. Because in 29 states in this country, people can be fired from their jobs or refused housing because of their sexual orientation. Because in 32 states people can be fired because of their gender identity or expression. Because youth who are (or are perceived to be) lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer are twice as likely to be bullied at school. Because in 21 states people can refuse to serve LGBTQ people in places of business if they think doing so would violate their religious beliefs. Because transgender people are particularly vulnerable to violence and discrimination, with 90 percent of transgender respondents to a recent survey reporting workplace discrimination or harassment. Because people can live in a country with superb laws yet still be treated poorly by their peers. All of these statistics have stories. I think of the 44-year-old lesbian who was fired from her job as a synagogue family educator after she came out. I think of the 70-year-old gay man who has worked in Jewish communal life his entire career and never felt comfortable being out. I think of the 16-year-old trans teen who wasn’t permitted to return to his Jewish summer camp as a CIT in his affirmed gender identity. I think of the 32-year-old woman whose parents wouldn’t join her on her wedding day when she stood under a chuppah with another woman. I think of the road ahead in order to pass federal non-discrimination legislation that protects all people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. I think of the even longer journey of cultural change following legal progress. I think about the role that our Jewish communities can play in accelerating the pace of change. And so, with our Facebook newsfeeds still ablaze with rainbows, we get back to work. —Idit Klein is the executive director of Keshet, a national organization working for LGBT inclusion in Jewish life.

Mazel Tov


Lists, lists, lists

lanning an event? Wondering where to begin? After saying “yes” or years of B’nai Mitzvah preparation, the first step is to choose a date. Then comes the fun or perhaps challenging part—depending on circumstances and attitude—of making decisions about an event. These vendors are on lists compiled by various area synagogues and might offer a good starting point. Good luck and Mazel Tov!

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Judaica (kippot, tallit, ketubot) Synagogue Judaica Shops Source for Everything . . . . . . Jewishjewishsource.com Yofah Religious Articles. . . . . . . . . . . . . yarmulka.com Mazel Skull cap. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kippah.com Zion Judaica. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Zionjudaica.com

Caterers Baker’s Crust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-625-3600 Bite Catering. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-486-0035 Brutti’s Catering. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-735-4360 Catering Concepts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-425-5682 Chesapeake Bay Catering757-213-5021 Cinema Café. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-747-1393 Cuisine and Co.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-428-6700 Doubletree Virginia Beach. . . . . . . . . . . 757-437-2022 East Beach Catering. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-480-3003 Einstein Bros Bagels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-410-3646 Gourmet Gang. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-857-6100 Il Giardino. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-422-6464 Party’s Etc. (Sue Adler). . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-588-2276 Route 58 Delicatessen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-227-5868 Ruth’s Chris. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-705-5251 Smithfield Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-356-9939 Sweetwater Cuisine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-403-7073 Taste Unlimited. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 757-425-0977

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Jewishnewsva.org | Mazel Tov | October 5, 2015 | Jewish News | 19

Mazel Tov Op-Ed

If you marry a Jew, you’re one of us by Steven M. Cohen and Joy Levitt

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husband, born Protestant, raised their chilNEW YORK (JTA)—Millennia ago, before dren as Jews. He never converted, but he rabbis existed or conversion was invented, did learn to read Hebrew, say Kiddush on thousands who were not born Jewish Friday nights, and fully participate in all became part of the Jewish community the Jewish holiday preparations and cerethrough a very simple act: They married monies. According to his wife, if asked if he is Jewish, partially Jewish or non-Jewish, a Jew. Sarah was the first, followed in turn he’d answer, “Jewish!” This seemingly novel phenomenon of by Rebecca, Leah and Rachel. Thousands more followed—both biblical characters joining the Jewish people without rabbinic and many more whose lives as Jews were formalities should not be surprising. In never explicitly recorded in the Bible. In today’s America, more and more social effect, our ancestors said to them, “If you identities are personally chosen and socially constructed. Religious identities marry us, you’re one of us.” Centuries later, at a time when the have become among the most fluid, with more intermarriage and number of American more people changing Jews marrying nontheir religious identities Jews has reached an than ever before. all-time high—80 perHere’s an added cent of Reform-raised appeal to newcomers: Jews who married in people in America Jews have become the 2000-2013 married who identify as Jews, most admired religious non-Jews—thousands but report group in America, are again choosing to no Jewish parents a Pew center study join the Jewish people, and reported last year, but nowhere near as have not converted having risen from the many as we would like. least socially desirable Unbeknownst to ethnic group in the even keen observers of early 1960s, according Jewish life, about half to a study at the time. of those who identify as Jews but were not born Jewish never Or as Matthew 20:16 puts it so well, “Those underwent formal rabbinic conversion. The who are last now will be first.” Even more significant may be those who 2013 Pew survey of American Jews found 79,000 adult Jewish converts, but another marry Jews who think of themselves not 83,000 who identify as Jews even though as Jewish but as “fellow travelers,” like the they reported no Jewish parents and had biblical category of “ger toshav,” or “resident supporter.” Some become part of our comnot undergone conversion. How did they become Jewish? Many munity because they sense an opportunity married Jews. Others have Jewish grand- to feel part of something important and parents or more distant Jewish ancestry meaningful. And they often do this despite and are reclaiming their roots. Some do call the fact that we don’t exactly put out the themselves fully Jewish, but many say they welcome mat for them. We know that where both parents are “partially Jewish,” a newly burgeoning group first documented in the Jewish identify as Jews, nearly all their children identify as Jews as well. And when only Community Study of New York: 2011. To take a real example: One of us is one parent sees himself/herself as Jewish, good friends with a well-known scholar only a minority of their children grow up in Jewish life. She (a born-Jew) and her as Jews. Aside from raising the inmarriage


Mazel Tov rate, how can we create more households where both partners see themselves as part of the Jewish people? One answer is for all of us to change the way we think of, and treat, those who love and marry our children, family members and friends. Basically we should agree and fully internalize the idea: If you marry a Jew, you’re fully part of our community until proven otherwise. The default option is that you’re in. If you don’t want to be seen as part of the community, you need to opt out, or “unsubscribe.” (And if you do, unlike those pesky email lists, we’ll respect your choice.) In other words, born Jews would undergo a subtle but critical shift in the way they relate to family members and friends not born Jewish. It would mean fully including them in holiday practices, life-cycle ceremonies, and Jewishly centered social action and political activities. It would mean concretizing (if not promoting) the social reality that rabbinic

conversion is not the only way to join the Jewish people or function Jewishly in a Jewish family. It would also mean that more intermarried couples would come to see themselves—and be seen by others— as inmarried. The widespread presumption of Jewishby-marriage will set many couples on upward Jewish journeys. Most critically, their children will see themselves far more often as Jewish, if for no other reason than both their parents see themselves as members of the Jewish people. This is going to take some work. We have overdeveloped muscles of defense when it comes to who’s in and who’s out. These muscles have been strengthened by anti-Semitism, to be sure. For much of the 20th century, as the Jewish community in America both acculturated and tried to maintain deep connections to Jewish tradition and culture, there was an ongoing struggle about how and if it was possible to engage fully in American life and still

preserve high inmarriage rates. Jews today are facing an unprecedented opportunity to share our rich tradition with thousands who are searching for meaning and looking to raise healthy and happy children with a deep connection to community. Certainly, some who marry us will decide to officially “join” the Jewish people through rabbinic conversion. Our arms should be wide open and encouraging to those on this path. Conversion classes and experiences need to be excellent, accessible and, frankly, more affordable in order to attract larger numbers. Our community needs to set this as a priority.

But for those who choose to be part of our community without formal conversion—who come to the Passover seder and drive their children to Hebrew school, who sit shiva with us, or who bring their sons into the community at a brit milah, who shep naches at their daughters’ bat mitzvah and who go to Israel on vacation—we say welcome. It’s a pleasure to know you. Come learn. You’re one of us if you want to be. —Steven M. Cohen is a research professor at Hebrew Union CollegeJewish Institute of Religion and director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive. Rabbi Joy Levitt is the executive director of the JCC Manhattan.


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Jewishnewsva.org | Mazel Tov | October 5, 2015 | Jewish News | 21

Autumn is a season to behold nature’s palette. Mazel Tov!

Mazel Tov Bar mitzvah-themed storytelling events seek to prompt reflection on the ritual

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www.bakerscrust.com The Reboot non-profit’s “reBar Mitzvah” event in Los Angeles last November. Credit: Reboot.

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www.garyallen.net 22 | Jewish News | October 5, 2015 | Mazel Tov | jewishnewsva.org

by Julie Wiener

NEW YORK (JTA)—A. J. Jacobs is not one to forego a big project. The journalist and author spent 18 months reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, a year “living biblically” and another subjecting himself to every health regimen he could find. Most recently, Jacobs conducted a massive family history project. One conspicuous gap in his catalog of experiences: a bar mitzvah, the widely observed, celebrated (and at times reviled) rite of passage for Jewish 13-year-olds. As a result, Jacobs told a group of youngish (mostly under-40) Jews at a recent event in Brooklyn, he suffers from “bar mitzvah envy.” Jacobs was not the only un-bar mitzvahed person to take the stage this summer at New York’s debut “Rebar” event, a sort-of The Moth: True Stories Told Live gathering focused on bar/bat mitzvah memories. Several performers—among them a convert to Judaism, a Catholic writer-actor and a novelist raised by a secular Jewish mother and lapsed Catholic dad—had not had a bar or bat mitzvah. In fact, those who had—including Vanessa Hidary, aka the

Hebrew Mamita, and Daily Show writer Jena Friedman—were in the minority. A project of Reboot, a Jewish nonprofit that, according to its website “engages and inspires young, Jewishly-unconnected cultural creatives, innovators and thought-leaders,” Rebar is an effort to “grow the number of people who are mindful about” the bar/bat mitzvah experience and “get them to think about what it means to grow up and be part of a community,” Robin Kramer, Reboot’s executive director, says. Kramer says she hopes that people who participate in Rebar will go on to plan more meaningful bar and bat mitzvahs for their own children. The coming-of-age ceremony, in which the celebrant generally reads from the Torah on Shabbat, is often, to the chagrin of synagogue leaders, viewed by parents as the sole reason for enrolling their child in Hebrew school. For many children it’s seen as a sort of Jewish graduation — and a good excuse to make a viral video invitation. With the motto “Rewind to 13. Fast Forward to Today,” the Rebar project encourages adults to reflect on their bar/

Mazel Tov bat mitzvah experiences, think about what they might do differently today, and consider what it means to come of age and enter adulthood. Consisting of storytelling events like the one held in a hip, intimate event space in Brooklyn’s gentrified Prospect Heights neighborhood, the initiative also includes an online, crowdsourced collection of bar/bat mitzvah photos and reflections as well as a “DIY kit” to guide would-be participants and organizers. Reboot—whose other projects include National Day of Unplugging, a modern spin on Shabbat—is hardly the first Jewish group to turn its attention to the bar/bat mitzvah. Since 2012, the Reform movement has overseen a pilot project called B’nai Mitzvah Revolution for congregations experimenting with the standard services-and-aparty model. In 2013, the New York-based Jewish Education Project devoted its “Jewish Futures” conference to the topic, with a recurring theme being that the entry-into-Jewish-adulthood ritual is plagued by widespread ambivalence about just what Jewish adulthood should be. New York’s Jewish Journey Project, an alternative Hebrew school program in which kids get to choose the classes they take, offers an alternative called Brit Atid (Covenant of the Future) in which kids study their Torah portions but then, rather than chanting them and delivering a typical d’var Torah, choose a creative way of presenting it in a group ceremony. The Brooklyn Rebar event seemed to do more rewinding than fast-forwarding. There were lots of humorous anecdotes and awkward photos—particularly of the overthe-top b’nai mitzvah parties attended and themes witnessed—and less emphasis on what the storyteller/participant might do differently today. Friedman, the comedy writer, confesses to having a “super racist” Chinese New Year-themed bat mitzvah, while Libby Lenkinski, U.S. director of strategic initiatives for the New Israel Fund, recalls attending multiple bar/bat mitzvah

parties each weekend of seventh grade with themes ranging from Wall Street (replete with a wind tunnel blowing dollar bills) to rainforest to Monte Carlo night. (A self-described socialist, Lenkinski says her own bat mitzvah skipped the gifts, instead inviting guests to plant trees in Israel.) Hidary contrasted the lavish parties on Long Island—hosted by friends from Jewish summer camp who had “QuickBat” crash courses beforehand—with her own three-days-a-week-of-Hebrew-school servitude and the low-budget party in her family’s Manhattan apartment. Kate Scelsa, a young-adult novelist, says she did not have a bat mitzvah and had never “stepped foot in a temple” until seventh grade, when her classmates from private school invited her to their bar and bat mitzvahs, and “I was in temple at least once a month.” Her overthe-top experiences? A party in which the host rented out South Street Seaport and hired vendors to make guests an array of personalized souvenirs, including fake vanity license plates. Instead of talking about his bar mitzvah, Chris Farber, a photographer and co-founder of the Rebar project, talks about his conversion to Judaism (after which his friends threw a “Farb Mitzvah” party for him). The son of a secular Jew and non-practicing Christian, Farber explains that until he converted—a process that culminated in a mikvah immersion and symbolic circumcision—“because my mom wasn’t Jewish, Jews didn’t consider me a Jew, and because my dad was [Jewish], everyone else did.” Sadly, he never addresses the question this writer is dying to know: What is it like to be Jewish and named Chris? As for the bar mitzvah-envying Jacobs, one of his regrets at not having had the lifecycle event is his lack of Hebrew literacy and missed “executive training.” Plus, he says, “Having a bar mitzvah forces you in some small way to think about others, and I was a selfish little bastard.”

Jewishnewsva.org | Mazel Tov | October 5, 2015 | Jewish News | 23




Mazel Tov


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Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli marries under no-fly zone

sraeli supermodel Bar Refaeli married Adi Ezra in a traditional Jewish wedding at the Carmel Forest Spa Resort in northern Israel. Refaeli, 30, and Ezra, 40, a businessman whose family owns the Israeli food importing company Neto ME Holdings, wed Sept. 24. Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman officiated at the ceremony, which according to some reports had 300 guests. (Others placed it at 400.) Refaeli wore a gown designed by Chloé. Israeli singer and The Voice Israel judge Shlomi Shabbat sang his popular song The Beginning of the World, according Israeli websites Walla and Mako. The wedding was preceded by conflict over whether or not it was permissible to impose a no-fly zone over it. On Sept. 22, Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority announced that it would override the transportation minister, Israel Katz, reinstating the no-fly zone in the four-square-mile airspace over the site of the wedding. In canceling the order two days earlier, Katz said he objected to the special treatment for Refaeli and Ezra. “As the person responsible for civil

Bar Refaeli.

aviation and setting policy, I expect you to fully implement my instructions on the matter,” Katz told Feldsho, the Israeli business daily Globes reported. “I look gravely on attempts to operate against the instructions and policies that I have set. The skies belong to the public at large and exclusivity should not be granted for commercial reasons to relevant organizations. Justice must be done and seen to be done.” Five drones, two helicopters and an observation balloon circled the area as part of the wedding—including to photograph the affair and to transport the couple to the site, according to Israeli reports. The reports suggested that the request to close the area to other aircraft was a safety issue. (JTA)

Michael Douglas gives surprise Yom Kippur speech at Reform temple NEW YORK (JTA)—Film star Michael Douglas delivered a speech at a temple in a New York City suburb on Yom Kippur. Douglas, who this summer received the Genesis Prize, informally known as the “Jewish Nobel,” spoke to more than 1,000 worshippers on Tuesday night, Sept. 22 at Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford, the New York Post reported. In his 20-minute unannounced speech at the Reform congregation, Douglas described how he was “reconnecting” with Judaism and recalled how his famous father, Kirk Douglas, experienced anti-­ Semitism when he first began working in

24 | Jewish News | October 5, 2015 | Mazel Tov | jewishnewsva.org

Hollywood. Much of the speech was about the need for the Jewish community to be inclusive, according to the Post. Douglas’ wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and their children, Dylan and Carys, also were on hand. Dylan Douglas celebrated his bar mitzvah at the temple in May 2014, and Carys is preparing for her bat mitzvah. (Douglas reportedly joked that he hopes his latest film performs well at the box office because he is in the midst of party planning for the bat mitzvah.) Shaaray Tefila’s senior rabbi, David Greenberg, invited Douglas.

Mazel Tov Young artist paves the way for 2nd Annual Mitzvah Day

Dani Byers.

by Laine Mednick Rutherford


t 12-years-old, Dani Byers is a polite young woman who is as comfortable in front of adults as she is climbing the tree in her front yard. Her attentive demeanor and coltish movements give no indication of the artistic talent she possesses, which has been manifesting itself most recently through photography, specifically nature photography. Flipping through the album of landscape and macro photography stored on her home computer, Dani points to the images. She matter-of-factly says that what’s on the screen is exactly what she captured at the moment the shutter was pressed on her camera. “I don’t edit any of my pictures,” says Dani, a seventh grader who will become a Bat Mitzvah this spring at Ohef Sholom Temple. “They’re originals, just the way I took them.” The photos stand out for their color, skillful composition, and, in many, an evocative beauty. Dani will be sharing the images, freely and willingly, to help promote the upcoming community-wide 2nd Annual Mitzvah Day on Sunday, Oct. 25. She’ll combine her photos with typography to create posts for the United Jewish

Federation of Tidewater’s social media pages. Her motivational messages are intended to remind people to sign up for the event, while at the same time suggesting they try out a daily good deed based on a Jewish value, for a unique 18 Day Countdown to Mitzvah Day. Julie Byers, Dani’s mother, is a member of the volunteer committee organizing Mitzvah Day. When she heard there would be a social media component to Mitzvah Day, she immediately thought of Dani’s

artistic abilities, and offered her daughter’s assistance, without hesitation. “I knew Dani would want to help, and when I asked her, she said: ‘Sure!’” says Byers. “It’s fun for us to do good things for other people. It’s part of the foundation of our family.” Having a creative project to work on is exciting to Dani, who enjoys combining her art with different font styles, and coming up with words to complement her images. “I’ve been creating this kind of art for a while, and it’s something I like to do,” says Dani, an International Baccalaureate student in Norfolk, who sells some of her work online at Zazzle.com. “One of the Jewish values I’ll definitely use for a post is gemilut chasidim, which is acts of loving-kindness,” she says. “It makes me feel good when I help out in the community. I like to brighten people’s days.”

To see Dani Byers’ 18 Day Countdown to Mitzvah Day artwork, like the UJFT’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/UJFTidewater, and check for daily posts beginning Wednesday, Oct. 7. For more information, and to sign up for Tidewater’s 2nd Annual Mitzvah Day, visit www.JewishVA.org/mitzvah-day.

Rabbi Ellen Jaffe-Gill

Newly appointed Rabbi of Tidewater Chavurah serving Tidewater’s unaff iliated Jews and spiritual seekers as

Lifecycle Officiant Jewish Educator & Tutor rabbicantorejg@gmail.com 215-359-7806

MEDITERRANEAN SALAD greens, shrimp, artichoke, mushrooms, radishes, feta, pepperoncini, sardine, white anchovy, beets, tomato, cucumber, chickpeas, egg, fresh herbs, red wine.

Jewishnewsva.org | Mazel Tov | October 5, 2015 | Jewish News | 25

Mazel Tov


JBolt strikes the Jewish dating community with a dating app that incorporates matchmakers

he creators of SawYouAtSinai, the largest Jewish matchmaking company in the world, recently introduced JBolt, the first Jewish dating app with matchmakers. “We created JBolt to simultaneously bring the human touch to the dating app world, and bring the efficiency of the smartphone to the matchmaking world,” says Marc Goldmann, founder of JBolt. This innovative hybrid of matchmaking and smartphone app caters to the new generation of Jewish singles. JBolt’s priority is to create long-lasting relationships. While it uses matchmakers such as SawYouAtSinai (now boasting more than 2,300 members married), it gives the singles a more active role in the dating process. Singles choose for themselves who they would like to date from

a series of “Bolts,” or possible matches, automatically sent to their phone every day. They can check out the singles’ profiles and swipe right when interested, and left when not.  Once two singles mutually approve each other, the matchmaker enters the scene to review the match and make sure the two singles are compatible with one another. “The matchmaker review prevents futile dates, which will only be a waste of time, mone, and energy,” says Danielle Jacobs, C.O.O. of JBolt. Once the matchmaker approves the match, he or she will be available to the singles for advice and general guidance throughout the dating process, thus providing a blend of professional assistance and personal independence. “For the first time, matchmaking has

been given the ease and efficiency of the smartphone,” says Goldmann. This technology allows singles to accept matches and contact matchmakers more quickly than ever before. Plus, the simplicity of the app, with its sliding profiles and matchmaker chat functionality, makes JBolt incredibly easy to use. JBolt members can also join a partner site, such as SawYouAtSinai or JMatchmaking. The partner site’s singles database is independent from JBolt’s database, which gives the JBolt member even more dating options.  A Gold user on JBolt will automatically also be a Gold member of the partner site, upon signing up with a profile there. With access to two separate databases, the JBolt user doubles his chances of finding the right person, for no extra cost.

Created in December 2003, SawYouAtSinai benefits Traditional, Conservative, Yeshivish and Modern Orthodox Jewish singles from Jewish communities throughout the world JBolt is now available on IOS through the Apple Store or Android through Google Play.

Mazel Tov! May all your celebrations be joyous!

26 | Jewish News | October 5, 2015 | Mazel Tov | jewishnewsva.org


& Mrs.

Scott Rigell

Profile for United Jewish Federation of Tidewater

Mazel tov oct 5, 2015  

Mazel tov oct 5, 2015

Mazel tov oct 5, 2015  

Mazel tov oct 5, 2015

Profile for ujft