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August 24, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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August 24, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 24, 2012 PAGE 11A By Hillel Kuttler BALTIMORE (JTA)-- Rina Elchai's first love was Aryeh "Leon" Sevilla. The two met in the early 1950s at the Youth Aliyah village of Kiryat Yearim, then dated as students at- tending the Ben-Shemen agricultural boarding school in central Israel. The couple took walks on the school grounds. Aryeh sometimes rode his bicycle to visit Rina, whose maiden name was Arazi, at her parents' home in Tel Aviv. He would summarize the plot of "War and Peace" as she embroidered. Elchai remembers the first ice pop that Sevilla bought her. The silver necklace he presented is worn today by her niece, Esther Arazi. Elchai, now a 74-year- old mother of three and grandmother of 12, re- cently wondered where Aryeh is and how he is faring. Arazi offered to help look for him. "I'd like to speak with him, reconnect and hear what life has been like for him," Elchai said. "We went out for three years I'd like to close a circle." On Aug. 15, Seeking Kin found Sevilla. The retired art dealer and appraiser was reached at the apart- ment in Athens, Greece, overlooking the Mediter- ranean Sea where he and his wife of 37 years, Stella, now live. Sevilla, 77, said he would be happy to hear from his old girlfriend. "It could be interesting. It could be fun," he said of the chance to reconnect. In Athens, Sevilla has returned to his roots. He was born in his mother's homeland, Austria, and lived from ages 2 to 10 in his father's native Greece. The family moved to Israel in 1945. Elchai and her husband, Moshe, are farmers who have lived their entire married lives, 54 years, on Moshav Beit Halevi, in the Hefer Valley near Netanya. They raise flowers for ex- port to the Netherlands. For years they had a barn and planted orchards of oranges, clementines and grapefruit. "I love the life of the moshav: the people, the quiet and the solitude," Elchai said. "I can't stand the city." Her preference for the outdoors first drew Elchai to Kiryat Yearim and Ben- Shemen. She had enjoyed living as a girl on Kibbutz Kfar Hamaccabi, near Haifa, after the family reached Israel from Beirut, Lebanon. Seviila, following his graduation from Ben-Sh- emen, served in the Israeli Navy, then attended Jeru- salem's Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. In 1956 he left Israel to continue his studies in Austria and Germany, graduating from Munich's Academy of Fine Arts. For 45 years he lived on Manhattan's Upper East Side, where he had a studio. He and Stella, who do not have children, later retired to Clearwater, Fla and continue to spend part of each year there. Elchai retains much of Sevilla's correspondence, which her niece described as stylized and poetic-- "letters that people don't write anymore," Arazi said. In one letter, he asked Elchai to join him abroad, but her father refused to let her go. Elchai last heard from Sevilla in a postcard sent in 1962 from Minneapolis, where his parents, brother and sister had resettled. Se- villa designed the postcard himself. In it, he extended Rosh Hashanah greetings. In a bid to find Sevilla, Arazi spoke with residents of Moshav Neveh Yemin, near Kfar Sava. The Sevilla family had lived on the moshav when the couple knew one another. Arazi also was interviewed on Israel's "Hamador L'chipus Krovim" (Searching for Relatives Bureau) radio program. One listener pro- vided phone numbers and email addresses for Sevilla Courtesy Rina Elchai Rina Elchai, shown here in 1958, hopes to ,'close a circle" and reconnect with Aryeh ~Leon~ Sevilla, shown here in 1957 with a note he wrote in Hebrew reading "To the beloved RiM.~ that he had found online, but the information was outdated. Seeking Kin ultimately found Sevilla through a Connecticut art dealer who knows Sevilla and forwarded a message to him. Elchai also has a cre- ative side. She knits and embroiders, and paints on silk, fabrics and walls. Arazi remembers that her aunt designed colorful Purim costumes for the latter's children--a Moses outfit s'ands out. The El- chais' home is decorated with Rina's paintings of landscapes, animals, flow- ers and children--"and she does it all from her head, without looking at a photograph first," her niece said. "It comes from within her soul." Searching for Sevilla was a labor of love for Arazi--the least she said she could do for the woman who took her in at age 3 after the young child's mother died in a car ac- cident abroad. "My whole life, she raised me," Arazi said. "I always try to do things for her." lf you would like Seeking Kin to write :about your search for long-lost relatives and friends, please send a brief email to Hillel Kut- tier at Seeking Kin is sponsored by Bryna Shuchat and Joshua Landes and family in loving memory of their mother and grandmother, Miriam Shuchat, a lifelong uniter of the Jewish people. CONGREGATION CONNECTING, DISCOVERING, AND CELEBRATING }UDAISM IN CENTRAL FLORIDA SINCE 1918 5773 2012 High Holy Day Service Schedule Senior Rabbi: Aaron D. Rubinger Assistant Rabbi: David Kay Rabbi Emeritus: Dr. Rudolph J. Adler Cantor: Allan Robuck Director of Youth and Family Education: Amy Geboff President: Richard L. Cohen Executive Director: Philip Wolgel Sunday Monday Tuesday Rosh Hashanah 5773 September 16, 2012 September 17, 2012 September 18, 2012 8:00 pm acket required 8:45 am tieketrequired 7: 30 pm open to community 8:45 am open to community Alternative Services Roth JCC--851 N. Maitland Ave Maitland 32751 Monday September 17, 2012 10:30 am ticket required Preschool Family Service--COS School Wing Tuesday September 18, 2012 9:30 am open to community Tuesday Family Service--COS Chapel September 18, 2012 10:30 am open to community OFFICE: 407-298-4650 613 CONCOURSE PARKWAY SOUTH, MAITLAND 3275 I VVVVVV.OH EVSHALOM.ORG Tuesday Wednesday Yom Kippur 5773 September 25, 2012 Mincha Kol Nidre 7:00 pm ticket required 7:15 pm ticket required September 26, 20128:45 am *Yizkor 1:30 pm open to community Mincha 5:45 pm open to community *Ne'ilah 6:45 pm open to communi *Ma'Ariv & Shofar Blowing after Ne'ilah (open to community) Alternative Service - Roth Jewish Community Center 851 N. Maitland Ave Maitland 32751 Wednesday, September 26, 2011 *Yizkor *approximate starting times 10:30 am ticket required 12:00 pm open to community College students and military personal are guests of Congregation Ohev Shalom at all services Proper 119 is required SPECIAL CHILDREN'S PROGRAMMING please call for more information Follow us on Facebook facebook