From Tucson to New York, celebrating local people, places, travels and simchas

Festival of booths

Rhea and Arnie Merin in their sukkah

Eight years ago, Arnie Merin bought a sukkah kit through the Sukkah Project at Sukkot.com. It is a cube (8 feet x 8 feet), big enough for a small table and 4-5 chairs. With assistance from his wife, Rhea, the small hut takes an hour to assemble. No tools are required, just wing nuts and bungee cords. The schach (roofing material) is woven reed fence from Home Depot, plus palm fronds. In order to obtain that fresh green look, every year on the Sunday before Sukkot, Arnie would trim a palm tree at the home of the late Rev. Nachman Berkowitz. Now he uses oleanders and other bushes around his own house. Arnie decorates the inside with photos of Israel and posters about the holiday. An Israeli flag hangs outside the entrance.

During the holiday, Arnie “dwells” in his sukkah by eating breakfast there every morning and dessert and coffee every evening. He also davens Maariv and studies about Sukkot. This year, he read Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ new book, “Ceremony & Celebration: Introduction to the Holidays.”

While growing up in Baltimore, Arnie never had a sukkah, relying on the shul’s temporary dwelling. He derives a great deal of joy from building and being in a sukkah, which epitomizes one of the purposes of this festival. It gives him the opportunity to do something physical, not just spiritual. Arnie and Rhea welcome ushpizin (guests) into their sukkah each night and gaze at the starlit skies over Tucson.

Up with People

Emily Youngerman with “JR” at her family’s Stonegate Ranch

Emily Youngerman was recently accepted to join the July 2018 cast of Up with People. UWP, headquartered in Tucson from 1965–1993 before relocating to Denver, is a global nonprofit music and service education organization whose mission is to inspire young people to make a difference in the world. The cast of 100 will train for four weeks in Denver before traveling to communities across two or three continents. Youngerman will live with local host families, participate in service projects, learn about different cultures through educational workshops, and perform UWP’s musical stage production.

Youngerman, a Tucson Hebrew Academy grad who is currently a University High School senior, has looked forward to a gap year, hoping to gain travel-bound real world experience before college. She has been an active member of the Rincon/UHS drama program since freshman year, and played the lead in their recent production of “Blues Talking.” Youngerman is a member of the UHS student council and heads the Anti-Hate and Discrimination Committee. Growing up on her family’s Stonegate Ranch, she is also a skilled equestrian. Jewishly, Emily became a bat mitzvah at Congregation Or Chadash, chants Torah for the congregation, attends Hebrew High, and has worked at Camp Mountain Chai, a Jewish overnight camp in the San Bernardino Mountains of California.

One of the Skype UWP interview questions was “What do you have to offer our group?” Youngerman responded that she comes from a unique background as a true Jewish rancher, living amid our vibrant Tucson Jewish community. She is thrilled to become part of the UWP family and represent the broader American Jewish community.

The sidewalks of New York

Barbara Harris at her former 92nd Street Y Residence

Who says “you can’t go home again”? Sure, places change and you can’t turn back the clock, but the memories endure.

From Oct. 3–10, Barbara Harris and her husband, Richard White, visited New York. Forty-seven years ago, Barbara lived at the 92nd Street Y on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Its full name was the 92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association (YM-YWHA). Today the building is a nonprofit cultural and community center. Barbara carried with her a postmarked letter dated 1970 from her brother at her 92Y address: 1395 Lexington Ave. — Room 950-B, NY, NY 10028. She called ahead and was told that, for security reasons, she would not be allowed access in the building. Upon arrival, however, the staff could not have been nicer. They allowed them to ride the elevator up, take pictures, and recount memories. Barbara’s daughter, Sami Lehrman, who grew up in Tucson and now works in Manhattan, joined them. She viewed where her mother had lived, a dorm-style residence housing students, interns, and fully employed young men and women. At the time, Barbara worked as assistant to a yarn buyer in the clothing industry. Her shared room at the 92Y was a stepping stone to renting her own Manhattan apartment.

Barbara and Richard enjoyed a full week’s itinerary in the Big Apple. Some highlights included:

• 9/11 Memorial and Museum

• Walking tour of Brooklyn (they later walked across the Brooklyn Bridge)

• Architectural boat tour of Manhattan’s bridges and infrastructure

• Lower East Side Tenement Museum – “Hard Times” and “Outside the Home” tours, which took them past the Museum at Eldridge Street, housed in the 1887 Eldridge Street Synagogue

• Museum of the City of New York

Inside Broadway walking tour of the theater district

• Delis: Katz’s (Lower East Side) and Barney Greengrass (Upper West Side)

As I always say, nice to go and nice to come. Welcome back home — to Tucson!

Time to share

Keep me posted at the Post – 319-1112. L’shalom.