Local people, places, travels and simchas – 3.25.11

Cantorial cruise

Stuart and Marianne Taussig aboard “Kosherica” cruise

For a week in January, it was smooth sailing for Marianne and Stuart Taus­sig aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines. The couple celebrated their 17th anniversary on Jan. 16 on board their Western Caribbean-bound ship. Their itinerary was billed as “Kosherica: Glatt Kosher Jewish Music Festival At Sea.” Their group, 400 of the 2,500 total passengers, enjoyed up to three concerts per day along with lectures, minyanim (Shachrit, mincha and maariv services), fun programming and gourmet cuisine.

Some of the world-renowned cantors and singers included Chaim Adler, Dudu Fisher, Avraham Fried, Daniel Gildar, Lipa Schmeltzer and Yaakov Stark. Other up-and-coming cantors were Tsodik Greenwald, Netanel Hershtik, Yaakov Lemmer and Aaron Shifman.

The concerts, performed in the main theater, were scheduled around the ship’s regular programming, so that cruisers could partake in all of the activities offered. Passengers embarked and disembarked in Miami and the ports of call included Honduras, Belize, Mexico, and Key West. On Shabbat, the cantors and singers became a choir; one cantor led the service while the others sang in unison.

For the Taussigs, the “Ask the Chazzan” lecture was a highlight, as the cantors were very approachable, with many of the younger cantors traveling with their families. Stuart commented, “There was a lovely camaraderie amongst the cantors on this international, intergenerational voyage.”

This trip was the Taussigs’ second cantorial cruise, following one they took a few years ago with the Miami Chabad. Would they travel on another one? “Absolutely!”

Teaching tzedakah

Super Sunday co-chair Andy Shatken with Geva Ozeri

Geva Ozeri, a fourth grader at Tucson Hebrew Academy, was playing in the Tucson Jewish Community Center All-Stars Basketball League championship game on Jan. 30, which coincided with Super Sunday, also being held at the JCC. His team came in second, winning all but two games in the league’s season playoffs. His family planned to celebrate over dinner; however, when his father, Tidhar, explained what the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Super Sunday Campaign was all about, Geva decided to donate the money they would have spent on dinner. While waiting to make his pledge, Geva and his sister Eshed, a THA sixth grader, made get-well cards for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a Federation Super Sunday outreach activity. Their older sister Shoham, a Tucson High Magnet School senior and B’nai Tzedek teen philanthropy volunteer, had already spent her afternoon writing thank-you notes to Campaign donors.

Proud mother, Nancy, admitted no coaxing on her part. “I wish I could take credit,” she said, “but the pledge was Tidi’s idea. Our kids amazed us by stepping up and putting the community’s needs before their own wants.”

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Ethan, Riley and Bennett Silvyn with their Homer Davis Elementary School food donation

The Silvyn children, Bennett, 9, and twins Ethan and Riley, 6, students at Canyon View Elementary School, recently celebrated their February birthdays. Instead of receiving presents, they asked party guests to bring food donations for the JFSA Jewish Community Relations Council’s Homer Davis Project. The project supports children at Homer Davis Elementary School, many of whom receive subsidized school breakfasts and weekend food packs. Last year, the Silvyn children made a similar request for school supplies. Congregation Or Chadash’s Sunday School Director, Rina Liebeskind, has heeded the call from the JCRC to support this worthwhile project. Congregants Keri and Jeffrey consider this mitzvah of tzedakah a valuable lesson for their kids about giving to the less fortunate. Other parents have said they plan to emulate this good deed with their own children.

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Shira Steinberg with a furry friend from Project Huggables

Shira Steinberg, a Catalina Foothills High School senior, organized a stuffed animal drive, Project Huggables, to benefit Homer Davis students. The children received the stuffed animals during the last week of school before winter break.

“Teenagers like me, who don’t have lots of time or money to give, can help others in our community,” said Shira, who was inspired by the character Andy in the movie “Toy Story 3.” Like Andy, she and her classmates will be heading to college soon, so they donated their stuffed animals to a good cause. Personal notes accompanied many of the stuffed animals. These messages mentioned the animal’s name and the original owner’s hope that the recipient would love and treat it well; in return, the stuffed animal would love him/her back. Steinberg donated 20 of the 302 stuffed treasures. Besides her friends, the Catalina Foothills Key Club donated almost half of the total collected, and its affiliated Kiwanis Club contributed funds to buy extra stuffed animals and materials.

Shira summed up this undertaking, “The thank-you notes that the kids wrote back made all of our effort worth it!”

Time to share

Spring has sprung, and before we know it, summer hiatus will be upon us. So keep me posted on your latest happenings — 319-1112. L’shalom.