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February 15, 2013     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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February 15, 2013
 

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PAGE 8A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 15, 201,3 St. Johns County recognizes Levy's role in free public education St. Johns County Com- missioner Cyndi Stevenson was charged with reading the motion of the Board pro- claiming "St. Johns County Jewish History Month," but she could not finish without stopping to express heartfelt gratitude for the role played by Jews in 1831. That was when St. Augustine's Moses Elias Levy led the move- ment to establish free public education in the nation's oldest city, a model to be followed throughout the United States. In the midst of nearly a dozen paragraphs, each beginning with a "whereas," Stevenson read: "Whereas, beginning in January 1831, Moses Elias Levy, a Sephardic Jew born in Morocco served as a founding vice-president of the Florida Educational Society to promote the edu- cational welfare and establish a general system of instruc- tion including at the society's Chilly success most significant St. Augus- education is the foundation tine Branch, bringing, by December 1831, 569 St. Johns County residents under the age of 15 into a system of free public education." At this point, Stevenson, a Certified Public Accoun- tant who, until recently, served as comptroller for the Children's Home Soci- ety of Florida, stopped to express gratitude to the St. Augustine Jewish Histori- cal Society, sponsors of the proclamation, for reminding the community that public of modern democracy and for reminding all St. Johns citizens of the role of Jews in establishing what has become a highly rated and well-regarded system of public schools. Levy, although much trav- elled, lived for nearly 40 years in St. Augustine and is but one of the reasons the St. Augustine Jewish Histori- cal Society labors to revive the Jewish history of North America's oldest European city. Inside the St. Johns County Commission chambers, from left: commissioner Cyndi Stevenson, commissioner Bill Mc- Clure, SAJHS member Rabbi Merrill Shapiro, SAJHS member Moises Sztylerman, SAJHS member Esta Lindenfeld, SAJHS member Carl Lindenfeld, commissioner Rachel L. Bennett, commissioner Jay Morris commissioner Ronald F. Sanchez. Samantha Cohen performs n the Theatre South's "Little Shop of Horrors" preview. Jeff Imber competes in the pie-eating contesL Former Heritage associate editor completes family history After 13 years ofresearchand writing her family history book, -"La dor v'dor From Generation to Generation," Edith Lefkovits Schulman, a former associate edidtor at the Heritage Florida Jewish News, is finally fin-- ished  though not complete. There are endless ways to write a history of your fam- ily, Schulman explained. She chose to tell the story of her foul grandparents, and in do- ing so, related the stories of her ancestors and the relatives who came after them, why and when they came to America, why they chose to leave the known for an unknown life ahead. So much courage our ancestors had! Today many genealogists choose to get most of their information from the Internet. Schulman, on the other hand, found the most excitingwaywas to go to a cemetery, synagogue archives, courthouse, Metro Archives, the Nashville Public Library, which kept the morgue of the Nashville newspapers, and the place where school records were kept. Imagine that Schulman could look at her father's school records 90 years afthr he went to school. And, finally, she went to the Tennessee State Library and Archives and to dig out the census and immigration re- cords she wanted to find. "I was lucky," said Schulman, "a great deal of the information that I wanted was in the repositories Edith Schulman with will and determination." Along the way, Schulman found many interesting bits of information. For instance, she found from records that three genei'ations of her family had been married from the same temple: Charles and Edith Schulman, her parents Sylvan Lefkovits and Janet Solomon, and her grandparents, Ike Lefkovits and Augustus Biss- inger. . In June 2003, the Schulmans took two of their grandsons to Nashville, to show them where their grandparents had grown up. "We visited the cemetery. Not much fun for kids, usu- ally, but before we left Florida, I made each boy a family tree with birthand death dates on it. At the cemetery, I showed the boys about where they might find their ancestors, gave them stones and set them loose. What a wonderful adventure they had," reported Schulman. "They even caught me in an error." High on her list was to show the boys the house where their grandmother had grown up. Fortunately,.the house had been bought by a lovely2?bung couple. The owner invited them in to look around. Schulman hap- pened' to mention that she was trying to write her family's his- tory, but had no early pictures or records. The owner mentioned they planned to add on to the house that summer. As people will do, they exchanged phone numbers and email addresses. Two month later, the owner of Schulman's old house called her. She saidwhen the cQntrac- tor tore down the back wall he found a hidden dresser in the wall full of pictures, letters, scrapbooks and all kind of records. The name on them was something like "Lefwich." "They're mine," Schulman told her. Her first impulse was to jump in the car and drive through the night to Nashville, but cooler heads prevai!ed. The house owner mailed "the stuff' to Schulman--27 pounds in all. Wonderful things were in the package, Schulman said. Now Schulman had early pic- tures, letters (some unopened for 60 years or more), and records to fill in gaps about her family. Her project could move forward. She included with each family (there are fore') a family tree, a detailed index, pictures, description of the family and from where they came in Eu- rope, chapter notes and a time line. One ofthemost important items included was a chart on causes of death, when known. This is so important for the generations that: follow. Gen- erations, are distinguished by numbered subscripts. Thirteen years after Schul- man began this project, she put down her pen. The his- tory, pictures and documents are left for her children and grandchildren, with the hope that someday, they may want to add even more to the book. CRJ Passover festival answers more than just 4 questions Mason Moses sleds down the snow mountain. On Jan. 27, the Jewish Community Center's Jack & Lee Rosen Southwest Orlando Campus hosted its 4th Annual Winter Festival, featuringwintery activities and snowy delights. in Nashville, Tenn., where two of my grandparents were born." Schulman did use her com- puter for some help. "I never realized the number of ss there were online to aid the genealogist--some free, some not free. It's there, to be found Taglit-Birthright Israel opens Summer 2013 trip registration JERUSALEM- Taglit-Birthright Israel, the organization responsible for sending over 330,000,000 young Jewish adults on a free lO-day trip to Israel to learn about their heritage, will open summer 2013 trip registration on Wednesday, Feb.13, 10 a.m. To register, visit www.BirthrightIsrael.com The non-profit group is currently celebrating its 13th anniversary year. Taglito Birthright Israel has become a "rite of passage" for Jewish adults between the ages of 18 to 26. The trip aims to strengthen each participant's Jewish identity; to build an understanding, friendship and lasting bond with the land and people of Israel; and to reinforce the solidarity of the Jewish people worldwide. TaglitoBirthrightIsrael has sent Jewish young adults to Israel from more than 62 countries, from all 50 U.S. states, including students from nearly 1,000 North American college campuses. Attendees are immersed in an active educational expe- rience that includes visits to Jewish historical sites, history museums, Holocaust remembrance sites, the Western Wall, arts and culture programs as well as, touring, hiking, discusMons, social events, camel andjeep rides in the desert and more. The trip focuses on three main areas: the narratives of the Jewish people, contemporary Israel, and the formative values of Judaism. Tagh't-Birthright Israel is a partnership between the Government of Israel, private philanthropists and Jewish communities around the world including the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Agency for Israel and Keren Hayesod. For additional questions on registration for summer2013 trips, please call the Taglito Birthright Israel Hotline at 1-888-994-7723. By Jill Cousins special to The Heritage Most Jews know about the Four Questions that are central to the celebration of Passover. But many of us have much more than four questions when it comes to' understanding the Passover story .and all of its traditions. What do I serve for dinner? How do I make a seder plate? Which haggadot should I use? How do I make matzah balls? If you have absolutely any questions regarding Passover, the Congregation of Reform Judaism has the answers! CRJ will be hosting its first "A to Z Passover Festival" from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, March 17. The family-friendly event, which is free and open to the Central Florida community, will take place in CRJ's social hall and will include a Q&A table with Rabbi Steven Engel, Passover food and wine samples, and activities for children, includ- ing st)rytelling and crafts. "Passover is the holiday that more Jews participate in than any other Jewish holiday, Jessica Nolte will learn about Passover at the A to Z Passover Festival at the Congregation of Reform Judaism. whether or not they do it in the traditional fashion--not niissing a word--or they have made their own customs," event chairwoman Norma Ball said. "This event is an op- portunity for you" to observe, participate and enrich your Passover holiday." This year Passover begins on the even'ing of March 25 and runs through April 2. The A to Z festival is based on an award-winning event that was held at Congregation Beth Yam in Hilton Head, S.C. The idea of that event, as well as the one at CRJ, was primarily to attract interfaith families, as well as affiliated and tmaffiliated families with young children. The festival is also aimed at Jews who grew up !n non-observant families and could benefit from a crash course in Passover 101. "Every aspect of Passover will be addressed and will be addressed in different ways," Ball said. For adults, offerings at the festival wilt include food and Kosherwine tastings, cooking demonstrations, a seder plate exhibit, a variety of Haggadot, and Passover books and Ju- daica for sale. There will also be a horseradish-eating contest. For kids of all ages, the festival will feature story tell- ing, a chocolate seder, matzah making and a variety of crafts. "This is an opportunity to learn how to tailor your Seder to the needs of your family, the ages ofyour kids and their attention spans," Ball said. To be eligible for a raffle .to win a beautiful glass seder plate, register for the event at bit.ly/passoverfest. Call CRJ at 407-645-0444 for more information.