In Focus 2011, Oct.-Dec.

Karen Hemmingsen (right) shows Kathy Khalsa how to braid with three strips of dough. Later she demonstrated with four and six strips.
(L-R) Minette Goldsmith, Ester Leutenberg, Esta Goldstein and Karen Hemmingsen knead dough.



In preparation for Yom Kippur, eight members of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona Northwest Division Rosh Chodesh group gathered at the home of Kathy Khalsa on Oct. 3 to learn the art of challah making from Karen Hemmingsen.





Guy Gelbart, director of the Weintraub Israel Center, left, talks to passersby at Tucson Meet Yourself, Sunday, Oct. 16.

The Jewish History Museum’s sukkah at the Tucson Meet Yourself festival Oct. 14-16 was the site of a Weintraub Israel Center open house on Sunday, Oct. 16. The Tucson Jewish Youth Choir and the Kol Shirah Community Chorus performed at the festival.







Parents and students place books in the Temple Emanu-El geniza at Shaarei Shalom cemetery on Sunday, Oct. 9.

On Sunday, Oct. 9, the day after Yom Kippur, Temple Emanu-El’s Kurn Religious School dedicated the congregation’s geniza located at Shaarei Shalom cemetery. In a ceremony led by Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon,  two large underground vaults were consecrated and filled with discarded sacred texts. A geniza is a depository or vault designed to store texts that contain the tetragrammaton — the holy, four letter name of God. Such texts cannot be thrown away and must be disposed of in a geniza or buried in a Jewish cemetery. About 125 students and their parents participated. For some children, says Cohon, it turned into a treasure hunt — they found books they wanted to take home, giving those books a new life. “For the kids,” he said, “it was exciting to sort through all kinds of well-used and loved texts,” while the burial created “a meaningful way to connect to the holiness of Torah and Jewish learning.”




Tidhar “Tidi” Ozeri of Ozeri Metal Designs and Meg Sivitz, vice president of Brandeis book business, with the new book bin.

The Tucson Chapter of the Brandeis National Committee has installed a new book deposit box, created by local metal artist Tidhar “Tidi” Ozeri, in the Tucson Jewish Community Center parking lot. Used books are collected for resale online and at the chapter’s annual used book sale in January. Proceeds benefit the Tucson Endowed Scholarship Fund for Brandeis University, with a preference for students from the Tucson area.







Past JCRC chairs Linda Tumarkin (left) and Janet Seltzer (right) present Donna Beyer with the 2011 Margie Fenton Award. The commemorative plate was created by local artist Julie Szerina Stein.

Donna Beyer received the Jewish Community Relation’s Council 2011 Margie Fenton Award at the JCRC’s annual meeting on Oct. 27. The award “recognizes an individual or group who has made a significant impact on our community with sensitivity, vision, creativity and caring, and has brought diverse people together by building bridges and strengthening relationships.” Beyer has served as the national Jewish Council for Public Affairs vice chair and past chair of the JCRC of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona. She helped create the local Jewish-Presbyterian Dialogue, has promoted Holocaust education in Tucson’s public schools and worked on multi-faith border issues




Nathan Shapiro, 93, and event volunteer Honey Manson share a laugh at the Handmaker event.

Around 80 people attended the third annual Celebration of Tucson’s Oldest Jewish Residents at Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging on Sunday, Oct. 23. Rabbi Richard Safran, the Jewish community chaplain, was presented with a plaque in recognition of his service.Around 80 people attended the third annual Celebration of Tucson’s Oldest Jewish Residents at Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging on Sunday, Oct. 23. Rabbi Richard Safran, the Jewish community chaplain, was presented with a plaque in recognition of his service.





Suzanne Amador (left) and Sharon Glassberg of the Coalition for Jewish Education at the Annual Fall Conference of the Arizona Council for the Social Studies

The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Coalition for Jewish Education hosted a booth at the Annual Fall Conference of the Arizona Council for the Social Studies at the Arizona State University West Campus on Oct. 28. More than 200 public and private school social studies teachers attended the conference and had the opportunity to receive free curriculum on Jews, Judaism and Israel to enhance their teaching of the social studies standards relating to these subjects. This summer, CJE Director Sharon Glassberg participated in the first national training conference hosted by the Institute for Curriculum Services, a division of the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco. The ICS is a national resource center for accurate Jewish content in schools. Information is available on the ICS website,, or by contacting Glassberg at the Jewish Federation, 577-9393.



Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin, director of development of Chabad of Tucson (center) with Army Reserve Chaplain Col. Jacob Goldstein (left) and Rabbi Berel Shemtov, director of Lubavitch Foundation of Michigan, at the Chabad gala.

Tucson rabbis Yossie Shemtov, Yehuda Ceitlin and Yossi Winner attended the 28th annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, held in New York Nov. 23-28. Britain’s Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks was among the guest speakers at a gala banquet on Sunday, Nov. 27.








(L-R) Corey Karp, Eshed Ozeri, Geva Ozeri, Shira Dubin and Rebecca Dubin watch as Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin of Chabad Tucson presses fresh olives, making pure olive oil as was done for the menorah in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

On Sunday, Dec. 4, Hanukkah Mall Madness at Park Place drew large crowds to tables set up by 14 local synagogues, agencies and organizations, where children could make a craft, play a game or have their faces painted. The Tucson Jewish Youth Choir and the Kol Shirah adult choir, both led by Cantor Janece Cohen, sang Chanukah songs. The program was organized by the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Outreach Connections.


Student leaders (back row, L-R): Shahar Ben-Yeoshua, Justin Gelzayd, Leah Rafal, Ethan Widdes, Alex Tichauer, Carly Winetrobe, Ari Fine; (front row): Aimee Kanter, Meryl Press, Nicole Siegel

The University of Arizona Hillel Foundation dedicated its new wing and renovated building on Sunday, Dec. 11. More than 155 participated in the event, which began with tours by student leaders. Speakers included Gary Kippur, capital campaign chair; Neal Kurn, a Phoenix community leader whose mother was a former UA Hillel director and whose late father-in-law, Meyer Agron, was a benefactor for the original UA Hillel building, which bears his name.


(L-R) Myrna Frish, Don Jeck and Peggy Langert

Congregation Anshei Israel held its second annual “Latkes & Vodkas” Adult Hanukkah Party on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the synagogue. More than 100 people attended, braving inclement weather to enjoy a variety of gourmet latkes and toppings, sufganiot and five different martini samples. Voted the favorite martini? Chocolate! Entertainment was provided by the Foothills High School Jazz Band.


Dressed as dreidels, 4- and 5-year-olds sing at Temple Emanu-El’s “Greatest Hanukkah on Earth! XIII.”

More than 500 people attended Temple Emanu-El’s “Greatest Hanukkah on Earth! XIII” on Sunday, Dec 11. The celebration included the lighting of the outdoor menorah and a show featuring the Avanim Rock Band, the Tucson Girls Chorus and performers of all ages singing songs  in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino and English,  plus drama, dance and story. A latke and brisket dinner prepared by the Temple’s Men’s Club and a kids’ Hanukkah Faire with dreidel art, games, a Wii tournament and gift bags followed.




Julie Szerina Stein looks on as Tally Barayeva and Jane Hiller glaze hanukkiot they made from clay.

For the past five years, the preschool/kindergarten at Congregation Anshei Israel has featured an art enrichment program. Local artist Julie Szerina Stein has been teaching the class for the last two years. Stein is well known in the community for her colorful drawings and clay Judaica pieces and has often been commissioned to create items gifted to community members honored by local Jewish agencies.