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September 11, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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September 11, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 PAGE 19A By Emily Savage dous diversity from country a professor of architecture at But "here I am [almost] j. the Jewish weekly to country, synagogue to Southern Polytechnic State 20 years later, [still] paint- of Northern California synagogue." University in Marietta, Ga. ing these synagogues. It has Waronker's diverse wa- His synagoguequestbeganin become apart of my life that SAN FRANCISCO--Ar- tercolor paintings will be 1991,whenhevisitedIndiain I never expected, and that's chitectural historian Jay A. exhibited through Jan. 10 at search of Jewish structures, thelesson--you never know Waronker has spent the past Congregation Emanu-E1 in backed by grants from the what can happen when you five years painting detailed San Francisco. Asian Cultural Council, the start a project." watercolor reproductions of Waronker, who has also RockefellerBrotherFundand During his two years on synagogues in sub-Saharan done paintings ofsynagogues th~ MemorialFoundation for the task, Waronker has had Africa. in India, says oneofhis major Jewish Culture. many eye-opening experi- The synagogues are sprin- aims is to preserve Jewish In 2005, he was awardedences--for better or worse. kled throughout Zimbabwe, history, especially in areas a Fulbright grant to study There was the time was in- South Africa, Mozambique where local Jewish culture andpaintsynagoguesinsub- terrogated for hours by police and Ethiopia, among other is disappearing. Saharan Africa--and off he in a small town in Zimbabwe. countries. While some are "I'm documentingexisting went, digital camera in hand Then there are other expe- stillinusebyJews, manynow synagogues in areas of the (he takes photographs of the riences that make it all seem serve as churches, beauty world whereJewishcommu-synagogues, then paints his worthwhile--like the time salons and auto repair shops, nities once thrived and have watercolor reproductions a fellow Jew picked him up And while some are grand, today become quite small when he returns home tofrom an airport in Zambia, ornate buildings, others are for any number of reasons, Georgia). He's since been back spent the entire day showing simple mud huts surrounded political or social," he says, to the region, and plans to him around local synagogues by lush greenery. His other interest in the visit again in the near future, and fed him a hearty lunch. "Most people are inclined buildings comes from his Recalling his first trip to He also has been invited to to look at Africa as this background in architecture. India18 years ago, Waronker numerous Shabbat dinners. homogenous place," saysWaronkerhasworkedasan says he thought documenting Waronkerdescribeshimself Waronker, an architect in architect in both Georgiaand synagogues"would be a one- asanobservantandactiveJew, Atlanta, "but there is tremen- New York and has taught as time experience." though not highly religious. Courtesy ofj. the Jewish weekly of Northern California Jay A. Waronker's painting of the Maputo Hebrew Con- gregation. "Being Jewish is very im- 10 at Congregation Emanu- portant to me," he explains. El, 2 Lake St., San Francisco, "I've connected so muchCalif. For details, visit http:// more to my religion by study- ing its architecture." Reprintedwithpermission "In Search of the Syna-from j. the Jewish weekly of gogues of Sub-Saharan Afri- Northern California, www. ca"is on display through Jan. By Dina Kraft HERZLIYA, Israel (JTA)-- Grover has been getting to know Israel. The furry, blue "Sesame Street" character has visited the Dead Sea, Caesarea, the Western Wall and even Jeru- salem's shouk to sample the produce. along with Disney Chan- nel star Annelise van der Pol, Grover has been exploring the Jewish state as part of a SesameWorkshop production called "Shalom Sesame." The 12 -part series is geared toward North American Jew- ish children and their families to forge a sense of Jewish identity by providing a taste of Israel, Jewish traditions and culture. It will include celeb- rity appearances by Jake Gyl- lenhaal, Debra Messing and possibly Ben Stiller, among others, and is scheduled for a Chanukah 2010 release. A 1986 production of the same name ~sold 1 million copies and is considered the top-selling Jewish educa- tional title. More than 20 years-later, it was time to update and overhaul the content. "The needs of the Jewish community have changed," said Danny Labin, the proj- ect's executive director, speak- ing at the studio outside of Tel Aviv where segments are being filmed. Labin noted shifting de- mographic realities such as intermarriage and Israel's large immigrant populations from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia. Two of the new human characters reflect this diversity in Israel: One is an Ethiopian Israeli woman, the other a Russian immigrant. Scripts and concepts have been reviewed with the help of a team of senior experts in Jewish education represent- ing the religious streams and a range of backgrounds, from Chabad to Reform. "We are trying to make something that is accessible to those not ensconced in a formal Jewish framework to help parents feel more com- fortable and get them inter- The Sesame Workshop has van der Pol, a wistful van co-productions with some 18 der Pol looks around at her countries, includinganIsraeli new friends and says, "I can't version called "Rehov Sum- believe my Israel adventure is sum"and aPalestinianversion over. It's been the most amaz- called "Shara'a Simsim." ing experience of my life--the "Shalom Sesame" is the friends," first series intended to reach "The falafel!" pipes in Gro- out specifically to an Ameri- ver, prompting a round of can Diaspora audience, but laugh~. similarprogramsareplanned Shoshana, who plays an forchildrenofArabAmericans Israeli family friend of van and of Indian Americans tier Pol's character, turns to based on "Sesame Street"- her and says, "You will always style programs in Egypt and have a home here. You are India. our mishpocha now, part of During a scene shot last our family." week from the final episodes The director calls out, "OK of "Shalom Sesame," at a everyone, get a little mushy farewell party for Grover and now." Koby Gideon/Flash 90/JTA Grover mulls his selections Aug. 28 at the open-air market Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem with the help of an Israeli girl during the filming of Shalom Sesame. ested in a search for identity for generations. The Rosh themselves," Labin said. Hashanah episode openswith The project also intends adiscussionaboutnewbegin- to supplement the TV show nings as the audience sees an with an interactive Web site" Israeli girl start her first day at and other media platforms, school and her brother learn including plans .to use joint how to blow a shofar. online projects to help con- Inanexclusiveinterviewwith nectJewishIsraeliandAmeri- JTA, Grover discussed why he can children with the show as was excited about the project. avehicle. "My home is 'Sesame In the first episode of"Sha- Street,' but I love meeting lore Sesame," the character peoplefromallovertheworld, played by van der Pol--a and one of those places is Is- Jewish-American actress rael, where I have been able to who was named after Anne make new friends andlearn," Frank--is seen on a plane fly- he saidin his trademarkhigh- ing to Israel for her first visit, pitched tone. "I have learned After hearing Grover, cast a few words in Hebrew, like as a flight attendant, shout 'toda' [thank you] and 'boker out "Kosher meal! Aisle 10!," tov' [good morning], andthat they strike up a friendship pretty much gets me by." and decide to travel together Eric Jacobson, the puppe- throughout the country. "teer who assumed the voice Throughout the series the pair andactions of Grover about 10 remain in Israel--a device years ago after the legendary that lets children see various Frank Oz retired, said Grover landscapes, meet Israeli chil- seems to connect with audi- dren and even learn a little ences young and old both in Hebrew. Israel and around the world. There are episodes on the "Let'sstartwiththatGrover Jewish holidays, mitzvah is blue," Jacobson said during themes suchas lovinganimals a break from filming. "No one and treating others kindly, I know is blue, and therefore animation segments and he can be anybody." interviews. The Chanukah Three other puppets join episode will feature a visit Grover in the cast, including with a family whose menorah a floppy-haired Arab Israeli has remained in the family named Mahboub. Shahar" Sorek plays an- other human character, an archeologistwho is religiously observant and wears a kipah. Often he is the one to explain some of the Jewish rituals and Bible stories. "I think it's important to protect and present our Jewish heritage, and this is a tool for helping to do that," Sorek said. Koby Gideon/Flash90 Grover chats with an Israeli boy on Aug. 28 at an overlook of the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City during the film- ing of "Shalom Sesame." We are lookjng for hard working dedicated employee's with long term goals that want to be part of a great team in a growing practice. Experience in optical sales and or lab is preferred. TO BE CONSIDERED FOR THIS JOB, YOU MUST APPLY IN PERSON AT: Fisher Eye Associates 1783 East Broadway Street Oviedo, FL 32765 407-971-1001 !I :! q