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What a crazy winter we have had! A little bit of snow, record rains, tornadoes, warm weather…you name it. When March arrives, I begin to look forward to spring and a pattern of warmer days. I also look forward to celebrating Purim, one of my favorite holidays. I have so many fond childhood memories of Purim, dressing up as Queen Esther and parading around the synagogue.
I recently did a little research to get some “fun facts” about Purim. Thanks to Rabbi Liebowitz, I discovered a new website: myjewishlearning.com. Did you know that Esther was a vegetarian? She followed a vegetarian diet consisting largely of legumes so that she would not break the laws of kashrut. For this reason, there is a tradition of eating beans and peas on Purim. Did you know that the Book of Esther is one of just two biblical books that do not include G-d’s name? The other is Song of Songs. I learned that right after the 1991 Gulf War, Israel’s most popular Purim costume was of the Israel Defense Forces spokesman whose face appeared on TV every time a Scud missile alert sounded, and people snacked on “Saddamtaschen” instead of hamantaschen. Check out myjewishlearn- ing.com for more information.
We have our own special traditions and ways to celebrate Purim at Temple B’nai Israel. It begins with fellowship and includes fun, food, and music! The Oy Boys and special guests will perform their original Purim songs. Of course, there will be hamantaschen and other good food. Please plan to join us on Friday, March 6th. I look forward to seeing you soon.
Happy Purim to all!
November was a whirlwind of a month with a lot of hustle and bustle around the Temple. It started with all the planning and preparation for Sisterhood’s Annual Bake Sale. Sweet goodness could be smelled throughout the social hall as cakes, cookies, and other delights were prepared. That doesn’t even begin to take into account all of the hours spent in volunteers’ homes, baking and cooking for the big day. As in years past, I worked as a cashier. It’s always fun listening to the stories of buyers. One customer told me she has been coming to the Bake Sale for the last 25 years purchasing cheesecakes along with other treats. She said our cheesecake may be the secret to why she’s married today. When I asked why, she said she gave her then boyfriend a piece of the Sisterhood’s cheesecake shortly after they started dating. Fast forward twenty-five years, he still reminds her every year to come back for more! And as in the past, the Bake Sale was a huge success. Thanks go to everyone who participated by contributing money, time, and effort.
On the heels of the Bake Sale we hosted the SC Jewish Historical Society’s meeting. As an outsider looking in, it felt like a high school reunion as the halls were flooded with individuals from near and far who made the trek to attend. Learning about Spartanburg’s past, meeting people who grew up in our Temple, and visiting Spartanburg’s original Temple were all memorable events. As some of our members reminisced about the “old days” during a panel discussion, it felt as though I was sitting around their kitchen tables. We hosted about 150 people throughout the weekend. The success of the event would not have been possible without the hard work of some of our congregants and Rabbi Liebowitz who spent countless hours planning and working in preparation for the event.
Finally, the Congregation just elected its Board members for the upcoming year. For those of you who have served on the Temple Board, or the Board of any other organization, you know it can be rewarding, and at times challenging. As President, I have been fortunate to serve with a great group of people the last two years and look forward to the upcoming year as the Board works to serve the best interests of our Congregants and Temple.
It takes everyone’s financial support, time, and energy to ensure that the Temple offers what you want from YOUR Temple. Don’t hesitate to contact me or any other Board members with your suggestions or to volunteer around the Temple. Your ideas and input are always welcome and appreciated.
8/1 Abe H. Morris
8/1 Kathy H. Steinberg
8/2 Evelyn Fleishman
8/2 Evelyn Z. Small
8/3 Richard August
8/3 Reba B. Morewitz
8/4 Miriam Shapiro
8/5 Sherron Weinberger
8/6 Louis Anderson
8/8 Isaac H. Greenwald
8/8 Lev Revich
8/9 Henry B. Barnet, Jr.
8/9 Edward Reichel
8/9 Trudy Reimer
8/10 Daisy Spigel
8/11 Jack Garrell
8/11 Ralph Neufeld
8/12 Abraham Adler
8/12 Freida Anderson
8/12 Toba M. Segal
8/12 Linda S. Ungvarksy
8/13 Herb Moglin
8/13 Fannie E. Poliakoff
8/13 Fannie Yoffe
8/14 Maurice H. Freedman
8/15 Sidney Kirshman
8/16 Estelle D. Kaplan
8/19 Mayer J. Price
8/20 Pauline H. Bernanke
8/20 Chayim E. Levovitz
8/22 Luevina M. Powers
8/24 Samuel Feinstein
8/24 Meyer Poliakoff
8/24 William A. Poulson
8/25 Eva Geller
8/25 Leo Gunther
8/25 Mitchell R. Price
8/25 Fannie Simon
8/26 Max Greenwald
8/26 Jennie Novey
8/26 Sara Simmons
8/27 Samuel Fox
8/28 Bea Adelman
8/29 Ben Barbarash
8/31 Pauline Shinberg
A Message from Our President
Happy New Year to everyone!
My new year is starting out to be interesting, to say the least. I’ve been dog sitting Abner, my basset hound, who recently had spinal surgery. If you know anything about bassets, you know they don’t move around quickly, they aren’t highly motivated dogs, and they like to sit around and eat. The veterinarian told us that it may take Abner several weeks before he can walk again, due in part to his breed, so he is requiring a lot of attention. Abner is a sweet and loving dog and I enjoy his company; however, I’ve been starving for some people interaction!
Fortunately, Steve’s cousin and his wife have been visiting us for a few days. It’s been fun having family around to bring in the new year. We’ve been watching football, sharing stories, and of course eating good food. Family gatherings are the best! What’s even more exciting about Ron and Syd’s visit, is knowing that they plan to relocate from Charleston to the upstate in 2019!
As I stare into Abner’s big brown eyes, my mind wanders. I’m reminded that the new year brings cheer and gratitude. A very special thank you goes to Rabbi Liebowitz for his spiritual and educational guidance. I’m especially thankful to our Board members who give much time and effort to the Temple. Behind the scenes, they work diligently on behalf of Temple B’nai Israel. Board members are David Lyon, David Blumenfeld, Jon Lewson, Tina Lyon, Susan Abelkop, Mauro Wilk, Lisa Frye, Andrew Greene, Mark Packer, Rex Russell, Stan Hyman and Ira Greenfield. Elaine Hyman serves as the Sisterhood representative. Many thanks to outgoing Board member, Bob Britanisky, who served as the Ritual Committee Chair for many years and Jack Schoer, outgoing past President. There are others who support the Temple in so many ways whether in the kitchen, helping with maintenance issues, teaching Sunday School, serving on Temple committees, maintaining social media platforms, or assuming leadership roles with Hadassah and Sisterhood. Thanks again to all of you!
I encourage you to get involved if you aren’t already. Your ideas for educational and social programming are always welcomed and encouraged. Please reach out to any Board member or me with your suggestions and to volunteer your services.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year. Stay tuned for an update on Abner next month!
Warmest regards, Sandy
Final payments for 2018 membership dues and the annual appeal are due now. If you have not yet paid, please submit your payments to the temple office. We depend on your support to meet our financial obligations. If you have any questions or specific concerns, please contact Jon Lewson.
The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
23 Kislev—23 Tevet 5779 December 2018
In December 1971, I along with fellow Jews from Hillel was playing a fierce game of dreidel. The stakes were enormous. If you were not careful you could lose as much as fifty cents. Half way through the game, the campus police arrived having been informed that gambling was taking place on campus in broad daylight, yes right there in a Southern California University and in front of dozens of innocent Gentiles. The immoral contamination of White Anglo Saxon Protestant culture was imminent. Civilization was on the brink of disaster facing ruin. The next day, the campus paper, The Daily Sundial, sported on its cover a huge image of a dreidel with the caption “The Great Dreidel Scandal of 1971.” It was by far the lightest of anti-Jewish experiences I had in college. A few more followed; one was being pursued by a car with three youths in it who with anti-Semitic invectives threatened my life. Another was a library incident in which I was assaulted for merely wearing a skull cap. The reason for these assaults do not require much explanation for the bottom line was the fact I was Jewish and that alone merited the attack. The late Howard Cosell, a rather unaffiliated Jew (who had formally changed his name from Cohen to Cosell), remarked after the Munich Olympic killings in ’72 “I realized that there were people who wanted to kill me simply because I am a Jew!”
At this Hanukah time and as the horror of Pittsburgh continues to abide in our hearts, it is essential that we reflect on the historical realities we as a people have faced; from biblical days to the present season. Our need to be vigilant is unquestionable and the leadership of this congregation has begun to take prudent measures for our security. There are to be sure many kinds of anti-Semitism and in many degrees. My personal college incidences range from a silly prank reporting gambling to the bodily harm that I experienced. It is wise to make a correct and sober assessment while at the same time to always take serious precautions and not minimalize the madness that we continue to face, let alone to be dismissive of the same.
Hanukah means many different things to many of us. Some emphasize the gaiety of light and merriment. Others may focus on the idea of nature and seasonal markings. Still others like me take heart in Jewish resilience. Noting the many assaults to our faith and nation, I marvel at our capacity to re-invent ourselves. Elie Wiesel, our late spokesman for the Holocaust – Shoah was once asked “what is Judaism’s major gift to the world – not monuments or cathedrals –then what?” He simply replied, “Words!” Ours has been a portable faith. When made bereft of our land and its central place of pilgrimage, the Temple of Solomon, we found ways of continuing our faith – Words, Hebrew words and songs especially answering the painful lament of the psalmist, How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? (Psalm 137:4
When the holy Menorah was brought back to Rome as booty, the carving of which can be still seen on the Arch of Titus in Rome, we made a portable menorah that adorn our synagogues. No doubt this emblem of Israel symbolizes our determination to persist and survive. Our homes which act and should act as a sanctuary sport a menorah in remembrance of the search for freedom and by extension of tolerance for all faiths. The imperative to place it in our windows goes back for centu- ries. No doubt it has crossed many a troubled Jewish mind to not be so open and demonstrative. One of my grandmother’s oft used exclamations was “Af tsu Loches,” “in spite of all!” “Af tsu Loches,” in spite of Pittsburgh, “Af tsu Loches,” in spite of 200 missiles launched into Southern Israel “Af tsu Loches,” in spite of rising nationalism and nativism “Af tsu Loches,” my menorah will find its way to the window, and only to the window. “Af tsu Loches,” “in spite of all!”
Wishing one and all a safe and joyous Hanukkah. Rabbi Yossi Liebowitz D.D.
Wofford’s “Candlelight Carols” program is scheduled for Thursday, November 29, in the Old Main Building at the center of Wofford’s campus. The program begins at 6:30 inside Leonard Auditorium with Wofford’s outstanding singing groups performing Christmas and holiday songs. Afterward – sometime between 7:15 and 7:30 – the audience comes outside for the Menorah Lighting in front of Old Main. Our rabbi will lead the lighting of the 6-foot menorah donated to Wofford by alum Rex Russell. All are welcome at the menorah lighting as well as the holiday program preceding it.
The recent California wildfires have reportedly claimed at least 50 lives, 48 of them in the massive blaze known as the Camp Fire – the deadliest and most destructive fire in the state’s history. The Union for Reform Judaism has been and continues to be in touch with Reform congregations in affected areas, and they stand ready to provide whatever support they can.
At this time, the URJ reports that Temple Adat Elohim in Thousand Oaks, CA, has been affected by the fires, as has Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, CA. Rabbi Paul Kipnes, spiritual leader of Congregation Or Ami, writes,
With the sage advice from colleagues who went through the Santa Rosa fires, Houston floods and Parkland shootings, we are organizing and supporting our communities.
As for how to help, we have realized we cannot be distributors of things, as there are others that can do that better, and unless done right, one ends up with an overload of too much stuff. we’ve discovered that we can help people best as follows…”
Want to help? Here are the best ways to support these affected communities:
Congregation Or Ami’s Fire Response Fund, which is already helping those worst hit by the fires. Visit orami.org/donate.
The congregations will distribute donations to those with the greatest need.
Congregation Or Ami has requested gift cards to Target, Home Depot, Ralph’s Grocery, and Trader Joe’s. They can be sent to:
Congregation Or Ami
20058 Ventura Blvd. #304
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
Temple Adat Elohim has requested gift cards to Target, Walmart, Vons, Ralph’s Grocery, Whole Foods, Shell, Chevron, and ArcoUnion. They can be sent to:
Temple Adat Elohim
2420 E. Hillcrest Dr.
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
The Jewish Federations of North America has created a directed fund to support individuals and institutions impacted by the fires. One hundred percent of the donations will go directly to those who need it. To donate, visit www.jewishla.org/LAfires.
Our prayers go out to all those who have been impacted by these devastating fires.