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

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PAGE 12 HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 17, Heritage far more Jewishly vibrant Cemetery." Ember's chil- girl."Askedifthat'slikely~ Li than Selma, where the dren have moved away to happen in Tupelo, Cop! () !: F ! C E () t! T E T Continued from page 7 shrinking congregation is larger Jewish communities hesitates. Buthiswife, Alig looking to raise $1 million in the South, as many par- quickly declares: "In ordC: By north."Anditcontinuesacross to repair Mishkan Israel's ents in the small-town South for him to. sustain his Je~ generations. Roger Kamenetz, leaky roof, patch and paint wish. ish identity, he'll probabi author of "The Jew and the stained sanctuary walls, and GeorgeCopin, a leader of have to move Then agai~ BE i["~nfr~l ]~|nr;t']~'e ][.~ro~t [ Lotus"andaprofessoratLoui- "return the building to pris- TemoPl~I B~nai Israel in Tu- if the institute can bri~ simrn ~,~,-,=M= ~=,L,=JUM - =,-~=~'~,~-- [ siana State University, sayshe tine condition, which Macy p ,i" says he,wantssufficient Jewish resour~ ingiShbao, Selection" of Office Furnltu" re [ knows people who met at requires to take over the his son Elliott, 15, to be to the Deep South quic~ Sa] Jacobs"as teens, married and building for a museum," happyandto marry a Jewish enough, he may not havet! shut I 70,000 square ft. showroom [ send their kids there.Ember says. life h 2300 South Oran 'e Avenue I Kamenetz's daughters attend Hart is helping to find ~' ] Jacobs and - keenly aware of funds, convinced that a 1o- ~ in Gel effort ! and f 407-316-0101 I theirminoritystatusasJews cal Jewish historical mu- Jews m South need resources p eat I in Baton Rouge - "find a lot of seum in the synagogue uejore,wur rmat ueclswn ] joy being with other Jewish "could play an important By Andrew Muchin Formerly MacysBetween Kaley and Michigan I kids in a concentrated group," role in Selmatourism-wise, SClnC hr : ~, . he says. history-wise and culture- JACKSON, Miss (JTA)--For Jewish life in the Deep i Jerus; ~:::~.:~ m . Yet Louisiana's capital is wise, andbringJewsandnon-South to overcome the twin plagues of attrition and i on Jal ~ ~ ~ J Jews to the table for d, ialogue assimilation, American Jewish culture must change, at-! tive about tikkun olam, or re- gues Macy Hart, executive director of the Goldring/I Unior : ~ ~ ------ ~ --- ~ pairing the world. Woldenberg Institute for Southern Jewish Life here. I ism, M CA leadel Mishkaqt Israel's sanctu- h Rabbinical se%inaries, large congregations and estab-! .~UR[C]~ LAWr I RE ary stretches up 50 feet to a "shedJew's co munities with rabbis and other Jewish l andtl dome that sits on an octago- professionals must 'think outside the box" and offer [ Unio] hal frame. A rare, 1920s-era resources to Jews with fewer opportunities, he says. [ Juden Skinner pipe organ is in- As he works to improve cultural, educational and religious ~ the ct Complete lawn and landscaping maintenance stalled above the carved offeringstoJewsinl2Southemstates, Hartisaskingnationalt tutior wooden ark. rabbinic leaders to be generous with their resources in the ~ has b~ Pressure cleaning of driveways and pool decks Quality work at affordable prices References available Service you can rely on! 407-312-8554 or 407-682-7251 email: mauricelawncare @ When the synagogue was built, there were 145 Jews in the city. The total dropped to 40 by 1975, when Ember came to town to run a cloth- ing store. Most congregants now are in their 70s and retired, Em- ber says. "The members are getting older and they know there aren't any young Jewish people mo.ving to Selma. There aren't any older Jewish people moving to Selma either," he says. "At one time, the whole down- town was Jewish merchants. 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Specifically, he urges: * The posting of newly ordained rabbis, not as assis- tants in large urban congregations but "in small clusters of congregations that we call geographic coalitions," Hart says. The novice rabbis would receive competitive salaries and reduce their student loans for each year served in a geographic coalition. Just as important, Hart contends, these rabbis '~ould touch Jewish life in a way a third or fourth assistant rabbi in a large congregation somewhere doesn't often get the opportunity to do." * Enlist senior rabbis and large congregations to stop hiring newly ordained rabbis as assistants. If more kids in outlying areas are exposed to rabbis, Hart contends, all JewS will benefit. "Invariably some kid is going to grow up and be a rabbi because he was exposed to one of these rabbis," he says. And when the rabbis do go to work at big-city congre- gations, they will come with experience, Hart adds. * Develop partnerships between large urban congrega- tions and smaller congregations in outlying areas, akin to the linkages between Diaspora and Israeli communities. "How hard would it be twice a year for a rabbi from a large congregation to go to two or three communities and be a Jewish presence?" Hart asks. Hart just might get a sympathetic ear for his partner- ship proposal. Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice presi- dent of the United Synagogue'of Conservative Judaism, calls such linkages, "a great idea." "Those kinds of things can be helpful. There have bee~ in our movement a number of congregations that have been helpful in that way and have said, 'We'll provide a rabbi to go visit some smaller congregations,' "Epstein says. "Some of them have let their assistant or associate do those kinds of things." As in the Reform movement, the Conservative seminaries "send rabbinic students in their last few years to visit some of these smaller congre- gations and provide help on a weekend basis - not only to lead services, but to work with religious schools on Sunday morning, to provide adult education on Saturday night," Epstein says. i But Epstein is less receptive to Hafts other proposals. | "I'm not certain that I would argue that the small[ " " OI' congregation is better training, he says. If the ment [ is right, it may be helpful for many rabbis to learn fror~ } someone who is a good mentor in a large congregation." [ Large congregations needs two full-time rabbis, he addS l Epstein's solution, then, is "to produce more rabbis. | Epstein's counterpart at the Reform movement's Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Rabbi Eric Yoffie; was not available for comment. Though Jews in the South, and in small communiti throughout North America, comprise less than a sixth the Jewish population, they deserve an infusion of corn munal resources, Hart says. "We say every Jewish life counts. We say, 'Klal Yisrael, or all Jews are a people, Hart says. "We're trying to people in Europe, Argentina, elsewhere in,the world. Whl wouldn'twe want to save Jews here? Hart s idea of Jewisl outreach is to "put some dollars back in the small corn munities," where many urban Jews were born and raised attended religious school and began their Jewish lives. "For us simple country folk," he says, "it's just corn" mon sense." Margo Baron Your Southwest Neighbor Office: (407) 948-8317 Fax: (407) 876-1873 margo @ vancerealty.corn ~1~~ ~,:/ 1743 Park Center Drive Orlando, FL 32835