In Focus 2011, April – June

Baby owls wait in a cardboard box
Lou Rae Whitehead, Tucson Wildlife Center director of animal care, places an owlet in a pouch to be carried up to the nest by the center’s maintenance man, Presley Beach
Presley Beach returns an owlet to the nest. (Photos by Phyllis Braun)

Last week, a pair of baby great horned owls fell from a tree between the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona and Tucson Hebrew Academy. Alerted by David Stropka, who teaches science and math at THA, members of the Tucson Wildlife Center ( arrived March 30 to rescue the owlets by hanging a new nest on the tree, inside a plastic laundry basket. The mother owl watched the proceedings from high in a nearby tree, and later both owl parents were spotted roosting in their fledglings’ tree.


(L-R) Nikki Turner, Eva Turner, April Bauer, Rachel Levy, Deb Judin, Karen Judin




The Temple Emanu-El Kurn Religious School held a first aid/CPR class on Sunday, March 27, geared toward teens and pre-teens who babysit or help take care of siblings. Eleven students attended the class, taught by Fran Bickart, R.N., who is a certified first aid/CPR instructor through “Hands to Life.” All students who took the class received certification in CPR and first aid for adults, children and infants.






Sue Schurgin, chair of the TIPS Program (right) receives a check from (L-R) Liberty and Joy Wicklund.
Irving Roth receives a thank you gift from Liberty Wicklund, CUFI/UA treasurer as Michael Wicklund looks on.

Christians United for Israel on Campus at the University of Arizona celebrated its second annual Night to Honor Israel on April 11. Speaking to an audience of approximately 250 Jews and Christians on the 66th anniversary of his liberation from Buchenwald, Irving Roth told the story of his life and related the Holocaust to the current situation in the Middle East. CUFI/UA raised more than $2,300 for the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona TIPS (Tucson, Israel, Phoenix, Seattle) Partnership.




Temple Emanu-El Women’s Seder attendees dance around the room to the music of Debbie Friedman’s “Miriam by the Shores,” accompanied by Cantorial Soloist Marjorie Hochberg, Kurn Religious School musical co-director Julie Zorn and WRJ member Audrey Brooks on tambourine.

More than 130 women attended the Sixth Annual Women’s Seder held by the Women of Reform Judaism of Temple Emanu-El on April 11. The Miriam’s Cup award was presented to Ruth Reiter in recognition of her ongoing contributions to WRJ, Temple Emanu-El and the Tucson community.


(L-R)­: Todd Sadow, Bill Krones, Jonathan Bank, Damion Alexander, Michael Wexler, Andrew Isaac, David Plotkin

Seven members of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona Young Men’s Group worked on the Arizona Trail at Marsh Station and Zoo Stage Road on April 10 as their latest community service project.




Dan Bukhman (front) and advisor Shlomo Tsach with the Technion team’s plane.


Eleven engineering students and an advisor from The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology came to Tucson last month to compete in the 15th annual American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Cessna/Raytheon Missile Systems Student Design/Build/Fly competition. The Technion team came in first in the theoretical and lifting mission sections of the contest and overall finished eighth out of 83 teams from around the world. While in Tucson, the team met with Weintraub Israel Center Director Guy Gelbart and enjoyed a pool party with students from the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation.



Rabbi Stephanie Aaron leads the blessing of Kos Miriam (Miriam’s Cup) at the LGBT Jewish Inclusion Project Seder.


On April 19, the LGBT Jewish Inclusion Project of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona held its sixth annual second night Passover Seder at Congregation Chaverim. Forty-two people gathered, largely from the LGBTQ-Jewish community, more than double the attendance of previous years.






Along with traditional Passover symbols such as charoset and bitter herbs, the LGBT Seder included a second Seder plate with alternative symbols. Marc Paley, coordinator of the JFSA LGBT Jewish inclusion project, explains that the coconut recognizes those not fully seen by everyone in our society; the fruit salad honors that the world is enhanced by our diversity and unique perspectives; sticks and stones symbolize struggle and adversity we face along the way from other’s bigotry, fear, or ignorance; and flowers remind us of our inner beauty, radiance and the true nature of our neshama (soul).


Max Rusinov, Israel Fellow at the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation, stands at attention in his IDF uniform as Yael Laytin, a student at Tucson Hebrew Academy, reads the names of the fallen.


The Weintraub Israel Center held a Yom Hazikaron memorial service honoring Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror on Thursday, May 5, at the Tucson Jewish Community Center.  More than 200 attended.



Holocaust survivor Klara Swimmer lights a candle with students Sarah Hofstadter (center) and Alyssa Oberman.

The community’s Yom HaShoah commemoration was held Sunday, May 1 at Congregation Anshei Israel, with around 400 people in attendance. The service honoring victims and survivors of the Holocaust, coordinated by the Jewish Federation of Arizona Coalition for Jewish Education, featured presentations by members of the Hebrew High Commitment to Remember class, who have pledged to remember and retell local survivors’ stories.



Robbie Skolnik (left) and Ethan Widdes, ZBT fraternity brothers at the University of Arizona, help build a garden bed for Homer Davis Elementary School’s community garden.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona received a grant of $3,500 from the Jewish Council on Public Affairs for “Making a Difference Every Day: The Homer Davis Project.”  Around 86 percent of students at Homer Davis Elementary School receive free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch at school; JCRC works with the school to help meet the students’ nutritional needs year-round.
The JCPA grant funded the creation of a community garden, in partnership with Community Gardens of Tucson, on school grounds earlier this spring.  Volunteers from Homer Davis, the Jewish community and CGT, among others, worked over 100 hours to build the garden. Plots will be available for use by parents, members of the school community, and residents of the neighborhood.

Young Jewish Tucson co-chair Sara Lindenbaum (right) helps customers at the Homer Davis rummage sale.
Young Jewish Tucson co-chair Sara Lindenbaum (right) helps customers at the Homer Davis rummage sale.

In addition, St. Gregory’s College Preparatory School students raised monies to purchase a week’s worth of healthful groceries for 45 Homer Davis students to take home during their spring break. The St. Gregory’s students raised an additional $3,000 for JCRC’s Homer Davis Friday Food Pack program, which provides students with take-home snacks on weekends and breaks throughout the year, while Young Jewish Tucson held a rummage sale in March that raised $1,200 for student food packs.



Front row (L-R): Ron Grant (senior class faculty), Alexandra Thomas, Sarah Hofstadter, Abbey Roberts, Shoham Ozeri, Alyssa Oberman, Sharon Glassberg (principal and senior class faculty) Middle row: Zachary Makler, Alyssa Silva, Kayleigh Rulney, Lauren Berger Back row: Daniel Louchheim, Josh Waterman, Jacob Chess, Adam Friedman, Jonah Sharka, Adam Bukani, Bryan Davis (administrator)


Tucson Hebrew High held its 33rd annual graduation ceremony on Tuesday, May 10 at Congregation Anshei Israel.  The 15 graduates of the Class of 2011 spoke about their experiences at Hebrew High in classes, working on social action projects, partnering with Holocaust survivors in the Commitment to Remember program, and on travel learning opportunities such as the March of the Living in Poland and Israel and the Panim el Panim program in Washington, D.C.  This year’s graduation theme, “I Am From,” gave the students a framework to speak about who they are and where they are going as a result of their experiences at Hebrew High.


L-R: Sharon Klein, Mary Marcus, Janet Seltzer, Abby Rosen (front), Ori Parnaby, Ron Gray (obscured), Ann Rush, Marianne Langer, Rayna Gellman, Vicki Pepper Not pictured: Sharon Farquhar, Dan Jurkowitz, Helene Mittleman, Phil Pepper, David Plotkin, Marilyn Prensky, Helen Rib, Evelyn Sigafus, Joann Weinstein

As part of Congregation Anshei Israel’s 80th annual meeting held May 23,  outstanding volunteers for 2010-11 were recognized and presented with personalized metal plaques.







L-R: Lead donors Paul and Alice Baker, Harvey and Deanna Evenchik, Tandy and Gary Kippur, Helaine Levy





The University of Arizona Hillel Foundation held a groundbreaking for its expansion and renovation project on May 5.











Ten teens took part in the Weintraub Israel Center’s first Beth Weintraub Schoenfeld Memorial Israel Experience Program: Annual Israel Style Leadership Retreat June 1-2.  The retreat included outdoor teamwork and leadership building games; a screening of the Academy Award-winning movie “Strangers No More,” about a public school in Israel that embraces refugees and children of foreign workers from 48 countries as well as Jewish students from Israel; a Mount Lemmon overnight with a teen-led hike and presentations by the teens on various aspects of Israeli society; and a meeting with David Abraham, a Tucsonan who joined the IDF and became a tank commander

Hiking on Mount Lemmon: (L-R) Noam Shahar, Itai Kreisler, Ital Ironstone, Shoham Ozeri, Avi Penner, Nicholas Costello, Amanda Stafford, Moshe Badalov, Ben Daines (behind Moshe). Not pictured: Casey Brown.”




L-R: Guy Gelbart (Southern Arizona), Shelly Amyzur (Arkansas), Sharron Topper-Amitai (Northern Arizona), Gil Yaari (Texas and Young Judea nationwide) and Edna Lapidot (Oklahoma) at a breakfast meeting at Jasper.

The Weintraub Israel Center hosted a regional meeting of senior shlichim (emissaries) of the Jewish Agency for Israel May 23-24.