Local people, places, travels and simchas

(L-R) Birthday celebrant Ellis Friedman, Steven Stiglitz, Marnie Friedman and Irene Friedman

70th in shul
The day before his 70th birthday on Feb. 12, Ellis Friedman led the Shacharit and Musaf services and chanted the Maftir (Torah reading before the Haftorah) at Congregation Anshei Israel’s Shabbat morning service. His wife, Irene, gave the D’var Torah. Members of their havurah — Vivien and Jacques Gerstenfeld, Barbara and Martin Mannlein, Gail Mordka, Jack Pinnas, Sarah and Leonard Schultz, Trudy and Howard Schwartz, and Paul Smelkinson — were given honors as well. To make the occasion all the more special, Ellis and Irene’s daughter, Marnie, led the Torah service and chanted the Haftorah. When Marnie and her boyfriend, Steven Stiglitz, flew in from Los Angeles Feb. 11, they announced that they had become engaged the night before. Having told no one else, Ellis and Irene arranged for Rabbi Robert Eisen to give Marnie and Steve a special Mishebeirach (blessing) after the Maftir blessing. The rabbi said this was the first time he had the opportunity to announce an engagement from the bimah during a service.
Marnie and Steve met on J-Date and dated for 14 months. He proposed to her at Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles, where Marnie is on the board. The nuptials will take place there on Sept. 2. A hearty mazel tov to all!

Shira Michal, left, and Amanda Rothstein paint an apartment in Dimona, Israel, on JNF’s Alternative Spring Break

Amanda Rothstein, 21, a University of Arizona senior majoring in Judaic studies with a minor in health sciences, traveled on Jewish National Fund’s Alternative Spring Break to Israel March 10-18.
Now in its sixth year, this program gives Jewish college students, graduate students and young adults between 18 and 30 an opportunity to engage in community service in our homeland. Amanda had already participated in a Birthright Israel trip during her freshman year and studied at Tel Aviv University during spring semester of her sophomore year. She was now ready to give back to Israel and gain a different perspective of the land, its people and needs.
The 40 students, who were part of JNF’s Blueprint Negev campaign, were housed mainly in the Sde Boker guest house. Due to rocket attacks fired by terrorists from the Gaza Strip, their itinerary was altered to bypass Be’er Sheva and Sderot. Some of the hands-on, hard but fulfilling work projects the group participated in were painting subsidized, rent-controlled apartments in Dimona; weeding grapevines in the hot sun on Kerem Behar Hanegev farm; painting sculptures and building a pond at an artists’ garden in the desert; and moving stones in rain and mud in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood, where community activists turned a garbage dump into an urban green space with paths and terraces for a nature sanctuary.
As part of the educational component of the trip, the group met with students from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev who are working on alternative energy projects in the desert, including the largest solar energy field in Israel. In the Arava agricultural community, they witnessed high-tech water irrigation methods used to grow fruit and raise fish. Asked about David Ben-Gurion’s proclamation that the success of the new state would depend on its ability to make the Negev bloom, Amanda replied, “Little by little.”
Amanda stressed how many activities the group fit into each day and the close relationships that were formed. In closing, she acknowledged that she met a nice Jewish boy from New Jersey …

Hadassah Southern Arizona members in Tucson and Green Valley celebrated Hadassah’s 100th birthday last month

Party time for Hadassah
Hadassah is celebrating its 100th year, joining the Oreo cookie, Girl Scouts of America and the state of Arizona.
On March 22, members gathered for two local Home Sweet Hadassah celebrations. Anne Lowe, Hadassah Southern Arizona co-president with Iris Sapovits, led the Tucson program at Congregation Bet Shalom; Sapovits led the program at her home in Green Valley. Co-chairs Corinne Forti and Ruth Osobow planned the concurrent fundraising festivities, which featured hors d’oeuvres and desserts.
At the Tucson event, following proclamations and a video screening, Shelley Lipowich, treasurer, spoke of her husband, Maury, who was one of the Children of Tehran, Polish Jewish refugee children brought to Iran on their way to Palestine during World War II. Once in Palestine, Maury had the opportunity to meet Henrietta Szold, the Zionist founder of Hadassah, who interviewed every child. Leatrice Ennis, 84, was recognized as having the longest Hadassah membership — 66 years. Batsheva Popovzter, another member in attendance, was born at Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus before Israel became a state. She is proud that four of her children trained there to become doctors and that her family has been in Jerusalem for 11 generations.
Anne, in her sixth Hadassah presidency, has served in this capacity in different cities where she’s lived. She related a couple of vignettes of her Hadassah memories:
• Pee for Hadassah — In Princeton, N.J., Squibb Laboratories needed pregnant women’s urine for research and paid for it.
• First Gulf War — In Milwaukee, as Hadassah regional president, Anne was the youngest member to join 250 others in Israel at the beginning of the First Gulf War in January 1991. She was given a tour of the Mount Scopus campus and was introduced to the gas mask and safe room. Before leaving for this trip, members were asked to fill an extra suitcase with masking tape, used to seal off safe rooms. When she went to Ace Hardware and the store personnel and nearby customers learned of her mission, they donated many rolls of tape.
Hadassah, which boasts 300,000-plus members, is the largest Jewish organization in America and one of the largest women’s volunteer organizations in the world. It is known for its work in the fields of medicine, research and education. In conjunction with its milestone anniversary, Hadassah held the official opening of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower, a state-of-the-art hospital facility at Hadassah-Ein Kerem in Jerusalem.

Margo Gray, left, at a memorial service in Spain for the terror victims in Toulouse, France

Memorial service
Margo and Ron Gray traveled on Ayelet’s Jewish Tour of Lisbon and Spain March 11-25. While they were abroad, the heinous murders took place at the French Jewish day school in Toulouse. The next night, in front of the French Embassy in Sevilla, Margo attended an egalitarian service of remembrance and solidarity with 20 participants, organized by an aspiring rabbi from Cordoba. The leader of the Sevilla Jewish community was present, as were two Jewish immigrants from Argentina. Margo was asked to lead the Kaddish (memorial prayer).
Some highlights of the Grays’ two-week journey included visiting the Lisbon Synagogue (founded in 1902) where Portuguese descendants of Crypto-Jews are studying to convert back to Judaism, davening at Shabbat services in Barcelona at a Sephardic Orthodox Synagogue, and walking the Calls (Jewish neighborhoods) of Gerona (formerly a major Jewish center and home to Nachmanides, the Ramban), Granada, Cordoba (childhood home of Moses Maimonides, the Rambam), Toledo and Sevilla.

Time to share
Keep me posted for a May column before my summer hiatus — 319-1112. L’shalom.