Former Tucsonans in Taiwan
From mid-January to mid-February, Lee Surwit visited her daughter Kara Cartin and family in Taipei. Kara and her husband, Josh, both former Tucsonans, moved to Taipei with their two daughters in 2013 for Josh’s diplomatic assignment. Kara recently met up with former Tucsonan Anne (Miller) Romanelli at a women’s event at the Taipei Jewish Center. Anne, also a former Tucsonan, and her husband, Joe, relocated to Taiwan with their four children last summer when Joe was transferred by his company, Merck.
The Taipei Jewish Center is the center of Jewish life for the approximately 400 Jewish residents. Headed by Chabad Rabbi Shlomi Tabib, with his wife, Racheli, and their children, the facility houses a synagogue and kosher store and provides the only kosher kitchen in greater Taiwan. With Shabbat meals and services, a Sunday school, and holiday and other programming, this active Jewish community center is a home away from home for many diplomats, businessmen, expats, teachers and students.
Lee chose this particular time to visit because her grandchildren had school vacation for Chinese New Year. A cute story: The entire family was invited to another couple’s home for a Chinese New Year Celebration. Kara and Josh had met the couple, he Jewish American and she Taiwanese, through the kids’ Sunday school. Guests, including the children, played Chinese mah jongg, using no card and no jokers (unlike American mah jongg, which uses both). Lee won one hand playing for chips, not money. Bams, cracks and “cookies” (not dots) — way to go Lee!
Next generation of Jewry
Over President’s Day weekend, Lola Maas, a sophomore at Tucson High Magnet School and Kadimah BBG chapter president, and Dreo Polonski, a sophomore at The Gregory School, attended the BBYO International Convention in Baltimore. This year’s theme was “It Starts With Us,” teaching these teen leaders how they can make a difference in their communities. Speakers included a video welcome from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and personal appearances by actor Justin Baldoni from TV’s “Jane the Virgin”; Daniel Lubetzky, CEO of Kind Snacks; Gideon Lichtman, a founding pilot in the Israeli Air Force, and dozens more. Lola’s favorite programs focused on modern Judaism, addressing such issues as gender equality and equality in the LGBQT community. At this, one of the largest Jewish communal events of the year, Lola and Dreo helped set the world record for the largest Shabbat dinner celebration, with 2,400 teens from more than 20 countries gathered in one room. On the final night, attendees enjoyed a concert with special guests Jason Derulo, The Mowgli’s and Cash Cash.
During the meeting, Lola reconnected with Lindsay Migdal, former Tucson BBYO city director who’d accompanied her to the convention last year in Atlanta. Lindsay has since moved to Boulder, joining the University of Colorado Boulder Hillel staff.
Phoenix Suns game day
Purple and orange were the colors of the day at the Phoenix Suns Talking Stick Resort Arena on Sunday, Feb. 21. The Suns’ day game against the San Antonio Spurs, also members of the NBA’s Western Conference, was a close matchup, with the Spurs coming out on top, 118-111. In spite of the loss, it was an afternoon of good friends, food and fun for Esther and Michael Berren, Lori and Harvey Meislin, and Patricia and Harry Schlosser.
Lori and Harvey have fond memories of one of their first dates at a Chicago Bulls vs. Phoenix Suns game at Chicago Stadium back in the ’70s. At the time, she was working as a nurse and he was in medical residency training at University of Chicago Medical Center, where they met.
At halftime of the Sunday game, Tucson born, bred, and University of Arizona-educated Suns owner Robert Sarver graciously greeted the group and posed for a photo. On to the rest of the season … play ball!
Winter in Tucson
During one week in January, three New Yorkers spoke in Tucson for three different groups. Israeli-born chef/restaurateur Einat Admony addressed the Lions of Judah, fashion film producer Ari Seth Cohen was featured at the Tucson International Jewish Film Festival, and Bronx historian Stephen Samtur reminisced at a local Bronx club luncheon. It was likely no coincidence that they were in our fair city during the balmy month of January instead of sizzling June or July.
On Feb. 22, the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona hosted a winter residents’ dessert reception at the home of Thelma and Jerry Nathanson. Close to 50 guests gathered to mingle and learn about our Jewish community. Federation CEO Stuart Mellan, board president Tom Warne and campaign chair Shelly Silverman spoke of our state-of-the-art agencies, programming, fundraising and outreach to the entire community.
Candace and Bernie Alper from West Bloomfield, Mich., came to Tucson at the recommendation of a friend, as did Shayla and Bernie Kay from Toronto, Canada. The Alpers first visited Tucson in the late ’70s, staying at the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch to give their children the Western experience. Years later, they returned, first staying in a hotel, then renting for a few years, and now owning a home here. The Kays arrived as tourists a few years ago, then tried Florida, but preferred our “better, healthier weather.” Shayla finds Tucson friendly and the Jewish community organized. She rattled off Monday through Thursday activities at the Tucson Jewish Community Center and the Federation’s Northwest Division in which she has become active and connected. Others at the event have made similar connections, participating in Federation, synagogues, Brandeis, Hadassah and other organizations. Our tight-knit Jewish community is enriched by these interested and interesting folks.
Time to share
Keep me posted at the Post — 319-1112. L’shalom.