Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
January 12, 2018     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 15     (15 of 36 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 15     (15 of 36 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
January 12, 2018

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2020. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 12, 2018 PAGE 15A Rust Belt From page IA Bright eyed and lively, Bruce Waldman told me that he was born in New Castle in 1942, and that one day he will be buried here. His plot in the Tifereth Israel cemetery is already designated. Wald- man's father also was a New Castle native and is buried here. His grandfather, who was among the New Castle Jewish community founders, had emigrated from Eastern Europe via Pittsburgh, 50 miles south. When Waldman was a boy in the 1950s, the town's population reached its peak of 48,834. At the time, the Jewish community boasted two synagogues, the Reform Temple Israel joining Tifereth Israel, with 300 to 400 active families in total. As the economy changed in the 1960s, New Castle's popu- lation dwindled, alongwith so many other Rust Belt cities. By 1990, the numbers had dipped to 28,334 residents; today the number stands at about 23,000. Those look- ing for a more robust Jewish community for their children went elsewhere. Others simply moved away for better eco- nomic opportunities. Wald- man's two sons left for college and never returned. One now lives in Sydney, Australia, and the other in New York. Facedwith shrinking num- bers, the town's two Jewish congregations merged in 1997. The newly named Tem- ple Hadar Israel operated out of the Tifereth Israel building and remained affiliated with the Conservative movement. The consolidation helped retain some vibrancy. Still, as the population continued to age and young people became scarce, it became difficult to gather a minyan, or quorum, for Shabbat services. Mem- bers began to consider the possibility of winding down synagogue operations. "We never ran out of mon- ey," Sam Bernstine, the congregation's president said, "but we ran out of people." About five years ago, Tem- ple Hadar Israel members reached out to the Jewish Community Legacy Project, or JCLP, an organization that works with small, dwindling congregations to help insure their legacies. A partnership of the Jewish federations, the Reform and Conservative movements, and two national Jewish historical societies, the JCLP helps congregations preserve historic documents, catalog and dispose of ritual objects, create oral histories and divvy up assets. JCLP says it has worked with 50 such communities and identified 100 more that meet its criteria for assistance. Bernstine cares deeply about the congregation, which helped raise him after he lost his mother to cancer when he was 9 years old. His loyalty, though, never got in the way of his pragmatism. "Do you want a dignified end?" he asked his fellow congregants. "Or do you want the last person left to have to shut off the lights?" Bernstine said his goal was to have the congregation face its own end in a "respectful manner," to be "in control of our own destiny." Step by step the synagogue divested of its material assets. The congregants sold the building, with the agreement that they could rent backspace from the new owners and continue to meet in the sanctuary. They donated their synagogue records, photographs and a few ritual items to the Rauh Jewish History Archives at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, the Klau Library of Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion and the Lawrence County Historical Society. The yahrtzeit plaques posed a more delicate problem because each of them has a connection to a particular person. Members who still live in New Castle claimed their family members', and efforts were made to locate relatives of those who grew up in New Castle but were now scattered across the country. Whoever took control had to face the question ~f what to do with the plaques. "I am not going to throw them out, but I dor't want them hanging in m; living room," one woman bid me, speaking about her larents' plaques. She placed hem in a box and keeps then in her basement. Alan Samtels took his parents' plaques to the cemetery and affixel them into their headstones Temple Hadar's nire Torah scrolls went to congregations across the world to hep those struggling to get by aid rein- vigorate others. One vent to the new Progressive ongre- gation Beit Centrum fi Toy in Warsaw and another vas sent to a tiny community ia Indo- nesia that recently revived its connection to the Jewish world. One went to a I-ouston congregation that saffered damage in the recenifloods. Other recipients inclded a Reconstructionist congrega- tion in Cleveland, a Reform temple in South Carolina and three summer camps. Next month, the last re- maining scroll will be donated to the Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh amid a weekend of festivities. Even with the great care to find a home for each ritual object, some remained or- phaned. Among them were prayer books, prayer shawls, curtains for the Torah ark and many unclaimed yahrtz- eit plaques. Rather than dispose of them, a burial was planned. On Dec. 30, the members of Temple Hadar Israel held prayer services in their sanc- tuary for the last time. Every person was called to recite a blessing during the Torah reading--an honor known as aliyah--and people offered reflections at the final kiddush lunch. The following day, congregants drove through the snowy cemetery grounds to the pit that held the last of their items. Their part-time rabbi, Howard Stein of Pitts- burgh, was not in attendance, as his own father had passed away the day before. I attended as part of my research into what congregations do with their material objects when they merge, downsize or shut down. A few weeks prior, Stein told me that his plan was to conduct the ceremony like a funeral. In his absence, the event was brief, ad hoc and raw. One man read a passage about the Cairo geniza, a famed storehouse of centu- ries of damaged Jewish texts and ritual objects. Another man spoke about honoring the word of God in the same Alanna E. Cooper A hole at the cemetery was lined with cardboard boxes containing yahrtzeit plaques, tallit prayer shawls and other ritual items from the once vibrant synagogues in New Castle that merged to form Hadar Israel. way that we honor a deceased person. The ground was too cold to shovel dirt. Instead, congre- gants took hold of a few final items--including the prayer books that had been used that happened here matters, and will continue to matter." As Lidji concluded, some- one in the huddled group spoke up. "Shall we say Kaddish?" this person asked, referring to the for Shabbat services the day Mourner's Prayer. before--and together tossed them into the hole. To close the ceremony, Eric Lidji, director of the Rauh Jewish History Program and Archives, offered a few words of reflection on the verse from Ecclesiastes: "There is a time for scattering stones and a time for gathering stones." Although Temple Hadar Israel has disbanded, Lidji explained, its stones have been gathered in the archives and here, too, in the cemetery. "These are big things that say 'we are here' and 'we be- long here,'" he said. The mark- ers convey that "everything Their prayer books were in the pit, but everyone seemed to know the words by heart. They recited the prayer to- gether, memorializing their shared past, their last act as a congregation. Final hugs were exchanged as the group dispersed with lowered heads. They returned to their cars, driving in a procession up the snowy hill and out of the cemetery. Alanna E. Cooper is direc- tor of Jewish Lifelong Learn- ing at Case Western Reserve University and an adjunct assistant professor in its Department of Anthropology. From page 1A director of Nefesh B'Nefesh. The nonprofit organization works with Israel's Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL) and JNF-USA to facili- tate Jewish immigration to Israel from the United States, Canada and Great Britain. Over the last year, there has been a rise in the num- ber of single, non-Orthodox young adults moving to Tel Aviv, Fass said. About 65 percent of Americans and Canadians immigrating to Israel as families consider themselves Orthodox, while approximately 60 percent of single olim are non-Ortho- dox, he noted. Most immigrants move to locales with strong English- speaking communities, such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Mo- diin, Beit Shemesh and Raa- nana. But a growing number are findinghomes eBewhere. In 2017, Nefesh B'Nefesh launched "Go Beyond," an initiative organized in part- nership with KKL to encour- age new immigrants to settle in Israel's less densely popu- lated northern and southern regions. Hundreds answered the call. All told, last year's 3,633 ar- rivals from North America-- ranging in age from 5 weeks to 102 years--included 377 families, 677 children, 358 Israeli soldiers, 54 doctors and 16 psychologists. Broken down by state and province, they came mostly in de- scending order) fron New York, California, New Jersey, Florida, Ontario, M~ryland and Quebec. Then there were those who, like Betsy and Michel Ilesseca of Albuquerque, New }4exico, hail from places not known for having large Jewish com- munities. Betsy, 72, is a fifth-gen- eration New Mexican whose German Jewish ancestors settled in the Southwest in the 1860s. Michel, 76, was born in Cairo, left Egypt in 1957 and moved to Prance. The couple met in Pars. Upon retirement, they m ed to Albuquerque. Then, in the waning days of 201', they picked up once m(~e and moved to Raanana. The year's last aliyah flight also included Aviya Johnson, a 40-year-old African-Amer- ican school nurse from Oak- land, California. A longtime member of Congregation B'nai Israel in nearby Vallejo, Johnson said she decided to make aliyah with her daugh- ter, Shmira, because "in America, there are so many things that hinder us as Jews, so many barriers wrapped around our daily lives." Johnson plans to live in Karmiel, a northern town. Among the other popular des- tinations in northern Israel in 2017 were Safed, Zichron Yaakov and Tiberias. The top choices for those settling in the south were Beersheba, Ashkelon, Eilat, Ofakim and Mitzpe Ramon. "We want to make sure individuals in the Diaspora know there are options and real opportunities in areas that they might not have explored," Fass said. He noted that smaller towns in northern and southern Israel are "far more af- fordable than Tel Aviv or Jerusalem." Since its founding in 2002, Nefesh B'Nefesh has brought nearly 55,000 peo- ple to Israel from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. December's most recent arrivals included Phyllis Zur and her Israeli-born husband, Nitzan, of West Orange, New Jersey. "I had a lifelong dream to become a citizen of Israel," Phyllis Zur said. "It's taken me until now, at age 72, to realize it." "I believe Israel is the insurance policy of the Jew- ish people," she added while waiting for her luggage. "I want to be an example to my grandchildren." This article was spon- sored by and produced in partnership with Nefesh B'Nefesh, which in coopera- tion with Israel's Ministry of Aliyah, The Jewish Agency, KKL and JNF-USA is mini- mizing the professional logistical and social obstacles of aliyah, and has brought over 50,000 olim from North America and the United King- dora in thepast lSyears. This article was produced by JTA 's native content team. Temple Israel From page 1A and directed the Cultural Arts program. Glaser performs for a wide array of audiences, from those in the Reform and Conserva- tive movements to the Modern Orthodox and Chassidim. He has performed at the top Jewish national conventions including General Assembly, Limmid, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Coalition for Advancement of Jewish Education, Cantors Assembly, URJ Biennial, Orthod(xUnion and Hadassah. Glaser is gifted in hs work with young people. Fe acted as director of the relowned Yad b'Yad Youth 3heater Troupe, music specialist at Camp Ramah, music drector for the JCC Macabee Games and as music director for the Brandeis Collegiate Institute. He also frequents religious school retreats, NFTY, USY and NCSY at collegiate Hillel Houses. Giaser lives in the Pico- Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles with his wife, Shira, and children, Max, Jesse, and Sarah. Central Florida is so privi- leged to see Glaser in concert this year, thanks in part to a grant from the Jewish Federa- tion of Greater Orlando. Visit or for ticket purchase information. Temple Israel is located at 50 South Moss Road, Winter Springs, Fla. 32708. From page 13A "UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the Palestin- ian refugee problem. It also perpetuates the narrative of the right-of-return, as itwere, in order to eliminate the State of Israel; therefore, UNRWA needs to pass from theworld," Netanyahu said on Sunday, after saying that he "agrees completely" with President Donald Trump's criticism of the agency. "This is an agency thatwas established 70 years ago, only for Palestinian refugees, at a time when the UNHCR deals with global refugee problems. Of course this creates a situa- tion in which there are great- grandchildren of refugees, who are not refugees but who are cared for by UNRVA, and another 70 years will Bss and those great-grandclildren will have great-grandcaildren and therefore, this atsurdity needs to stop," Netmyahu said. But Netanyahu noted that "genuine" Palestiniaa refu- gees still need assistance, and proposes that UNRWA funds from the United States should be "gradually shifted" to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which has "clear criteria for supporting genu- ine refugees, not fictitious refugees as happens today under UNRWA." Such an action would presumably minimize the damage to the humanitar- ian situation of Palestinians in Gaza, which could lead to more tension on Israel's border with the coastal strip. Most UNRWA assistance is distributed to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Israeli critics say that UNRWA in the Gaza Strip is not sufficiently vigilant about the uses of its facilities by Hamas and other terrorist groups. UNRWA has condemned Hamas for using its schools to stockpile rockets during the summer months, but Israel says that such discoveries often come after Palestinian civilians are placed in danger. Supporters of UNRWA say it spares Israel from respon- sibility for a humanitarian crisis that would be inevitable without it.