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January 17, 2003     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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January 17, 2003

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DA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 17, 2003 PAGE 7 Jews Andrew Muchin Ala. (JTA)--The sanctuary of Temple itectural treasure that this historic town's street, is used only on .' High Holidays or for spe- J occasions. ily Reform con- Ily worships in room past the The services, conducted congregants, take place ev- two leaders, Ed Em- itors through the synagogue. title is last president ," he says with a referring to the per- lwho takes care of the syna- that more his statement somber than argue. were 167Jew- t communities in the South, of which had Jewish popu- a 100and 500 1997, that number had 141, with only 62 averaging be- 500 Jews. many of the century- that dot cities throughout the Israel is ~t all is not lost a demise. !Congregants pian to trans- ownership of the building, tjth its three romm n ~es oI~h . P " e t ~ es, two square turrets and ~urt~t: ~"~e c " " 8g entral dome, to the 4 7"~ldringAVoldenberg Insti- )~te for Southern Jewish Life, ancht~ed in Jackson, Miss. nonprofit institute two years ago from Museum of the Southern outside Utica, Miss. It preserve Southern as it provides cultural, educational religious opPortunities for ;across 12 states. institute's founding -'cutive director is Macy Charming and loqua- he proclaims his ideas Jewish immigrants from the French Alsatian region who, begin- ning 170 years ago, hiked through the Southern coun- tryside as peddlers. They even- tually established stores, raised families and built Jewish com- munities. Borrowing a bit from these ancestors, Hart says the institute's "highest priority right now is to create our itin- erant educator system." With the exception of a few larger cities such as Jackson, Miss Memphis, Montgomery, Ala and New Orleans, most South- ern Jewish congregations lack a rabbi or trained educator. Jewish education depends on the knowledge and availabil- ity of congregants. Hart is looking to hire an experienced educator and two younger educational fellows to introduce a common curricu- lum in 40 or 50 scattered places. The program is scheduled to begin next fall in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mis- sissippi. First his educators will present the curriculum, de- veloped in partnership with the Greater Chicago Founda- tion for Jewish Education, to a gathering of religious school teachers this summer. The material will include basic Jew- ish skills and concepts, con- centrating on pan-Jewish needs for Hebrew competence, love of Israel and the under- standing and practice of Jew- ish principles, Hart explains. "Mine is more of a desire to participate in a Jewish lifestyle," he says. "I want the Jewish community to quit fighting among itself" and de- velop a common curriculum, "like in the secular educational system." During the school year, the educator and fellows will travel to congregations two weekends per month to lead worship, read Torah, ad- vise teachers and teach chil- dren and adults. Ideally, 54 congregations will be covered in a nine-month school year. "At the end of the first year, you begin a climb. At the end of 10 years, you have Jewish literacy," Hart says. He hopes ultimately to hire four educators, each supervis- ing three to four fellows, to cover 12 Southern states. Hart also is looking to hire a rabbi, probably in 2003, to travel a circuit of synagogues to lead worship and provide educational and pastoral ser- vices. Many of the congrega- tions no longer are large enough to warrant a monthly visit by a student from one of the major rabbinical seminar- ies. Meanwhile, Hart and his staff are busy with other pro- gramming. For the past two autumns, the institute has sponsored a traveling festival of Jewish films that are screened at festivals in larger communities. Six communi- ties participated this fall, and Hart hopes to build to 25 com- munities within five years. Additionally, the institute sponsors concerts of Jewish music and visits by Jewish authors in the larger commu- nities. The institute also operates its predecessor organization, the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, located at the Henry S. Jacobs Camp outside Utica, Miss. Visitors from throughout the United States stop in to view tile per- manent exhibit on Alsatian Jewish immigration and settle- ment, examine Bill Aron's black-and-white photographs of Southern Jewry and view a dais that contains ritual ob- jects gathered from defunct Southern synagogues. The institute has set up a smaller museum at Temple B'nai Israel in Natchez, Miss and is looking to establish museums and cultural cen- ters in the synagogues it in- herits from other declining Jewish communities. The organization's resident histo- rian directs research, includ- ing oral history interviewing. Most of Hart's time is occu- pied with fund raising. He has secured more than $5 million of the $13.5 million in endow- ment money that the institute wants to operate the full range of its programs. Hart says he has secured an additional $1.5 million in op- erational funding to ensure By Michael Gamson A place to study online of the more exciting in Jewish tech- is the proliferation of for Jewish youth. can spend hours online games ,history, Although there le sites for rlech, per- of them Tots. veloped the concept of a song and dance troop featuring characters that represented Mitzvot. In 1996, Reuven was doing some graphic designworkwith Menachim Z. Shimanowitz and they decided to take the Sinai, a snuggly, bashful mountain with a southern drawl who gets in all kinds of trouble. The main focus of the site is, as the name implies, Torah. The Parsha on Parade section is aweekly Torah study for children. Each week the parshais lightly translated into a story format appropriate for young children. It is accom- panied by printable coloring sheets that relate to each parsha. There are also games and activities that provide learning opportunities for each parsha. More than 300 teachers worldwide print and distribute Torah Tots materi- als to students every week. Averaging between 85,000 and 115,000 hits a day, T'orah Tots Torah Tots concept to the is definitely the heavy weight World Wide Web. During the championofonlineTorahedu- first three years of develop- cation for kids. In the course ment, StoneandShimanowitz of my correspondence with Tots is everythingoften worked 60 hours aweek Menachem Shimanowitz, he a game site to a Torah on the project, with shared with me dozens of site to a teacher's cur- Shimanowitz financing the emailsfromteachersandfami- lo a I~oking agency entire endeavor. Soon the To- lies all over the world. Many of rots Live Road rah Tots cast had their own these emails came from iso- Torah Tots is home in Cyberspace. lated areas where students for its web The site includes such char- might otherwise not have ac- lly began as acters as Shamor and Zachor cess to Jewish resources. show. theShabbatcandletwins, Simi In addition to the Parsha A. Stone de- the siddur, and Hardy Har on Parade section, there are institute staffingand program- ming for at least the next three years. If the museum and insti- tute were all that Hart, a Winona, Miss native, had done for his people, dayenu. But he also is the founder and former director of the Jacobs camp, the othe r acknowledged community builder for Jews in the Deep South. The camp, which sprawls around an artificial lake out- side Utica, began in part to serve small-town Southern Jewish kids like Jonathan Cohen, a Tupelo, Miss native who succeeded Hart as camp director in 2000. Twenty-five years ago, 'Syou could look to 20-25 percent of the campers as small-town kids," Cohen says. "These days, the campers are more likely to be from Memphis, New Orleans and other Deep South cities, but that's not because the camp has lost the small-town kids. The kids don't live there any- More." The camp's 400 par- ticipants each summer come primarily from Alabama, Ar- kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and western Tennessee, ac- cording to Cohen. Rabbi Bob Loewi of the 500- family Congregation Gates of Prayer in Metairie, La says 40 children from his congrega- tion attended the camp last summer. The congregation provides +scholarships to Jacobs be- cause, hesays, the camp "pro- motes continuity, Jewish iden- tity and learning," Loewi says. "It think it's pivotal. I've al- ways been a believer in camp. It provides kids with certain skills and" the lesson "of what it means to be part of an entire Jewish community." Jared Saks, a New Jersey native and rabbinic student who worked at Jacobs last summer, lauds the campers' devotion to Ju- daism. "I think to them Judaism is more important because it's not at their fingertips" at home, he says. "Going to Jacobs is more important here than anything Jewish is in the See "Heritage" on page 12 many other fun and educa- tional activities at the site including: Hebrew learning, Jewish holidays, songs, midrash, and a Jewish calen- dar. All of the sections are done in colorful, kid friendly graphics. There are also spe- cial features that change regularly. On a recent trip to Torah Tots, 1 found a feature on Ilan Ramon, the first Is- raeli astronaut. I found an- other page featuring pictures of historic synagogues of the world. All of this content is available at for free. For users who want even more content, there is also a CD-ROM that features more interactive fun. The Torah is a tree of life for all who hold fast to it. Parents and children can begin this journey together online at Torah Tots. Michael Gamson is the tech- nology coordinator for The Hillel School and the religious school director for Congrega- tion Beth Am, both in Tampa, Fla. He welcomes your com- ments, suggestions and ques- tions, e-mail mgamson@ hillelschoolcom. Central Florida Synagogue Service Schedule and Directory Celebration Jewish Congregation (Rec), Navigator School, 607 Celebration Avenue, Celebration, 407-596-5397, 7 p.m. first and third Fridays each month. Congregation Ahavas Yisrael/Chabad (O), 708 Lake Howell Rd Maitland, 407-644-2500; Family Service 4th Friday of the month. Congregation Bet Chaim (R), 1033 Semoran Blvd Suite 151, Casselberry, 407-830-7211; Shabbat service, 8 p.m. Congregation Beth Am (C), 3899 Sand Lake Road, Longwood, 407-862- 3505; Shabbat service, 8:15 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m Junior Cong 10:45 a.m. Congregation Beth Emeth (R), 1016 Yorkshire Ridge Ct Orlando, 407-855- 0772; Services once a month, 8 p.m. Congregation Beth Shalom (C), 315 North 13th St Leesburg, 352-315-0770 Congregation B'nai HaShem, An internet synagogue. 407-767-7502. Congregation B'nai Torah (C), 445 S. Nova Rd Ormond Beach, 32174, 386-672-1174; Services Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. Congregation Chabad (O), 1301 S. Patrick Dr. #62, Satellite Beach, 321-777- 2770. Congregation Chabad Lubavitch of Greater Daytona (0), 1079 W. Granada Blvd Ormond Beach, 386-672-9300; Shabbat services Fri. 7:30 p.m Sat. I0 a.m. Congregation of Liberal Judaism (R), 928 Malone Dr Orlando, 407-645- 0444; Shabbat service, 8 p.m.; except 1st Friday, Family services begin 7 p.m. Saturday: 10 a.m. Congregation Mateh Chaim (R), P.O. Box 060847, Palm Bay, 32906, 321- 768-6722. Congregation Ohev Shalom (C), 5015 Goddard Ave Orlando, 407-298- 4650; Shabbat service, 8:15 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m.; Junior Cong 10:15 a.m. Congregation Shalom Aleichem (R), 3501 Oak Pointe Blvd Kissimmee, 407-935-0064; Shabbat service, 8 p.m 1st and 3rd Fridays of the month. Congregation Shalom, Williamsburg(R), P.O. Box 691081, Orlando, 32869: Friday night services once a month at 7:30 p.m. at the Rosen Centre, 9840 International Drive, Orlando. 407-238-7943. Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation/Ohalei Rivka (C), 11200 S. Apopka-Vineland Rd Orlando, 407-239-5444; Shabbat service, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday: 9:30 a.m. Temple Beth El (R), 579 N. Nova Rd Ormond Beach, 386-677-2484. Temple Beth Shalom (R), P.O. Box 0313, Winter Haven, 813-324-2882. Temple Beth Shalom (C), 40 Wellington Drive, Palm Coast, 386445-3006; Shabbat service, 8 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. Temple Beth Sholom (C), 5995 N. Wickham Rd. Melbourne, 321-254-6333. Temple B'nai Darom (R), 49 Banyan Course, Ocala, 352-624-0380; Friday Services 8 p.m. Temple Israel (C), 407-647-3055; Shabbat service; 6:15 p.m.; Saturday: 9:30 a.m. Temple Israel (R), 7350 Lake Andrew Drive, Melbourne, 321-631-9494. Temple Israel (C), 1400 S. Peninsula Ave Daytona Beach, 904-252-3097; Shabbat service, 8 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. Temple Israel (C), 1001 E. New York Ave DeLand, 386-736-1646; Shabbat service, 7:30 p.m. Temple Shalom of Deltona (R/C), 1785 Elkcam Blvd Deltona, 904-789- 2202; Shabbat service, 10 a.m. Saturday. Temple Shir Shalom of Oviedo (R); Shabbat service, 7:30 p.m. Ist Friday of the month at Oviedo Women's Club, 414 King Street. lnf0:407-977-5172 or 407-366-8399. 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