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January 13, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 13, 2012 PAGE 13A Ironically, Jewish prayer often stands between.Jews and the meaningful practice of their Judaism. The connec- tion to the ancient liturgy and language can be hard to find for the modern Jew. The Adult Yeshiva Program, sponsored by Congregation Ohev Shalom and made pos- sible through the generosity of Arnie and Barbara Sager and The Sager Fund. is set- ting out to change all that in 2012. The overarching theme for the 2012 Adult Yeshiva is "100 Blessings: The Meaning and Practice of Jewish Prayer," and classes are open to the community at no charge. "We strive to create op- portunities for serious adult learning which broadens and deepens not only Jewish knowledge, but the experience of being a Jew," says Rabbi David Kay, Ohev Shalom's assistant rabbi and one of~ the teachers for the winter session. "Prayer is essential to Judaism, yet it can often create the biggest barrier." The fundamentals of Jewish prayer begin with the Torah. and the basic structure of the service we know today took shape some 2.000 years ago. "Jewish prayer transcends both space and time." Kay observes. "When Jews gather to pray, we know that Jewish communities around the world are doing the same. and that we're doing what Jews have done formillenniabefore us - and, hopefully, will be doing for millennia to come." ThewintersessionoftheAdult Yeshiva began the week of Janu- ary 8, but learners are velcome to join the classes in progress. On Monday evenings at 7 p.m., Rabbi Sharon Barr Skolnik" will be teaching '"Bless You!' - Finding Meaning in B'rakhot ThrOugh Torah and Today." On Wednesdays at 7 p.m.. Rabbi Kay will be teaching"T'filah for Real - Understanding Jewish Prayer from the Inside." For more information on the Adult Yeshiva Program or to register for classes, contact Susan Sparrow at 407-298-4650 or ClergyAsst@, or visit the Ohev Shalom website at www. Rabbi David Kay Rabbi Sharon Barr Skolnik The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Orlando presents globally known and highly regarded expert. Nolan Altman. as Speaker of the Month. He will discuss "Jew- ishGen's JOWBR Project -The Genealogical Value of Jewish Cemetery Records '. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 from 7-9 p.m. At the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation, Social Hall, 11200 South Apopka Vineland Road, Orlando. It is free and open to the public. Jewish headstone inscrip- tions and burial records can provide crucial information to genealogists. Hebrew name inscriptions, based on patronymics, can link together two generations Nolan Altman of Hebrew names unlike any other source docu- ment. This can be especially helpful when trying to link first generation American ancestors to their European families. Altman, JewishGen's vice president for data acquisition and coordinator for their Jew- ishGen's Online Worldwide Burial Registry and Memorial Plaque databases, will explain the importance of Jewish cemetery records. THrough photographic examples and case studies, you will see what information and symbols are found on stones and how the information can help to create your family tree. Altmar~ was bit by the "genealogy bug" when he was inspired to write his family history in 1996 in memory of his mother. After making use of the valuable infor- mation on JewishGen, he volunteered to do data entry N on various projects. In time. he was become the coordinator for JewishGen's Holocaust Database and sub- sequently the coordinator for the JOWBR project. Altman works with volunteers from around the world helping to grow both databases for the benefit of family members and researchers. Altman's current focus is on growing the JOWBR and Holocaust databases. Altman has made various presentations and conducted computer workshops at the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societ- ies annual conferences in Washington, D.C., New York City, ChicagO, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. He con- tinues to present his "How to Document and Research Your Family History" semi- nar to adult and continuing education classes as well as university Holocaust and European history classes. He has published articles in Avo- taynu. Dorot, Stammbaum. Shemot and the FEEFHS Journal. He is on the board of the IAJGS and is the president of the JGS of Long Island, where he coordinates their Yearbook. Cemetery, and Memorial Plaque Projects. No'lan is also a member of the JGS of New York. This will be the JGSGO's first evening meeting at the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation. "New location, new time. great program! Nolan Altman is the expert in his field and this information can help you 'cross the pond' and more," says a member of JGSGO. Altman will present to the group from New York live via Skype. If you ever thought about starting on your family history research journey, this is the meeting for you. The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Orlando is a not for profit organiza- tion dedicated to sharing genealogical information. techniques and research tools with anyone interested in Jewish genealogy and family history. There is no charge to attend the meeting. Anyone may join JGSGO. Annual dues are $25 for an individual and $30 for a family. For more information visit www.jgsgo. By Steve Lipman New York Jewish News On most nights, Wolf and Deer. a trendy new wine bar owned by a pair of Sabras in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood, attracts a fashionable crowd sipping an international selection of wines and beers. On one recent night, the cuisine was strictly ko- sher some wines, latkes, doughnuts. At the Chanukah party sponsored by a new Mod- ern Orthodox synagogue, several dozen Jewish resi- dents of the area--ranging from college students to retirees celebrated the Festival of Lights with a menorah lighting, social- izing and words of Torah by RabbiAaron Finkelstein, the founding spiritual leader of the Prospect Heights Shui. A native of Berkeley, calif., Finkelstein was or- dained in June by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. The party was the latest and one of the biggest--ac- tivities of the fledgling con- gregation, which marked its six-month anniversary last week at a community meeting. The shul serves a growing number of Modern Orthodox Jews in Prospect Heights and adjacent Park Slope, and sometimes draws people from nearby Brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods like Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill. It is. says Finkelstein. the only Modern Orthodox syna- gogue between Flatbush and the Lower East Side. The area, usually thought of as a mecca of liberal Jewry as well as a place where ten- sions can run high when it comes to the sale of Sabra hummus at the local food co-op, has in recent years quietly become home to a growing number of young Orthodox Jews, many es- caping the high rents of Manhattan, according to the rabbi. "People want a shul where they feel comfortable," he rabbi says. "It's a little like an out-of-town commu- nity," where everyone knows everyone, and invites one another for Shabbat meals. So far. it's a shul without a permanent site. A search is under way for an appropri- ate. centrally located space to rent, probably a storefront on a major avenue; until then. Carlebach-style Friday evening worship services take place in the common rooms of members' apart- ment buildings; the loca- tion is posted weekly on the shurs Facebook page. Saturday morning services, which will make use of a Torah-scroll owned by one member family, will begin when the permanent site opens. Crowded High Holy Days services were held in the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Once the shul moves into its own venue, it will make BFooklyn a pitch to attract'more realms,"join activitieswith Jewish population in Park members from other, pricier non-OrthodOx congrega-Slope and Prospect Heights, parts of the city, and make tions and the recitation of thoughtitmightbe"anatu- "The Slop ," as residents call the blessing for the State ralfitforaModernOrthodox thearea, ModernOrthodox of Israel on Shabbat ac- community," and arranged neighborhood of choice, tions so-called right-wing some exploratory meetings Think Upper West Side synagogues often frown on. South many of the young "People happy to Orthodox residents of Park have other 9ptions," says Slol e and Prospects Heights Israel-born Eli Basher, who Come from the Upper West attends worship services at Side of Manhattan. the Prospect Heights Shul. The Brownstone Brook- lyn area, whose overall Caucasian population has increased in recent decades, was some 11.000 Jewish households--prob- ably representing a total Jewish population of at least 25.000 according to a 2002 survey by UJA- Federation. The count may be higher today. The area boasts several non-Orthodox congrega- tions and other Jewish institutions, as well as a few Chabad Houses. There are also a few established Orthodox synagogues there; largely led by Chabad rabbis, they are, according to mem- bers of the Prospect Heights Shul. de facto Chabad in other words, not Modern Orthodox--congregations. At a recent Shabbat lunch hosted by Finkelstein, a tableful of shul members shared their vision of a congregation that fits their spiritual needs: an institu- tion that follows Jewish law but is open to social action, expanded women's roles in the leadership of the shul "beyond the ritual Such a new Orthodox congregation in an urban setting is "a phenomenon usually associated with sub- urban locales" where Ortho- dox congregations typically follow the establishment of non-Orthodox ones, says Jeffrey Gurock, professor of American Jewish history at Yeshiva University. The area has numerous vibrant Reform and Con- servative congregations, including ( ongregation Beth Elohim and the Park Slope Jewish Center. The regulars at the Pros- pect Heights Shul's Friday evening services--some 40- 50 show up eachweek--are a cross-section, Finkelstein says, of veteran residents of the areawho have lived there for decades, and younger people, in their 20s and 30s, who have moved there in recent years, attracted by lower-than-Manhattan rents. It's largely a hip, artsy crowd. The rabbi, who spent four years studying at Chovevei Torah. the "open" rabbinical school based in Riverdale. heard about the growing last spring in residents' apartments. He expected 10 or 15 people at the first meeting. "Thirty-five people came." And the same num- ber came to subsequent meetings. Finkelstein decided the area about two square miles of private homes along the side streets and boutiques and morn-and- pop stores along the main streets--was fertile ground for a new synagogue. His hiring is "a sign that people are becoming more informed and excited about the mission of YCT and the caliber of rabbis we are training," says Rabbi Dov Linzer. the yeshiva's dean. The Prospect Heights Shul is not affiliated with any Orthodox organiza- tion, but is investigating becoming an Orthodox salary and high range of responsibilities "because I wanted to be doing work that's connected to creating community." The rabbi, says Moshe Weidenfeld, a member of the shul's steering commit- tee, was quickly accepted because he is ".leadership... representative of us." "It's a perfect match" of rabbi and community, says Rebecca Basher, another steering committee mem- ber. "He makes you think. He really appeals to our young, educated congre- gants." For some Orthodox Jews, Park Slope and Prospect Heights are admittedly a tough sell. Kosher restau- rants, groceries and Judaica shops are a few subway stops or a 10-minute car ride away. "It's a great place"---with general quality-of-life at- tractions like a nearby park and museums, safe streets and quality housing stock, quick commuting to Man- hattan "if you don't need Union-member congrega- all the 'Jewish things'" close tion, Finkelstein says. There are no dues yet; High Holy Days tickets and seed money from members and outside supporters pay the congregation's modest expenses, including the rabbi's salary. "I looked at a bunch of jobs." mostly assistant rabbi positions in other cities. Finkelstein. 28. says. "I chose this job.., a start-up shul"- with its low initial by, says Shanee Epstein, who has lived there more than two decades. "It's definitely not conve- nient." Rebecca Basher says. "You need to be involved to make things happen." Steve Lipman is a staff writer for The New York Jewish News, from which this article was reprintcd by permission. You can email him at steve@jewishweek. org.