A coveted invitation
Tucsonans Gloria and Michael Goldman were among the approximately 500 guests at the White House Chanukah party on the evening of Dec. 17, the same day Alan Gross was released from a Cuban prison.
The Goldmans secured the email invitation through a friend’s son, Matthew Nosanchuk, who is the White House Jewish liaison. The couple relished the chance to visit significant rooms in the White House, take photos, enjoy delicious holiday fare and hear music by the U.S. Marine Band. The food preparation was under the strict supervision of Rabbi Levi Shemtov of the American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) of Washington, D.C., Rabbi Angela Buchdahl of New York City, the first Asian-American rabbi, recited the blessings. As she performed the candlelighting ceremony, she said, “Our founding fathers … could not have imagined that in 2014, there would be a female Asian-American rabbi lighting the menorah at the White House for an African-American president.”
Talk about American opportunity and Chanukah miracles.
Former Tucsonan leads “Today”
Noah Oppenheim has been named senior vice president of NBC’s “Today” show and will oversee both television and digital operations starting next month.
Noah moved to Tucson with his family at the beginning of seventh grade. He became a bar mitzvah at Temple Emanu-El and graduated from the Tucson High School for Jewish Studies (“Hebrew High”). Oppenheim is a 1996 graduate of The Gregory School (formerly St. Gregory College Preparatory School), where he served as editor and a writer for the school newspaper, The Gregorian Chant. In 2000 he earned a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Harvard University, where he was editorial chair of the Harvard Crimson.
An Emmy-winning former senior producer of the “Today” show, Oppenheim accepted this new position at the network in New York after stints with Reveille, a Los Angeles entertainment production company, and as a screenwriter, whose credits include 2014’s “The Maze Runner.”
Visiting with PJ Library’s founder
“Bagels from Benny,” “Hanukkah at Valley Forge,” “The Bedtime Sh’ma” and “Joseph Had a Little Overcoat.” These books are among the award-winning titles received in the mail by children locally and throughout North America from PJ Library. The program sends free Jewish-content children’s books and music to Jewish and interfaith families with children between 6 months and 8 years of age, on a monthly basis by subscription. It is largely underwritten by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation but dependent on local donors. This fall, the Southern Arizona Jewish community was chosen to participate in a special initiative called PJ Goes to School, which seeks to engage teachers, children and families in conversations about Jewish values by using these books as a catalyst. The 3- and 4-year-old classes at the Tucson Jewish Community Center’s Early Childhood Education program and the Esther B. Feldman Preschool/Kindergarten at Congregation Anshei Israel are using PJ Library books, along with resource guides, monthly enewsletters and professional development. PJ Our Way is the next chapter of PJ Library for kids ages 9-11, which allows kids to go online each month to choose the book they want. Our community hopes to become a pilot city for PJ Our Way in the future.
On Tuesday, Feb. 3, philanthropist Harold Grinspoon, founder of PJ Library, met with PJ Library Southern Arizona donors over lunch at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona. According to Mary Ellen Loebl, the local PJ Library coordinator, the meeting ranged from PJ programs to philanthropy to marketing. From January 2009-January 2015, more than 1,200 children were enrolled in PJ Library Southern Arizona, which includes Cochise, Graham, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz and Yuma counties. Today, enrollment reaches 33 percent (689) of the Jewish kids “out there”; the goal is 50 percent, or 1,000 Jewish children, and discussion followed on ways to accomplish this.
Time to share
Keep me posted — 319-1112. L’shalom.