In Focus 2013, April-July
More than 175 people gathered on Sunday, March 17 at the Perach Yisroel/Flower of Israel Mikveh at Congregation Chofetz Chayim for the dedication of 14 stained glass windows representing Women of Valor inside the mikveh and a wall sculpture honoring supporters outside the building.
The Jewish-Latino Teen Coalition took its annual trip to Washington, D.C., April 7-11. This year the teens chose to advocate for gun safety, using their personal perspectives as high school students and friends of victims of the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting in Tucson. While in Washington, a member of the coalition participated in a panel on immigration reform by sharing her personal story. The coalition members also met with various national advocacy groups, members of Congress and Senate staff members to lobby for gun safety. The group visited the Martin Luther King Jr. and Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorials with a D.C.-based African-American and Jewish teen group, and toured Smithsonian museums and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The Jewish-Latino Teen Coalition was founded in 2003 by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona and the office of U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva. Lew Hamburger, Shari Gootter, Lisa Kondrat and José Miranda served as adult chaperones on the trip.
More than 70 people attended the Tucson Jewish Community Center’s Puttin’ on the Ritz … Cracker! gala event for families of children of all ages on Saturday, April 6. The event, a chance for children and adults to dress their best, included a magic show, dance party with DJ, photo booth and refreshments.
On Monday, April 15, the Tucson Jewish Community Center’s after-school and family engagement enrichment series “J-Care Performing Arts Club” performed an adapted Jewish musical version of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” entitled “The Three Taishim Chaverim” or “The Three Goat Friends.” The play was the culmination of a 10-week program taught by the JCC’s Jewish culture specialist, Susan Kravitz, and music specialist, Julie Zorn. The pair cowrote and codirected the play.
The University of Arizona Hillel Foundation signed up 131 potential bone marrow and stem cell donors on behalf of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. Hillel held the registration drive on the UA Mall on Wednesday, April 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
More than 170 people attended the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona Men’s Night Out dinner on Thursday, April 25 at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. Former Yankee Ron Blomberg was the guest speaker.
About 130 students from pre-kindergarten through 7th grade celebrated Israel’s 65th birthday with a mini-Maccabiah program on Sunday, April 14. The event, held at Congregation Anshei Israel, was a collaborative effort between CAI’s Rabbi Ben Herman and Rina Liebeskind, education director at Congregation Or Chadash. Activities included Israeli dancing, gaga (Israeli dodge ball), krav maga (an Israeli martial art), making cards for soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces, an Israel trivia game and packing lunches for homeless men at the Primavera shelter.
On Tuesday, May 7, the 35th graduating class of Tucson Hebrew High held its commencement ceremony. The event, held at Congregation Anshei Israel, included community rabbis and cantors as well as Hebrew High choir students, with catering provided by the Hebrew High cooking class.
On Sunday, May 5, at Temple Emanu-El’s 103rd annual congregational meeting, Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon and the Temple’s board of directors dedicated a Wall of Recognition honoring participants in the Temple’s Second Century Legacy Fund. The project, which pays homage to all who have made bequests to the Temple endowment funds, was made possible through a grant from the Areivim Legacy Project through the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona. Created by artist Nina Borgia-Aberle, owner of La Ceramica, the wall features a design of pomegranates, with donors’ names inscribed within pomegranate blossoms. More than 50 people have pledged to the project to date.
Four-week-old Baby Charlotte received a handmade blanket in a Shalom Baby gift bag from Outreach Connections, which is a joint project of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona and the Tucson Jewish Community Center. The bags for new Jewish babies in Southern Arizona include a blanket, tzedakah box from Congregation Anshei Israel, sippy cup from the JCC, greeting card assortment from Hadassah Southern Arizona, book from PJ Library and bib from the Tucson Hebrew Academy. For more information on Shalom Baby bags, contact Anne Lowe, outreach director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 577-9393 ext. 130. Charlotte’s mother, Sarah, also brings her and her big brother, Andrew (18 months) to the PJ Library/NW group that meets two Thursday mornings a month at the Jewish Federation-Northwest for songs and stories. For more information, contact Mary Ellen Loebl, PJ Library coordinator, at email@example.com or 577-9393, ext. 138.
Rabbi Billy Lewkowicz, Tucson Hebrew Academy director of Judaics/Hebrew studies, and teacher Marlene Abraham took eight eighth grade graduates to Israel from May 22 to June 1. One highlight of the trip for the students, says Lewkowicz, was meeting students from Kibbutz Yad Mordechai in Tucson’s TIPS Partnership2Gether region of Hof Ashkelon. During an ice-breaking activity, he notes, one Israeli student mentioned casually that he’d spent 10 days that winter at a kibbutz in the north of Israel, in order to escape the barrage of missiles from Gaza. “Our kids were amazed by that,” he says,
adding that the Tucsonans were impressed by the strong bonds among the Israeli students. Another memorable moment, he says, was dancing at the Kotel on Friday night with hundreds of Americans on Birthright Israel trips, Israeli soldiers and Chasidim. “Everybody looked different but all were singing the same songs. Our kids just felt like they belonged,” he says.
Temple Emanu-El and St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church recently held their seventh annual pulpit exchange. On Friday, May 31, the Rev. Canon John Kitagawa delivered a sermon at Temple Emanu-El’s Shabbat evening service titled “The Why Factor.” Senior Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon delivered a sermon titled “Belief Now” at St. Philip’s on Sunday, June 1, at the 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. worship services. The two congregations have shared many adult education classes and interfaith services and in June 2012, members of both congregations traveled on an interfaith pilgrimage trip to Israel led by Kitagawa and Cohon.
Congregation Or Chadash held a groundbreaking ceremony June 12 for the installation of a 1400-square-foot sun shade, which will cover the patio. An additional shade will cover the walkway between the community room and classrooms. Lighting and a mister will be included. Funds for the project were raised through the assistance of the religious school, the Bar Mitzvah project of Noah Meyer and other contributions. The project is expected to be completed by Aug. 1.
On Tuesday, June 5, participants in the Beth Weintraub Schoenfeld Memorial Israel Experience Program, a joint project of the Council for Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona and the Weintraub Israel Center, came together with teens in the Bonim leadership training program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center camp to learn about Israel through discussions with JCC camp shlichot (young adult emissaries from Israel), preparing Israeli foods with Asher Amar of L’Chaim Kosher Catering, and hearing from Max Gan, a member of the Hebrew High Class of 2009 who is visiting Tucson after three years in the Israel Defense Forces as a paratrooper. Gan talked to the group about his connection to Israel, which led him to make aliyah. The program, dedicated to the memory of Beth Weintraub Schoenfeld, a Tucson native who developed a love of Israel in high school that provided the impetus for her to make aliyah and raise a family in Israel, gives Tucson teens a $500 subsidy toward participation in organized teen Israel experiences.
Close to 100 people attended Congregation Or Chadash’s Prickly Pear Extravaganza and Casino Night fundraiser, held Sunday, June 9, at El Parador restaurant. Mark Ross, past president of Or Chadash, knocked out Mayor Jonathan Rothschild in the poker tournament and came in second overall; the winner was Paul Kitner, III.
Twenty-five students and six chaperones from Temple Emanu-El and Congregations Chaverim and Or Chadash visited Jewish sites in Los Angeles from May 30 through June 3 to celebrate the students’ completion of religious school. The trip included a tour of the Skirball Museum, a scavenger hunt in the Pico-Robertson Jewish neighborhood and lunch at Nagila Meating Place kosher restaurant, where a mechitzah (partition) divides the dairy and meat sections. New to the annual trip this year were visits to the Stephen S. Weiss Temple and the Wilshire Boulevard Temple and Shabbat morning prayers and a D’var Torah on the beach at the Santa Monica Pier. The trip also included stops at Disneyland and the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.