P.S.: Clowning around, Bat Mitzvah on a boat, Birthright 2012, Planting for the future

“Confetti Clown” Susan Claassen

Clowning around
Susan Claassen, managing artistic director of the Invisible Theatre, has been a clown in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the past 11 years. She’s honored to have a photo of her and the other 2010 “Confetti Clowns” encircling the parade’s executive producer, Amy Kule, as part of the recently published “Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving and Holiday Cookbook.”
This keepsake volume celebrates the 85-year history of the parade and provides over 80 festive recipes by the 13 top chefs on the council. Chef Michelle Bernstein shares Chanukah dinner fare, including updated classics such as butter lettuce and shaved fennel salad, French bean and pearl onion ragout, scallion potato pancakes, Mom’s brisket, and zeppole (an Italian version of sufganiyot — fried doughnuts).
On to a dozen years of clowning on the streets of New York …


Bat Mitzvah celebrant Rachel Richter

Bat Mitzvah on a boat

On land or at sea, the venue might be different but the tradition is the same.
On Monday, Dec. 19, Rachel Richter became a Bat Mitzvah aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas weeklong sail from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Martin and back. Thirteen (fitting number!) family members and friends were present for this significant rite of passage. Tucson attendees included Rachel’s parents Allison and Michael Richter, her brother Noah, grandparents Leah Richter and Sandra and Sid Lachter, aunt Suzanne Stadheim and cousins Abigail and Andrew, plus uncle Marty Lachter (N.Y.) and friends Jessica and Brian Nau (Seattle).
Online, using Skype, Cantor Glenn Sherman of southern Florida worked with Rachel for seven months to prepare her for this special day. Our celebrant, part of the B’nai Mitzvah class at Congregation Chaverim, led the entire service, chanted from the Torah, and gave a speech. Her parents also spoke. Following the blessings over the wine and challah, the family enjoyed lunch together on the ship.
Sherman officiated at two more B’nai Mitzvah celebrations that day and led the well-
attended shipboard Shabbat service and chanukiah lighting during the week. The cantor used a small, airplane carry-on-sized Torah, a 200-year-old scroll presumably rescued from Poland during a pogrom. He claimed that Rachel was one of the first girls to read from it.
Grandma Leah summed up this experience:  “Being the first grandchild on both sides of the family, this was a major milestone and a unique celebration.”

Tucson Birthright Israel participants (L-R) Carly Winetrobe, Brandon Hellman, Maraiah Shevchuk, Ryan Phillips, Mitchell Kessler and Melissa Kessler overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem

Winter Taglit-Birthright Israel 2012
“Grateful for the opportunity to travel …
appreciative of the philanthropists who made it possible … connected to Israel and my new group of friends formed on this life-changing journey.” These were some of the comments from 39 University of Arizona students who, from Dec. 27 through Jan. 6, partook in the winter Birthright free trip to Israel to see the land of their heritage. Sharon Glassberg, UA HillelNEXT Jewish educator and director of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Coalition for Jewish Education, and Shani Knaani, UA Hillel Israel Fellow, accompanied the group, which included six Tucsonans — Brandon Hellman, Melissa Kessler,

Sharon Glassberg, Jean Glassberg and Adam Bukani taste wine at the Adir Winery in the Upper Galilee.Sharon Glassberg, Jean Glassberg and Adam Bukani taste wine at the Adir Winery in the Upper Galilee.

Mit­chell Kessler, Ryan Phillips, Mariah Shevchuk and Carly Wine­trobe.
The busload of Wildcats followed a hectic schedule. From north to south, Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, they visited the major historical sites and, to use their words, “rode, hiked, climbed, floated, ate, shopped and napped.”
Some of the trip highlights included visiting Shani’s home, Kibbutz Hulata, in northern Israel. The students bonded with the eight Israeli soldiers who rode on their bus for five days to have their own Birthright experience. At the Mega Event in Jerusalem, joined by thousands of other young Jews from around the world, the group heard from primary philanthropists Charles Bronfman, Michael Steinhardt and Lynn Schusterman, as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Earlier in the trip, they listened to Avraham Infeld, Hillel President Emeritus, who was in Tucson in early December to address the Jewish Federation Leadership Summit. Carly and Mariah received Jewish names at a ceremony beside the Dan River in Tel Dan National Park. The two also became B’not Mitzvah on Shabbat at the Rimonim Jerusalem Hotel.
Here are some impressions from this adventure:
Carly, a senior: “I didn’t do much Jewishly growing up. My Bat Mitzvah was a big step in recognition of my being Jewish, made all the more special in Israel.”
Mariah, a junior: “Israel and its people inspire me; I can’t wait to return. Hopefully, I can make aliyah and attend grad school there.”
Ryan, a junior, was impacted by the Golan Heights, noting its strategic location of history and conflict. “Following this trip, I plan to become more involved in Hillel.”
Mitchell, a senior, referred to the 10 days as “appetizers to get the taste buds wet” and left Israel wanting to return as a Jew to his homeland. It was special for him to travel with his sister Melissa, a UA sophomore.
• • • • •
At the end of Birthright, Jean Glassberg, Sharon Glassberg’s mother, flew to Israel to join Sharon and Sharon’s son Adam Bukani, who was on semester break from Aardvark, the Masa Gap Year program in Israel. The three generations toured and spent quality family time together.


Forest memorial plaque honoring Sara Ross’ mother and family

Planting for the future
In October, during Succot, Sara and Bob Ross took their fourth trip to Israel. What made this journey “very special,” says Sara, was a one-day Jewish National Fund tour. Sara and Bob were moved by the work that this nonprofit organization has accomplished since its inception in 1901. “The work that JNF does goes way beyond planting trees. It has water conservation projects, teaches youth about the environment and
ecology, and has built a bomb shelter in Sderot,” says Sara.
Sara’s maternal grandparents perished in the Holocaust; her mother was a Holocaust survivor. With funds from her mother’s estate, Sara and her family planted a JNF forest in Israel, dedicating this posthumous gift in memory of her mother’s parents. In the same forest, says Sarah, they’ll have an opportunity to honor their grandchildren on JNF’s B’nai Mitzvah Remembrance Wall. The stone wall, designed to look like a Torah scroll, is embedded with glass tiles that link a child’s name to a young Holocaust victim who was denied the opportunity to become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Sara and Bob intend to link their grandchildren’s names to a great aunt and great uncle who were also victims of the Holocaust.

Time to share
Keep me posted — 319-1112. L’shalom.