In Biloxi, we have not been able to confirm the condition of Beth Israel Congregation. However, the shul is located two blocks from the beach and video from area television stations show widespread devastation in that area. We were unable to determine from aerial footage whether the structure is still standing.
A nearby hotel was lifted off its foundation and deposited onto nearby homes.
According to Lori Beth Susman, past president of Beth Israel, another member took the Torah scrolls from the building for safekeeping, however that person was not among those who evacuated. Susman is in Florida and was unable to contact anyone regarding the building or more importantly, if there were any injuries or casualties among the congregants.
The regional office of United Synagogue is setting up a disaster relief fund and will coordinate High Holiday visits to other congregations in the region. The Conservative congregation in Orlando has already offered tickets for those displaced by the storm.
The DSJV will report from Biloxi in the next couple of days if possible, also bringing supplies. If any of our readers have family along the coast with specific needs, please contact us; email us at email@example.com or call 205.322.9002 ext. 3# and leave a message.
Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this terrible event.
In Biloxi, we have not been able to confirm the condition of Beth Israel Congregation. However, the shul is located two blocks from the beach and video from area television stations show widespread devastation in that area. We were unable to determine from aerial footage whether the structure is still standing.
The Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica, Miss., is hosting about 150 evacuees from the New Orleans area. Among the evacuees are residents of the Louise Davis Developmental Center for Adults with Cognitive Disabilities, which designated the camp as its evacuation site after the 2004 hurricane season.
About 75 members of Reform congregations in New Orleans are at the camp. "We have lots of food, power and facilities to take care of everyone," said Jonathan Cohen, director of the camp. "We're well stocked, and are ready to ride out the storm."
The hurricane came ashore early this morning between New Orleans and the Biloxi/Gulfport area, and at mid-day was bearing down on Hattiesburg. Twenty-foot surges have been reported in Biloxi, with water reaching the second floor of the Beau Rivage casino in Biloxi. The Mississippi coast's only synagogue, Beth Israel in Biloxi, is located about three blocks from the beach.
Downtown Mobile has seen flooding. The two synagogues are away from downtown; though this summer Springhill Avenue Temple has been repairing its roof, which was damaged by Hurricane Ivan last September.
We will continue to post information as it comes in.
BIRMINGHAM, Aug. 29 -- Rabbi Cynthia Culpeper, the first pulpit rabbi to announce being diagnosed with AIDS, died this morning after a 10-year battle with the disease.
Culpeper, 43, was diagnosed after coming down with thrush shortly before her first High Holy Days after being ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary. Because healthy adults do not get thrush, she was urged to take an HIV test.
The results came in on Rosh Hashanah in 1995; when she returned the call after the holy day she was told the test came back positive.
At the time of her diagnosis she was rabbi of Agudath Israel in Montgomery. She continued as the full-time rabbi there until early 1997, then moved to Birmingham, where she was receiving cutting-edge care through the AIDS research clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
She became a "rabbi at large" for Birmingham, teaching classes and, for a time, speaking to Jewish communities nationally about AIDS. In 2000, she became the first female rabbi to lead religious services in Poland, conducting High Holy Day services at Beit Warszawa.
She also led Seder at the Jerusalem Open House in 2003, and in 2004 participated in an Israel mission with her hometown congregation, B'nai Emunah in San Francisco.
B'nai Emunah Rabbi Ted Alexander called Culpeper's death "a horrible tragedy," and noted how active she was on the congregational trip last year. Though Culpeper had to use a cane, "she was fabulous. She outran everybody. She was sick?"
Alexander remembered how Culpeper appeared at his congregation one Shabbat evening, a Catholic high school student with a report to write about Judaism. She asked him questions after the service, returned the next week with more questions, then came back the third week with one question -- how to become Jewish.
One of the nuns at Culpeper's school later met with him. Instead of telling him to stay away, she said Culpeper confided in her, and said "I know she will not make a good Catholic, so make a good Jew out of her."
Culpeper converted to Judaism as an adult, then decided to pursue the rabbinate to deepen her personal commitment. A graduate of the San Francisco State nursing program, she worked at San Francisco General Hospital during semester breaks from JTS. In January 1994, she received an "occupational exposure" through an accidental needle stick. She was tested immediately and six months later, with both tests being negative. Usually, if a test is negative after six months, there is nothing to worry about. She "totally put the incident out of my mind and never thought about it again."
Because of her background as a nurse, she envisioned going into hospital chaplaincy, but decided to take a student pulpit to get the idea of being a pulpit rabbi "out of my system."
She served Montgomery's Agudath Israel, then decided to become a pulpit rabbi. Agudath Israel, which has since merged to become Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem, offered her the full-time position after her 1995 ordination.
After being diagnosed in September 1995, she went from having HIV to being diagnosed with full-blown AIDS in two weeks, a process that normally takes years. Her T-cell count was at the extremely low level of 3.
She began treatment in Birmingham, but kept news of her condition quiet, finally scheduling a congregational meeting for Jan. 7, 1996. Just before the meeting began, she told the congregation's president what the meeting would be about, and had a representative from Montgomery AIDS Outreach on hand to answer questions.
She was hesitant about the type of reaction she would get from her congregants, but afterward got "150 hugs" from the 150 congregants in attendance.
Richard Friedman, executive director of the Birmingham Jewish Federation, said Culpeper "illuminated the Birmingham Jewish community with her dedication to Judaism, love for children, inspiring and engaging warmth and determination to make the world a better place."
Though Culpeper initially had positive response to the experimental drugs -- ones she would have been on waiting lists to get if she had been in San Francisco or New York instead of Alabama -- her health was a roller-coaster. Still, she tried to maintain as busy a schedule as possible.
Always media-shy, she insisted that she did not want to be known as the rabbi that grew up Catholic, or as the first full-time female rabbi in Alabama. Then, she did not want to be known just as "the AIDS rabbi." She contributed to "The Women's Torah Commentary" and was scheduled to assist at this year's High Holy Days at B'nai Emunah. The September bulletin for Temple Beth-El, the Conservative congregation here, listed a Hebrew crash course and Sunday Shiur that she planned to lead.
The funeral will be on Aug. 31 on 2 p.m. at the Old Beth-El Cemetery in Birmingham.
A Palestinian suicide bomber wounded 20 people in southern Israel. (JTA) The terrorist tried to board a bus in Beersheba on Sunday but, after being chased away by suspicious security guards, he blew himself up outside. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad had vowed to retaliate for Israel's killing last week of five Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank. The Beersheba bombing was seen as an embarrassment for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who earlier Sunday said that the cease-fire he declared with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last February would hold indefinitely.
Israeli military rabbis began moving Jewish graves out of the Gaza Strip. (JTA) The exhumation of 48 Israelis buried in the cemetery of the main Gaza settlement bloc, Gush Katif, began Sunday, with the remains transferred to Israel. The next of kin will decide where to rebury their loved ones. The entire operation, one of the final stages of Israel's evacuation of Gaza settlements, is expected to take no more than five days.
Israel approved the transfer of its security control of the Gaza Strip's southern border to Egypt. (JTA) By a vote of 18-2, Israel's Cabinet on Sunday agreed to allow Egypt to post 750 troops along the 8-mile corridor to stop arms smuggling from the Sinai to Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. Some Israeli security experts, including the chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Yuval Steinitz, had come out against the deal, which effectively rescinds a clause in the 1979 Camp David peace accord with Egypt requiring that the Sinai remain demilitarized.
File Photo of the Temple Beth-El cemetery on Cervantes Street in Pensacola
About thirty markers in the older section of Pensacola's Temple Beth-El cemetery were toppled Saturday night or Sunday morning in an act of vandalism. The congregation is the oldest in the state of Florida.
Congregants are raising funds both for a reward for information leading to the perpetrators, and for repair to the damaged stones (to make a donation, call Temple Beth-El at 850-438-3321). Many of the stones remained intact but some were broken. There have been other instances of Pensacola-area cemeteries being vandalized and thus far, it appears to be the work of bored youth rather than an anti-Semitic incident.
If you have information regarding the vandalism of the cemetery, please call Crime Stoppers at 850-433-STOP or the Pensacola Police Department at 850-435-1965.
This story will be updated.
The fact that the withdrawal went relatively smoothly challenges the long-standing belief that Israel will not be able to dismantle large numbers of settlements in the West Bank, shores up Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's international and domestic standing, and suggests that the settler movement will not be able to set the national agenda in quite the same way as it has for more than three decades.
Despite apocalyptic forecasts of conflicts approaching civil war, it took the Israeli army and police less than a week to remove the roughly 9,000 Gaza settlers and about 3,000 radicals who had infiltrated the settlements to stiffen resistance.
The strategy was to isolate the settlements and send overwhelming numbers of soldiers and police into one or two at a time. The military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, explained that the huge numbers made it possible to do the job using minimal force.
The settlers expressed their anguish at being forced to leave their homes: There were tears, harsh words and some ugly physical clashes, but no bloodshed.
Indeed, what violence there was seemed to set clear limits to future resistance after Israeli society unanimously condemned waving sticks, hurling wooden beams and pouring down oil, paint and turpentine to fend off soldiers and police as "intolerable hooliganism."
All this could have major implications for the West Bank. For decades, many Israelis have argued that the settlement project was irreversible. Now pundits are challenging that view.
Writing in Ha'aretz, Zvi Barel argued that the ease of the evacuation had shattered the irreversibility theory.
"Suddenly it becomes clear that the logic that dismantled the Gaza settlements can also be applied to the West Bank. The fears that drove the state are also reversible: no civil war or military mutiny. Only curses, nails and oil," he wrote. "This is precisely the time for the state to continue down the same path it charted in Gaza and proceed to the West Bank, the illegal outposts, the tiny settlements, the lawbreakers - even the state's fear of the settlements can be reversed."
Only six weeks ago, Yonatan Bassi, the official in charge of resettlement and compensation, argued that a similar operation in the West Bank would be impossible because of the large number of settlers involved: If Israel annexes only the three large settlement blocs close to the pre-1967 boundaries, the estimate is that 50,000-80,000 settlers would have to be moved from far-flung settlements.
That could mean up to 10 times the effort and 10 times the amount in compensation, compared to the Gaza operation. That, Bassi had insisted, made it impossible.
Six weeks ago many analysts would have agreed, but Bassi’s thesis seems far less convincing today.
The speedy evacuation also is helping Sharon. The fact that he didn’t shrink from the Gaza operation and carried it out with such impressive efficiency has enhanced his international reputation.
An Italian group has nominated the Israeli prime minister for the Nobel Peace Prize, and Sharon himself feels confident enough to address the U.N. General Assembly next month, a forum in which Israel regularly is criticized.
Even some Palestinians have been impressed by the Gaza operation. In a rare expression of empathy for Israeli suffering, journalist Daoud Kuttab, writing in The New York Times, argued that "whether Palestinians and Arabs will admit it or not, the powerful images of the last few days cannot be ignored."
The "new view of Israel" that such images inspired could help the cause of peace, Kuttab suggested.
Sharon's domestic situation has improved, too. The way in which the evacuation was carried out won him plaudits in the media and could translate into several percentage points of support in polls.
More importantly, there are signs that he may be gaining ground in his Likud Party, where he faces a leadership challenge from former Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Though recent polls showed Netanyahu ahead in the party, there is a growing perception among Likud activists that Sharon would be a much more electable candidate in a national election.
Sharon's recovery in the party could prove temporary, however; much will depend on the Palestinians' next moves. If there is a renewed outbreak of terrorism, Netanyahu will blame the Gaza withdrawal. If there is quiet, Sharon's comeback will gather pace.
Most importantly for many secular Israelis, the balance of power between their vision of a democratic Israel and some settlers' vision of a theocratic state seems to have swung dramatically in the democrats' favor.
Novelist Amos Oz articulated the mood in an article in the Yediot Achronot newspaper.
"For more than 30 years," Oz wrote, "the settlers' dream has overwhelmed the dream of secular Israelis. Day in and day out, the vision of Greater Israel and the reign of the Messiah crushed the hope of being a free people and building a just society."
But now, Oz wrote, the tables have been turned: The settlers no are longer setting the agenda, and they're experiencing distress similar to what they caused mainstream Israelis for nearly three decades.
The settler defeat has put the Yesha settler council under enormous pressure. Hard-liners, who blame the Yesha council for the failed anti-evacuation campaign, say the group was not militant enough.
But Sharon maintains that Yesha's leadership did little to curb violence and that, consequently, he will not allow the group a role in government plans to develop the Negev and Galilee to host evicted settlers.
For now, secular, pragmatic Israel, with Sharon as its chief representative, has the upper hand. The extremists on both sides are at bay. The question is, for how long?
Temple Beth Or's Library First in State to Receive Accreditation from Jewish Libraries Group
Over the last couple of years, Montgomery's Temple Beth Or has placed an emphasis on improving its library, and renamed it in memory of Rabbi Eugene Blachschleger, who served the congregation from 1933 to 1965. Now, the congregation can boast about having the first library in the area to be certified by the Association of Jewish Libraries.
Instead of boasting, though, Beth Or Rabbi Kenneth Segel said this should be taken as a challenge for other communities in the region to upgrade their Jewish libraries.
The Association of Jewish Libraries promotes Jewish literacy through enhancement of libraries and library resources and through leadership for the profession and practitioners of Judaica librarianship.
Diana Unterspan went to the association's convention in Brooklyn last year, and met with the head of the accreditation committee to find out what was involved. The congregation was paired with a mentor from Atlanta and began working on the forms to get the process rolling.
To be accredited, a library must have community support, representation to the agency's board and outreach to the general community.
Accredited libraries must also have line-item budgets, a library committee, a policy manual and lending policies.
A library's holdings are expected to include a variety of topics, from traditional texts and commentaries to history and present-day issues, including Israel. Sections on Jewish thought and traditions must range the spectrum, from traditional to left-wing.
Only about 40 synagogue libraries nationally are certified, so this is "quite a coup" for Beth Or, Unterspan said. The congregation's library currently has Basic certification.
Beth Or's library has a computerized catalog, and uses the Alazar system. Unterspan explained that the more widely known Dewey system is much narrower when doing a library around a certain topic, so it would be the third or fourth decimal place before there would be any differentiation on the shelves.
The Alazar system was developed by Daniel Elazar in 1950 when organizing the library at United Hebrew Schools in Detroit. For example, 001 to 099 is Bible and Biblical studies, the 500s include Jewish literature, and the 600s cover the Jewish community, social issues and the arts.
The library also has a cross-section of periodicals and a video collection.
Unterspan said an area of emphasis is expanding the DVD collection and enhancing the collection of books about the Jewish south.
The library is open whenever the Beth Or building is open. Members of the Jewish community can check out books, and students at area colleges can also check out books. For others, the library is open as a reading room.
Segel said students from Huntingdon, Alabama State, Auburn-Montgomery and Troy State regularly use the library, as do students from some local high schools.
Churches also use the library, as Sunday School participants come by to do research. For Segel, that proves the "investment we have made is an important one."
The library has a monthly newsletter, and thanks to funding from an anonymous "angel," there will be a Jewish authors series. The first program will be Nov. 15, when author Bruce Feiler visits. Feiler is author of "Walking the Bible" and "Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths."
There is a large children's section that is divided into five topics. Holidays are arranged in order of importance, and Unterspan noted it teaches that Chanukah indeed is not the most important holiday.
There is a weekly children's story hour in the library, and a component of the religious school includes library usage.
When Segel began at Beth Or, he made improving the library one of his priorities. The synagogue is traditionally a house of study, Segel said, but libraries are "a source of embarrassment" in most communities. "They're proud of their kitchens and social halls...what about your libraries?"
Segel hopes the library becomes the cornerstone of "a cultural wing" at Beth Or that can bring national exhibits to Montgomery.
He hopes other communities will follow Beth Or's example, saying to themselves "if Montgomery can do it, why can't we?"
Iran credited the Palestinians with forcing Israel to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. (JTA) "The evacuation shows that what was taken by force would not have been retrieved without resistance," Iranian state radio quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi as saying Thursday. He referred to armed Palestinian attacks during the intifada as "legitimate resistance."
Condoleezza Rice expressed empathy for Israel, but said its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip was not enough. (JTA) In an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, the U.S. secretary of state called the withdrawal a "dramatic moment in the history of the Middle East" and called on Israel to loosen travel restrictions for Palestinians and withdraw from more parts of the West Bank. She called on the Palestinian Authority to disarm Hamas.
The Jerusalem Post reports that 77 people have been injured during the evacuation of the Kfar Darom synagogue today.
Jewish settler attack against three Palestinians denounced today by Sharon and other political leaders, reports Ha'aretz.
Ha'aretz reports that 16 of the 21 Gaza settlements have now been evacuated.
Reuters reports that stray pets will be rounded up by animal rescuers once Gaza settlements are evacuated.
Reserve your High Holy Day Greetings in the DSJV - it's an attractive, fast, and easy way to wish all your family and friends a happy 5766!
The greetings we show below are options for your greeting (they aren't actual-size, but are used here as examples as how you can put your greeting together).
There are just four easy steps:
1.) Choose what size greeting you'd like to send:
- 2"x2" $26
- 3"x2" $38
- 4"x2" $48
- 4"x3" $64
- 4"x4" $80
- 5"x6" $145
- apples and honey
- Western Wall
- Israel flag
4.) Pay one of two ways:
(a.) Pay via creditcard. Just click the link below on the size you want to purchase, and you'll be directed to PayPal. Enter your design choice and greeting text (as well as the family name you want to appear) in the message box when you pay.
(b.) Mail in your payment along with your instructions on size, design, and greeting <If any of the required information has been omitted, we reserve the right to pick a design or wording for your greeting.> to us at:
Deep South Jewish Voice
PO Box 130052
Birmingham, AL 35213
Deadline for receiving greeting orders is September 16, 2005. Orders received after that date will be returned.
Call the DSJV offices at 205.322.9002 with any questions, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
L'Shanah Tova, Y'all!
2" x 2" Greeting : $26
3" x 2" Greeting : $38
4" x 2" Greeting : $48
4" x 3" Greeting : $64
4" x 4" Greeting : $80
1/4 Page (5" x 6") Greeting : $145
By Dina Kraft
NEVEH DEKALIM, Gaza Strip, August 17 (JTA) - Families pleaded with soldiers not to evict them from their homes of 20 years, yeshiva students ripped their shirts in mourning and anti-pullout activists cursed policemen as criminals as Israel evacuated Neveh Dekalim, the largest of its Gaza Strip settlements.
Smoke from burning tires and rubbish curled into the hot air as a haunting silence fell over Neveh Dekalim.
Despite the resistance here and elsewhere, Israeli officials said the withdrawal from 21 settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank was going better than expected. By Wednesday evening, more than 60 percent of Gaza settlers had left, leading Israel Radio to report that the evacuation would be completed well ahead of the Sept. 4 deadline.
But that's not to say that all was going smoothly: In the West Bank, an Israeli settler shot dead three Palestinians on Wednesday.
Police said the man grabbed a gun from a security guard at the Shiloh settlement's industrial zone and opened fire at Palestinian workers, killing three and wounding two. The assailant was arrested and disarmed.
In southern Israel, a woman set herself on fire at a police checkpoint to protest the withdrawal. The woman, a West Bank settler in her 60s, doused herself with gasoline.
A police spokesman who described the incident as a politically motivated suicide attempt, said the woman was admitted to a hospital with 60 percent of her body burned.
In the Gaza settlement of Morag, a woman stabbed an Israeli soldier with an IV needle near a synagogue, Ha'aretz reported.
In Neveh Dekalim, meanwhile, passions and tensions ran high even as the scene remained relatively peaceful.
Some houses already were shuttered and abandoned. At others, boxes waiting for moving vans were stacked on porches and patios.
Teams of soldiers went through the neighborhoods negotiating with families to leave their homes peacefully. In calm voices, they met the frenzied pleas of families telling them that their orders were immoral and should be ignored.
Gidon Bashari, who has lived in Neveh Dekalim for 17 years, had not packed a single box. He told the soldiers who came to his door that he would leave peacefully - but not until they sat with his family and let them explain why they did not want to go.
"We are not violent people," said Bashari, a high school principal who works in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. "Our struggle is in the spirit of the nation. What you are doing is anti-democratic and against our country, and history will judge you."
Up the street from Bashari's house, Sagi Ifrach, 23, sat on the red-tiled roof of the house where he grew up, refusing to leave. Surrounded by friends singing Hatikvah, Israel's national anthem, and waving the Israeli flag, they mocked the soldiers in the garden below.
Security forces eventually climbed a ladder and convinced Ifrach to come down. Wearing an Israeli flag like a cape, Ifrach sobbed as he descended the wooden ladder.
Nearby, a little girl with long brown hair cried uncontrollably as she leaned against her father's leg. The family had just been evacuated.
While most families eventually agreed to leave their homes without a fight, there were scattered examples throughout the Gush Katif bloc, which includes the majority of Gaza settlements, of people who had to be physically dragged out their front doors, past gardens they had carefully planted and into dusty buses waiting to take them to hotels inside Israel.
About 50 soldiers entered the foyer of Neveh Dekalim's Yamit Yeshiva, waiting to evacuate those inside. Worshipers held a final service, breaking into tears as they took scissors and knives to rend each other's shirts in a sign of mourning.
Soon the wails turned to prayer and song as about 200 worshipers swayed arm-in-arm and sang of Jerusalem. As they prayed, some of the soldiers joined arms and swayed with them.
Scenes of intense emotion were seen throughout the day as soldiers escorted families from their homes. Many of the soldiers also wiped tears from their eyes and tried to comfort one another with hugs.
The soldiers faced intense hostility from settlers and large numbers of anti-withdrawal activists who have flooded Neveh Dekalim in recent weeks. They were bombarded with shouts of "traitor" and even "kapo," a reference to Jews who served as supervisors in Nazi concentration camps.
As a massive force of police and soldiers entered Neveh Dekalim on Wednesday morning, they were booed and hissed.
People chanted "Jews don't expel Jews," one of the anthems of the anti-Gaza pullout movement. Fingers were pointed as teenagers and middle-aged residents told the security forces that they should be ashamed of themselves and that they were committing a crime against the Jewish people.
Anti-withdrawal activists, many of them teenagers, had stayed overnight at the two main Neveh Dekalim synagogues, which face each other across a plaza.
Hundreds gathered to pray as the sun rose. On one side of the plaza, men in prayer shawls swayed in the pinkish, early-morning light, as women prayed on the other side.
Eliana Braun, 16, from Ginot Shomron, a West Bank settlement, was among the girls who had spent the night at the Sephardi synagogue. She said she had not believed the evacuation would really take place - but that in any case, the struggle against it had been worth it.
"Now people are more connected and understand what is happening here," she said. "I don't think it will influence" Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, "but this was not meant for him. Instead it was meant to wake up the country."
Temple Beth-El's Cantor Daniel Gale
Some cantors come from a long line of cantors and rabbis, and know early on that they want to pursue the family tradition. Cantor Daniel Gale, who began at Birmingham's Temple Beth-El on July 1, took a somewhat different route.
Gale grew into the position of cantor in his hometown congregation, Temple Israel in Bay City, Mich. The small congregation never had a full-time cantor when he was growing up, Gale said. "When I was very young, there was a part-time cantor, a lawyer in the community."
A formative experience was attending Camp Ramah in Canada, which is where he would meet his future wife, Erica. Ramah was "an incredible experience for a kid growing up in a small community where there were maybe five Jewish kids." Walking into the dining hall and seeing 500 campers was "more Jewish kids than I'd seen in my entire life."
He honed his skills at Ramah, and at the age of 14 led the Rosh Hashanah afternoon service in Bay City. He studied with the congregation's rabbi Jossef Kratzenstein, who had been invested as a cantor before becoming a rabbi. "He really knew his stuff," Gale commented.
Gale continued to lead services, singing for the High Holy Days during his college years. He studied voice and opera at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and then started at the Jewish Theological Seminary's cantorial program.
"It just wasn't for me at the time," Gale explained, saying that so many of his classmates were so serious and committed, and "I didn't feel like I was there for the right reasons."
He returned to Michigan and performed in secular venues. "It wasn't enough to put food on the table, but I liked to consider myself a professional musician."
Still, he needed to pay the bills, so he joined his father's printing business and "gave up singing for a while."
He is grateful for the time he was able to spend running the business with his father, who died in 1991. He continued to study and become more active with Temple Israel. "My life's passion has always been Judaism and music."
There are two ways to become a cantor in the Conservative movement, he said.
One is to graduate from JTS, the second is to study with a cantor and pass a Cantorial Boards exam. He pursued the latter, and became a member of the Cantor's Assembly, the Conservative movement's cantorial group. He is also a board member of the Jewish Ministers Cantors Association, an older, non-denominational group.
With the arrival of their son, Noah, the Gales began to think about the future, and raising a child Jewishly in a small community like Bay City.
"You're in a small town for parnassah, for family," Gale said. Most Jewish education "happens at home, and we've been sending Noah to Ramah, but we were thinking at some point we'd want to leave Bay City."
About 10 years ago, Gale decided he wanted to dedicate himself to the cantorate. He was in the process of closing the printing business and started looking around the country for a position.
He said he was literally on the steps of the post office, about to send information to several congregations, when he was approached by a fellow Temple Israel member. The congregation's rabbi was leaving, would he consider stepping in? "That's how I fell into the position at Temple Israel, where I grew up."
Leading your childhood congregation brings different experiences. "It's a sweet thing to officiate at a Bar or Bat Mitzvah for someone I grew up with," he said. He was also able to participate in the community in a broader way than in congregations where the roles of rabbi and cantor are
more strictly delineated, he said.
But Bay City is struggling to maintain its community. Gale said a century ago, it was the second-largest Jewish community in Michigan, with 900 families. After the lumber industry in the area declined, so did the Jewish community.
Now, there are three small communities - Bay City, Saginaw and Midland - a short distance from each other. About 20 years ago, there was an attempt to merge the communities, but Gale said nobody was comfortable using that term.
Gradually, the three communities have gone their separate ways again. Bay City is the largest of the three, but Gale said he realized "when the last leg of the merger fell away, at some point Bay City would not have the financial wherewithal or critical mass for full-time clergy."
He decided "it was a sooner rather than later issue." He worked through the Cantor's Assembly placement committee, and while he was looking at several communities, he was advised to wait and visit Birmingham.
Gale said he looked at how active and involved the community is Jewishly, and was amazed at what he saw in Birmingham. He also noted the "wonderful facilities" of the Levite Jewish Community Center and N.E. Miles Jewish Day School, and the very high synagogue affiliation rate.
Gale plans to participate in adult education where needed, to "find my place in the educational structure of the community," and to contribute "to the musical life of the congregation, not only in services." He will maintain the current choral presence, saying "there seems to be an appetite for that."
He also hopes to be involved in interfaith work, which was a strong component for him in Michigan. He served on the Board of Directors for the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra and was a member of the Interfaith Clergy Council of the Bridge Center for Racial Harmony. For his interfaith work in the community, Gale was honored with the Bridge Center's "Spirit of the
River Award for Religious Leadership," and the City of Bay City's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "Keep the Dream Alive Award."
He has also appeared in recital and concert nationally, and has been heard as soloist in numerous broadcasts over National Public Radio. He performed the world-premier of Laurence Sherr's "Fugitive Footsteps" at a Kristallnacht Memorial Concert in Atlanta.
Last year he performed with Oral Moses, professor of voice and music literature at Kennesaw State College in Georgia. They met at the University of Michigan, and were both opera enthusiasts.
They did a program entitled "Songs of Struggle, Songs of Faith: Celebrating the African-American and Jewish Musical Traditions" at Saginaw Valley State University, and have been asked to reprise the performance next year as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday observances there.
Gale's wife and son will be in Michigan this year, so she can finish with her tutoring business and Noah can conclude the ninth grade and enter a new school at the time that students in this area transition from junior high to high school.
Gale succeeds Hazzan Errol Helfman, who moved to Richmond, Va. this summer after 12 years at Beth-El.
For summer 2005, the Jewish Children¹s Regional Service has provided "need based" funding to a record 257 Southern Jewish youth to attend overnight camp. The campers are residents of seven southern states, including Alabama and Mississippi, and must attend a camp sponsored by a Jewish non-profit organization.
"This is the only comprehensive Jewish camp scholarship program of its kind," explained JCRS executive director Ned Goldberg. "These Jewish youth attend 30 different camps each summer, and over the last 10 years, have attended approximately half of the 120 Jewish overnight camps in the United States. This camp scholarship program is over 50 years old and has served
many thousands of Jewish youth.
"The Jewish camp experience is proven to enhance Jewish identity and the JCRS has countless adult success stories who are today active in Jewish life as a result of attending camp when they were young. For example, a number of lay and professional leaders in the South were once aided as youth by the JCRS," he added.
To further emphasize this point, Goldberg pointed to the current co-chair of the camp scholarship committee, New Orleans tax attorney Bruce Miller, who received JCRS scholarship aid. In 2004, the speakers at the JCRS annual meeting were comprised of a camp director, a Hillel director, a synagogue administrator, two Jewish educators, and a federation executive who had all received camp, college, and/or special needs assistance from the JCRS as
youth. Today, they work across the South in various professional capacities.
More information: www.jcrsnola.org, or (800) 729.5277.
Edgar Ray Killen, who was convicted of manslaughter in June of the 1964 killing of three civil rights workers near Philadelphia, Miss., was freed on a $600,000 post-conviction bond today.
Friends and relatives paid the bond this afternoon. According to Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon, who presided during the trial, court rules allow for bonds to be posted during an appeal unless a person was convicted of felony child abuse or capital murder. While Killen was tried for murder, the jury found Killen guilty of manslaughter in the deaths of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman.
The State of Mississippi appealed Gordon's ruling and asked for a stay, which Gordon denied. He stated that the appeal would likely be heard within a year.
This trial was the first time that state charges had been brought against any of the approximately 19 men who were involved in the 1964 murders. Several were convicted of Federal civil rights charges in 1967, but Killen's jury deadlocked.
Killen, now 80, is in poor health, and during one day of the trial was taken to an area hospital after his blood pressure spiked.
Israeli researchers claimed a breakthrough toward using hydrogen for fuel. (JTA) Working with European colleagues, researchers at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science have developed innovative solar technology that may offer a "green" solution to the production of hydrogen fuel. The process generates no pollution and produces zinc oxide that can be easily stored, transported, and converted back to hydrogen on demand, and has various energy uses. Results of the experiment are being reported this week at the 2005 Solar World Congress in Orlando, Fla.
Israel holds some 1,000 pieces of real estate owned by Jews who perished in the Holocaust, Israel's custodian general said. (JTA) The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported Tuesday that Shlomo Shahar told a subcommittee of the Israeli government's Law and Constitution Committee that Israel also has some 500 other assets and 3,500 bank accounts of Holocaust victims. The committee was discussing a bill that seeks to create a public corporation or a government authority to coordinate restitution to the properties' legal heirs.
Israel will temporarily deport a Jewish citizen who also has U.S. citizenship for her activities against Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. (JTA) The Justice Ministry said Wednesday that Sa'adia Hershkopf agreed to leave the country and not return for 40 days as an alternative to administrative detention. Hershkopf, an 18-year-old resident of Kfar Chabad, was one of three activists arrested last week after a Jewish terrorist killed four Israeli Arabs. The attack was seen as a bid to derail this month's planned withdrawals from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank. It was not immediately clear when Hershkopf would be deported. In a separate incident, a couple who had taken up residence in one of four West Bank settlements slated for evacuation was ordered to leave after the Shin Bet designated them a security risk.
Holocaust survivors are three times more likely to attempt suicide than others, a new study suggests. (JTA) According to findings published in the recent American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, around 24 percent of Holocaust survivors hospitalized at Israel's Abarbanel Mental Health Center have tried to kill themselves, as opposed to an 8.2 percent rate of attempted suicide among other elderly patients. According to the Abarbanel staff and Tel Aviv University researchers who carried out the study, it overturns longstanding beliefs that Jews who survived the Nazi genocide have a stronger will to live. The rate of suicide attempts increases as survivors age, the researchers found.
One in two Israelis avoids alcohol, a government study found. (JTA) According to Health Ministry dietary data released this week, 50 percent of Israelis do not drink, making for a low average national alcohol consumption of 20 ml per person per day. While general eating habits are acceptable, with the average Israeli taking in more than 2,000 calories a day only on weekends, the report found that most diets are too high in cholesterol and too low in calcium. Citizens of citrus-rich Israel also consume too much Vitamin C and therefore run the risk of developing kidney problems, the report warned.
A Jewish school in California was vandalized in what is being called a hate crime. (JTA) Swastikas, cartoon characters and the word "trouble" defaced the Torah Academy in Southern California on Monday, according to a media report. Local Jewish officials said it's not the first time vandals have attacked the school. Police are investigating the incident.
Some Israeli prisoners created an entrepreneurial stir by inventing a tough new sponge. (JTA) Billed as the most effective means yet of dealing with greasy pots and pans, the pad was developed by 15 inmates at Ayalon Prison as part of a jailhouse work program. A Prisons Service official, Haggai Dahan, said Wednesday that business was booming. "One of the big marketing firms has ordered 10,000 units," Dahan told Ma'ariv. "There is also interest abroad, and the bulk of the product is intended to be sold in the United States and Europe." The Prisons Service plans to mass-produce the pads and give prisoners involved in the enterprise a share of the profits, Ma'ariv reported.
Abercrombie & Fitch will partner with the Anti-Defamation League to bring anti-bias programming to U.S. college campuses. (JTA) The clothing retailer will join the ADL in promoting A Campus of Difference, a diversity training program to be launched at Washington University in St. Louis on Aug. 18 and then on several other campuses. "We are proud to be able to bring diversity education to some of the nation's most respected institutions of higher learning through this unique partnership with Abercrombie & Fitch," said the ADL's associate national director, Caryl Stern. "To its credit, Abercrombie & Fitch has taken the lead as a responsible corporation concerned not only about diversity in retailing, but in confronting bias and prejudice in the larger society and especially among young people at our nation's premier institutions of higher learning." Todd Corley, vice president for diversity at Abercrombie & Fitch, said the initiative would be important to help "support the dialogue among college students about the importance of appreciating differences."
By Dan Baron
JERUSALEM, Aug. 7 (JTA) - Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thrown Israeli politics into disarray with an 11th-hour resignation in protest at the upcoming Gaza Strip withdrawal.
After long denying pundits' speculation that his days alongside Prime Minister Ariel Sharon were numbered, Netanyahu tendered his resignation Sunday, just as the Cabinet approved the first phase of settlement evacuations, which are slated to begin next week.
"I am all torn up inside," Netanyahu told reporters. "Like anyone, I aspire to leave Gaza. I aspire to peace," he said. "But the disengagement plan endangers Israel and is polarizing its people."
Sharon had no immediate comment on the surprise move by his top Likud Party rival, which was hailed as a heroic act of conscience by many Israelis who see the unilateral withdrawals from Gaza and the northern West Bank as a recipe for renewed Palestinian terrorism.
But on the left, Netanyahu was accused of cynically staking out a claim on a second term as prime minister at the cost of government stability. Labor Party ministers were quick to recall how he handed over most of the West Bank city of Hebron to the Palestinian Authority while he was prime minister in 1997, despite having earlier lambasted the land-for-peace principle before he headed the government.
"Netanyahu is, once again, coming out as a schemer at a historic juncture, preferring his own interests over those of the nation's," Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said.
Barring copycat resignations by other Likud ministers who have voiced misgivings about the Gaza plan, Sharon's most important policy is expected to stay on track.
Sharon wasted no time in naming Trade Minister Ehud Olmert to be Netanyahu's interim replacement.
But all agreed that, in today's global economy, Netanyahu's shoes as finance minister would be hard to fill. During two-and-a-half years at the Treasury, he made a major impact with belt-tightening reforms that many economists credited with pulling the Jewish state out of recession.
The Israeli markets panicked at Netanyahu's resignation, which came an hour before trading ended. The MAOF Index plummeted 5.25 percent, and there were similar drops across the board.
Netanyahu appealed for calm, extolling the skills of his Finance Ministry aides and recommending that his successor keep them on.
"He will receive an economy that has gone from collapse to growth," Netanyahu said. "As long as the same course is maintained at the helm, this trend should continue."
According to media reports, Netanyahu's decision to quit the government was so quick as to have caught his closest advisers off-guard. Some political analysts suggested that, with the removal of 25 Jewish settlements to formally begin on Aug. 15, Netanyahu seeks to inherit as the next prime minister an Israel devoid of the security burden of Gaza, while remaining unassociated with its evacuation.
The walkout could help restore Netanyahu's credibility among hard-line supporters.
Just last week, one of his long-standing foreign funders, the Australian diamond billionaire Joseph Gutnick, said in an Israeli-television interview that Netanyahu had disappointed many of those who voted for him as prime minister in 1996.
In his remarks to reporters, Netanyahu did not detail his political aspirations, saying only that he did not want to be remembered as having taken part in a withdrawal that could turn Gaza into a "base for Islamic terror."
"You know, I'm the son of a historian," he said. "In 10, 50, 100 years, I want them to be able to say, He did not take part in it."
By Dina Kraft
KIBBUTZ MABAROT, Israel (JTA) - Opinions on Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip pile up even higher than the helpings of Dorit Daniel's stuffed zucchinis at a family dinner.
"I feel terrible things are about to happen," says Daniel, 57, who is adamantly in favor of the withdrawal scheduled to begin in mid-August but fears the internal fallout could be disastrous.
"I'm most fearful about someone from one side or another getting shot - that could lead to civil war," she says, cradling her head in her hands as she sits at the table of her home in Kibbutz Mabarot, located in the center of the country, near Netanya.
Her 24-year-old son, who asked not to be identified because he recently completed his army service in an elite unit, argues that the unilateral pullout of forces from Gaza and part of the northern West Bank is a mistake. He says evacuating the approximately 9,000 Jewish settlers who live there and the soldiers who protect them could lead to a security vacuum and greater instability.
Across Israel, tensions are rising along with the soaring summer heat as the country barrels towards the unknown.
Israelis - young and old, religious and secular, left and right - anxiously wait to see where the withdrawal will lead. The debate over possible scenarios rages everywhere from Shabbat dinners to cafes to supermarket checkout lines.
Will Israel, they wonder, see a traumatic face-off between fellow citizens, increased Palestinian mortar attacks, or other forms of terrorism? Or will they see a relatively smooth return of settlers to homes inside Israel's 1967 borders and a Palestinian-ruled Gaza that develops and grows into a positive test case for statehood?
On a busy intersection near Tel Aviv’s main train station, young and old pass out colored ribbons: Those in favor of the pullout hand out blue ribbons, representing the color of Israel's flag; the ribbons distributed by those opposed are bright orange, the official color of their struggle.
On a metal traffic sign, two opposing posters hang one on top of the other: "The Majority Decides - We Are Leaving Gaza," reads one; the other says: "Disengagement Will Lead to Terror."
Israel's religious Zionist community is becoming increasingly distraught over the planned withdrawal. Most adherents view the events of this summer as both defining and potentially disastrous. For many, the very core of their beliefs - that the biblical Land of Israel is their birthright, promised to them by God - has come under assault by the secular establishment.
"I pray with all my heart that everything will end peacefully. It will be very difficult" if the withdrawal happens, says Esther Reznikov, a 19-year-old religious graphics student from Tel Aviv, while passing out orange ribbons to people in cars at a busy intersection.
"If I did not have faith in the land and in God, I'm not sure I would even be able to continue living in a place that could betray you in such a way," she says.
At the same intersection, Amiram Raber, 37, passes out blue ribbons.
"It's crazy to think we can stay there and deny the existence of one million Arabs," says Raber, who works with computers.
The national mood swung into heightened tension and uncertainty at the end of July when thousands of anti-withdrawal activists poured into the sleepy, southern village of Kfar Maimon in an effort to have their message of dissent heard by both the Israeli government and the country’s citizens.
The police quickly deemed the large gathering illegal, citing the group's plans to march to Gaza - now declared a closed military zone ahead of the August withdrawal.
In a difficult three-day face-off among protesters, police and soldiers that eventually ended peacefully, the anti-withdrawal activists, many of them Orthodox Jewish settlers from the West Bank, showed their determination not to let the Gaza and northern West Bank withdrawal pass without a serious struggle.
Sarah Kronish, 36, her hair covered with an orange head scarf, went to Kfar Maimon from the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut along with her husband and five children, ranging in age from 9 months to 10 years old.
"We cannot sit at home and continue our normal lives," said Kronish, her hands resting on a baby stroller full of provisions. "Today it is Gush Katif. Tomorrow it could be Gush Etzion, where I live," she said, referring to a major West Bank settlement bloc near Jerusalem.
On television, Israelis saw close-up the psychological battle of attrition being waged by the anti-withdrawal activists against the security forces. The video images became routine but distressing for many Israelis to watch - protesters swathed in orange approaching individual soldiers and police, asking them if they were ashamed to be carrying out the government's orders. "A Jew does not expel a Jew," they said, repeating the dramatic words of 19-year-old Cpl. Avi Bieber that became the slogan of the pro-settler movement.
A soldier in Kfar Maimon, angered by the constant repetition of the anti-withdrawal mantra, reportedly said, "A Jew doesn't make another Jew stay over in the army on Shabbat, either."
In another sign of discontent with the same settler slogan, a new bumper sticker was recently distributed: "A Jew does not expel a Jew, he just moves him a little bit."
Michael Feige, a sociologist at the Ben-Gurion Research Institute who studies Israeli identity, says the country's population can be divided into three distinct groups on the withdrawal issue: the national religious community, their supporters, and the majority of Israelis, whose politics are to the center or left.
For the national religious, "this is a great tragedy and a dramatic event in Israeli history," Feige says. Their supporters - mostly people who live in development towns and other religious Israelis - are more passive in their protests, even though they agree that the Gaza pullout is a major event that should be halted, he says.
"The rest of Israeli society sees it as a dramatic reality show occurring in front of them," he says.
In her home in Givatayim, a leafy Tel Aviv suburb, Anita Noam, 79, says she has sympathy for the settlers who will have to leave their homes but is alarmed by some of the verbal and physical violence that has accompanied their protests.
"I fear this could lead to civil war," she says.
"I think of how many times I had to leave my home without a choice," says Noam, who was born in Trieste, Italy, and was forced to flee the approaching German army during World War II. During Israel's War of Independence, she was again forced to flee Jerusalem because of fighting there.
She says she wishes the settlers "just understood that there is no choice but to go if we are ever to have peace."
In the streets of Jerusalem, meanwhile, many Israelis are staunchly opposed to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plans for the withdrawal.
"I think it's unthinkable to give even a small portion of the Land of Israel away; only God has the right to do that," says an immigrant from Kyrgyzstan, in Central Asia, who would only give her first name, Marina. "Giving it away will not even help the situation. The Arabs will only ask for more."
At a sidewalk restaurant, two friends who work as taxi drivers argue over the issue.
"You know things are bad when you see Jews being forced to leave their homes. I want to see someone even try to evacuate an Arab from Jaffa," says Avitan Bota, 29.
Not only is the situation leading to division in the country, he adds, but it is giving the Arabs "a gift for free" that will enable them to "strike us from even closer."
His friend Gabriel Hadad, 44, counters: "I'm for disengagement if it means soldiers will stop being killed there. I hope the move will lead to better times and the tensions will dissipate as they did after we left Lebanon."
Up north, in Haifa, a retired teacher, Nurit Goldberg, 65, says it is impossible to avoid the feeling of tension in the country.
"I think we should not disengage without anything in return. I think the withdrawal will lead to more terror and a much worse situation," she says.
In contrast, Berta Hinden, 89, a Holocaust survivor from Latvia, sitting in her art-filled Tel Aviv apartment, says she sees hope in Israel’s leaving Gaza.
"As Jews we just want to live in peace and quiet already,” she says.
Community says farewell to Beth-El Rabbi David Ostrich as he takes new pulpit
A reluctant goodbye from one of Rabbi Ostrich's students and his mother
By Sandra Nathan-Moody
Deep South Jewish Voice
A popular saying is that people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. By any number of statements from members of Pensacola's Temple Beth El, Rabbi David Ostrich has touched their lives for a lifetime. Despite his departure to assume the pulpit at Brit Shalom in State College, Pa., he will leave behind an esteemed legacy.
Starting Aug. 1, Rabbi Leonard Zukrow will succeed Ostrich in Pensacola.
Florida's oldest congregation honored and bade farewell to their rabbi of 15 years on June 24. Not only Beth El congregants, but numerous members of Pensacola's broader community, filled the historic sanctuary.
Ostrich's many accomplishments and contributions during the past 15 years have been well recognized in articles, farewell gatherings and honorary celebrations. In a recent editorial in the Pensacola News Journal, Opinion Editor Carl Wernicke wrote: "I count Rabbi David Ostrich as one I have been honored to meet along the way. His move to Pennsylvania will leave this community just a little less vibrant than it was."
Beverly Patterson, spokesperson for Suter Elementary School, said: "Our PTA is sponsoring the Rabbi Ostrich Community Spirit Award, which will be presented, along with $100, to a deserving fifth-grade student every year to be used in a community service project. We just wanted to choose an appropriate tribute to celebrate Rabbi Ostrich's contributions to the schools and community. We felt that he would like knowing that an enthusiastic interest in taking personal action was stirred within our students and will continue in his name."
Ostrich was raised in a small Jewish community in Lafayette, La. - so small, in fact, that the congregation had no rabbi until Ostrich was 12 years old. Ostrich credits that rabbi, straight from Germany, for awakening a deep connection to the antiquity of Jewish tradition.
From that point, Ostrich pursued and gained an impressive Jewish education, which included Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Before coming to Beth El in 1990, Ostrich held the pulpit at Temple Mickve Israel in Savannah, Ga.
Hardly a cloistered academic cleric, Ostrich served on the Mayor's Task Force on Abortion-Related Violence and Community Values, as chairman of Escambia/Pensacola Human Relations Commission, as president of the Pensacola Ministerial Association and was an active member in the Rotary Club.
Ostrich's courses on Judaism and Business Ethics at the University of West Florida and at Pensacola Junior College were favorites among students.
Appearing on public-access shows, "The Moral Side of the News" and "Religion for the Public Square," a large audience was favorably affected by his perceptive insight and quick wit. He was a much sought-after speaker for area schools, churches and colleges.
At the conclusion of Ostrich's farewell service, he patiently stood by the exit door, and spoke with each person who filed out. From the long-winding line of well-wishers, accolades were bestowed, punctuated with heartfelt sentiments of loss, and fond and cheerful reminiscences were shared.
The women of the Beth El Sisterhood had assembled an elegant display of home-made desserts for the expected large oneg crowd following the service. The spread included a hand-braided Challah, baked especially for Rabbi Ostrich, by F. Scott Moody.
Beth El President Martin Lewis welcomed everyone and conducted a presentation ceremony for Rabbi Ostrich. Lewis said "You have made a mark on Temple Beth El and the community, and have fostered Jewish enlightenment in the South. Temple Beth El is proud that you and your family are part of our rich history. Frankly, 'thank you' is not enough to say when every one
here has felt your profound sense of God and community."
With that, Beth El Vice President Joseph Schlesinger unveiled a framed painting by artist Bruce David, entitled "Reflections of the Soul."
Lewis described several features in the vivid pictorial representation which related directly to the congregation's affection for Rabbi Ostrich. "The artist designed this composition to illuminate the essence of many of Judaism's foremost qualities. The hands, Rabbi, remind us of you reciting the priestly blessing, May the Lord bless you and keep you, and give you peace."
Lewis referenced the Torah, depicted in the painting as The Tree of Life: "You, yourself, have followed the Torah. You have taught us to follow by your example of performing good deeds."
Pointing to the artist's interpretation of the Eternal Flame, Lewis quoted from Proverbs: "The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord."
"Your spirit, Rabbi, has illuminated ours lives for the better. We thank you and wish you and your family every blessing for the future," Lewis said.
The fostering of Jewish enlightenment was not exclusive to Pensacola's human population. The canine population benefited as well. Ann Bollens, president of Emerald Coast Greyhound Rescue, recalled the organization's long relationship with the Ostrich family.
"The Ostriches shared the love that filled their home by adopting and fostering retired Greyhound racing dogs until the dogs could be placed in permanent homes. The Ostrich family opened my eyes to what living a Jewish life is all about. In this case, the Jewish tradition of being kind to all creatures."
Wendi Ochs, Beth El Religious School supervisor, said Rabbi Ostrich helped create the opportunity for the congregation to participate in the new religious school curriculum project by the Jackson-based Institute for Southern Jewish Life. "We would not have had the opportunity to participate... had it not been for Rabbi Ostrich. Northwest Florida was not included in the limited regions designated eligible for participation. Nonetheless, ISJL President Macy Hart waived that obstacle - because of his personal knowledge from Ostrich's work at the Henry S. Jacobs Camp.
Linda Armacost, a Beth El board member, said "Rabbi Ostrich's influence has made Judaism the center of my life."
Beth El Bulletin Editor Pat Langnau said, "I am very sad that we were unable to keep Rabbi Ostrich here; he is the reason I have a religion today."
In Rabbi Ostrich's report to the annual congregational meeting, he stated that the small congregation at Brit Shalom is much like that of Beth El. It offers exciting possibilities and some interesting challenges, he noted. He closed with an invitation - "If any of you are ever in Central Pennsylvania, please stop in for services. It'll be a different address, but the same God and the same Judaism."
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