25 years of healing and hope
This summer, the Dream Street Foundation, a California-based nonprofit organization, celebrated 25 years at Canyon Ranch in Tucson. Thanks to the generosity of ranch founders Enid and Mel Zuckerman, hundreds of Dream Street campers with chronic and life-threatening illnesses have enjoyed activities promoting personal healing, growth and acceptance, surrounded by their peers. The ranch hosts two one-week Dream Street sessions, targeting young adults. Camp is free and the counselors and medical staff are all volunteers. Veteran Tucson volunteers Alice Steinfeld, a psychotherapist; and Jane Barton, an artist, have helped forge lifelong memories for these young adults.
Game on y’all!
That was the slogan for the 2015 JCC Maccabi Games held in Dallas Aug. 2-7. Catalina Foothills High School sophomores Sam Beskind and Spencer Lewis played for Team Scottsdale Basketball, part of the JCC Maccabi Team Phoenix. The Tucson players were recruited by the coaches from Scottsdale who had watched them play on the Amateur Athletic Union circuit. Sam, a guard, was the team’s leading scorer, and Spencer, a point guard, hit three 3-pointers and six straight foul shots in the fourth quarter of the final game to beat the 92nd Street Y from New York City and secure the gold medal.
The boys have been playing basketball together since age 6, beginning at the Tucson Jewish Community Center and now for the CFHS Falcons. They participated in the Junior Maccabi Games in Chicago four years ago and recently competed in the 16-under division. Along with the sports competition, on Wednesday, Aug. 5, the athletes took part in the Maccabi day of community service, which focused on hunger and food insecurity. Service projects included farming/landscaping and packing food for people in need in the Dallas area.
Sam summed up his participation: “The Maccabi Games in Dallas this past summer was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. I developed amazing friendships, had an amazing time and winning gold was a fantastic finishing touch.” Spencer’s dad, Robbie Lewis, marveled at the organizational feat of coordinating the games, from host families to evening activities. We in Tucson are keenly aware of this, as the Tucson J hosted the 2000 Maccabi Games, chaired by Bill Viner.
Happy “Roshanukah” reunion
Over the weekend of Sept. 19, Sue Ross and her extended family from across the country gathered in Westchester County, N.Y., for their annual Chanukah celebration. Due to possible snowy and inclement weather during Chanukah in December, 35 relatives, ages 9 to 103, traveled from New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Florida and Arizona and converged at Sue’s nephew’s home in Katonah, near Chappaqua, for this “Roshanukah” (between Rosh Hashanah and Chanukah) party.
The festivities included lighting the menorah, reciting the blessings, singing songs, spinning the dreidel, and giving the kids presents. The focus was on their beloved 103-year old aunt, Edna Sweder, matriarch of the family. Aunt Edna lit the first candle, followed by eldest to youngest. Each took turns lighting the chanukiah with Edna and then joining her for a photo (like the candle-lighting ceremony at a bar/bat mitzvah). And of course, there was food! For the latkes, Sue followed their family recipe, using boiled mashed potatoes instead of grated raw ones. The rest of the recipe included the usual ingredients: matzah meal, egg, onion powder, salt, pepper and oil.
This 70th family gathering is similar to a cousins club, with the younger generation picking up the torch and carrying on the yearly tradition. L’dor v’dor.
Following the High Holidays, the harvest festival of Sukkot is a time of hospitality. For more than 20 years, Bob and Amy Direnfeld have been building a sukkah. The structure has gone through several modifications but is still the same basic design. They use the same conduit as booths at street fairs, with the sides made of rolling shades. The set-up area has pipe sleeves in the ground to hold the four corner posts of the frame. Bob says erecting and taking down the sukkah are not necessarily safe endeavors. One year, he suffered a fractured leg after the ladder slipped out from under him; another year, he developed blood poisoning after being stuck in a finger bone by a palm frond needle! Sukkot is Amy’s favorite holiday, bringing back fond childhood memories. Their children, Elayna and David, now grown, always enjoyed decorating the sukkah with arts and crafts made in Congregation Anshei Israel’s preschool or religious school. The Direnfelds’ temporary dwelling has hosted family, their unofficial havurah, religious school classes, USY progressive dinners and roaming Bunco and mah jongg games. This year, with both sets of parents present — Merrill and Phyllis Broad and Ted and Judy Direnfeld — they gazed with binoculars at the rare supermoon eclipse on Sunday, Sept. 27, the first night of the holiday.
Time to share
Keep me posted of your news — 319-1112. L’shalom.