The Bulletin: Summer 2004

     Dear friends,
      Even knowing that it is always difficult to write a timely article for the bulletin, since events of our world change so rapidly, I am still going to share some thoughts on the Torah portion of last week (Emor) that I shared with the congregation at the time. You will be reading this six or eight weeks later and I am not sure how relevant these thoughts will be, but I share them anyway!
      In the Torah portion, one of the things we read was what happens when the priest is defiled. His was the responsibility to offer the sacrifices on behalf of the people, but when he became defiled 每 as through contact with a dead body 每 he needed to become purified before he could resume his duties.
      Just a few days ago I had attended a district assembly for our Rotary Club District in Jamaica. At the opening ceremony they had the presentation of the flags, since our district includes ten different countries. They played each country's national anthem and when "The Star Spangled Banner" was played, my eyes welled up with tears and I was filled with emotion. For the past three days I had seen the photographs 每 over and over again 每 of American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners. As the music filled my ears and the chills ran down my spine, I knew how many people now hated that song, hated us, because of what a few people had done! I was embarrassed and ashamed.
      As I sat down to prepare for the Shabbat service, I thought about that experience with the posting of the colors in Jamaica and the priests who had become defiled and I wondered what kind of purification we needed before we 每 Americans 每 could once again resume a position of moral leadership and respect.
      Though it was, hopefully, only a few people committing these atrocities, the reputation and respect of all Americans is tarnished. The average person in the Middle East is fed information and shown pictures. No amount of words and explanation will lesson the "guilt by association" which many will develop towards America and all Americans. It may not be right; it may not be fair; but it is true. All Americans will be tainted in the eyes of some because of the action of a few. Even before finishing this article, I've already read of a barbarian act of retribution against an innocent American.
      It was exactly 350 years ago this September (the 23rd, 1654) when the first Jews arrived in North America and were told by Peter Stuyvesant that they were not welcome and had to leave. They petitioned the Dutch West India Company and Stuyvesant was told that the Jews were to be allowed to stay, provided they didn*t become a burden to the community. That was not a problem for us. We already knew our obligations to each other and to the community: Kol Yisrael arevim zeh lazeh. For good or for evil, each of us is responsible for the other.
      We know that. We beam with pride when Jews are honored with Nobel prizes, discover cures for disease and honored by their schools; and we shrink with embarrassment when Jews are involved in illegal activities in the financial world or the criminal world, for we know - not only what the world must be thinking 每 but that Kol Yisrael arevim zeh lazeh - all Jews are responsible for each other, whether we do right or wrong.
      And we are. That's why we form and support synagogues 每 because we are responsible for the education of all of the children and the maintenance of a House of Prayer in our community. That*s why we created the concept of a United Way (call it UJA or UJC or Federation) and support the annual fund-raising drive 每 because we are responsible, each for the other.
      As the conflict in Iraq, the tensions between Israel and its neighbors, the battle against terrorism and the security surrounding the Olympic Games draws our attention all summer long, may we find the way to live our lives in as normal a way as possible as we labor to be responsible for each other 每 at least in our own communities 每 as neighbors friends and communities.
      I wish all of you a restful and enjoyable summer.
      Arthur F Starr, Rabbi
     Publication of new prayerbook provides unique opportunity for our Synagogue.
      The Central Conference of American Rabbis is publishing a new prayerbook for Shabbat and Festivals, Mishkan Tefila. It will replace Gates of Prayer (the blue prayerbook), originally published in 1975. It is due out in the fall of 2005. We were one of the congregations that tested the book last fall, using it for several weeks. It will be the prayerbook of the Reform movement for the next generation of Jews in North America (and elsewhere).
      We have a unique opportunity to purchase the prayerbook at its pre-publication discount and, since we are purchasing enough copies, include a dedication page printed in the book! This will not be a pasted dedication plaque on the inside cover of a book, but will be in every book we order at this time.
      We have agreed to purchase the book in advance and include the dedication page. If you would like to participate in this dedication, please send a check for $500 and include the name as you would like it to appear on the dedication page 每 namely in honor or memory of a person or family. We are ordering enough copies for our use, replacement in the future for worn books, for sale in the Judaica Shop and a copy for each person who subscribes to the dedication page.
      If you attend services regularly or only occasionally when visiting the island, wouldn't it be nice to see your name or the name of a loved one in this book. Even if you don't pray with us, wouldn't it be nice knowing that your family or loved ones are remembered in our prayerbooks 每 to be used every week for the next 30 or so years.
      We must have your payment and information soon to be included in the book. Do it now, while you're thinking of it. Members, Chai members, supporters and friends 每 all are invited to participate.
     With two bar mitzvahs this school year and more coming up, the Religious School has been busy! In addition to studying Hebrew, our eight students studied Torah, Neviim (Prophets), Israel, and holidays.
     To end the year "sweetly" we invited parents to join us for the last activity. The class took a "virtual" tour of Israel, with each student describing a city or region in Israel and mapping out our tour on a large map of Israel. But that's not all. After mapping out the tour on the chalkboard, we mapped out our tour on a huge brownie in the shape of Israel. Kit Kats for the skyscrapers in Tel Aviv, blue M&Ms to fill in the Kineret (Sea of Galilee), orange slices for the kibbutzim in the Negev, gummy worms for the coral reef in Eilat, and of course gold covered Rollos for the golden city of Jerusalem! Israel never tasted so good!
      A special thank you to Herb Horwitz, Nathan Sell and Rabbi Starr for the time and effort they put into being teachers this year, and to Rachel Rampino who finished her bar mitzvah one week and showed up at Religious school asking how she could help teach the next.
      If you're 5-13 years old, join us in September when we move Religious School to Saturday mornings at 8:30 a.m. at the Synagogue to be followed by Shabbat services. Have a great summer, keep studying your Hebrew, and see you next year!
     Tanya Hess
     Religious School Teacher and Administrator
     Kol ha'kavod to Dimitri Ogden and Dave Knox for joining our class for a Hebrew lesson. The students learned that lahatutan means juggler, kesem means magic, balon means balloon and more as our visitors performed amazing magical feats for our class. Toda raba means thank you very much, Dimitri and Dave!
     For those who like to plan ahead: Rosh Hashanah begins Wednesday evening, September 15th, and Yom Kippur begins Friday evening, September 24th.
     Our sincere apologies to all Chai members who received incorrect billing in the month of May. Please let us know who you are - by phone: 340-774-4312, e mail:
     Please scour your closets, cabinets
     for items for our Antiques Auction

      Planning for the 2005 Antiques, Art & Collectibles Auction is already under way but we need help from our congregants, Chai members and friends.
     Please go through your closets, cabinets and storage areas to find items that you haven't used in years but that would be appropriate for our sale tables. At this point we have virtually nothing for our sale tables. And while we have plenty of time 每 the auction is Feb. 5, 2005 每 the sooner we get going, the better!
     Here are the kinds of items we're looking for:
     -- China plates, bowls, platters, etc.
     -- Crystal goblets, glasses, decanters, perfume bottles, etc
     -- Vases of all kinds.
     -- Fine linens 每 tablecloths, napkins, placemats, runners.
     -- Silver items of any kind, including silver plate.
     -- Glass or porcelain tchotchkes -- or any other decorative tchotchkes.
     -- Nice picture frames.
     -- Nice baskets.
     -- Old jewelry, real or costume.
     -- Fine kitchen items like Dansk or Le Creuset (but not battered pots, pans or utensils).
     -- Original artwork.
     If you have any questions, call Penny Feuerzeig at 774-9316 or Ella Ogden at 774-4312. They can tell you whether items are appropriate or not. They can also arrange for pickup. And if you're sending items from the states (thank you to those Chai members who have done just that!!), we will happily pay for shipping.
     Remember, all donations are tax-deductible. Just send us a list of donated items with their value and we will write you a tax letter for your files.
      Many thanks!
     Penny Feuerzeig, Auction Coordinator
     Archie Ogden (Mr. Wonderful)
     is 2004 Person of the Year

      Archie Ogden - a person whose contributions to the Synagogue are myriad - was named Sisterhood's 2004 Person of the Year at a special Erev Shabbat service April 23.
     The service, led by Sisterhood members and former Persons of the Year, culminated with the presentation to one of the most likeable, helpful and versatile members of our Congregation.
      And Archie actually seemed to be surprised, which means Ella did a good job of keeping his selection a secret! Happily, Dimitri was on hand too to enjoy seeing his dad honored.
      Penny and Hank Feuerzeig, both former recipients of the award, made the presentation. In it they extolled Archie's many virtues and contributions to the congregation 每 and the community 每 over the years. To see the complete text of their presentation, which contains a lot of previously unknown facts about Archie's eclectic personal history, please go to Our Congregation on this Web site.
     Sisterhood had a busy calendar planned for this year, and the month of April was no exception. We had two major events, the Sisterhood Annual Service (which is combined with the presentation of the Person of the Year award), and the Sisterhood Annual Meeting.
     Business first - our annual meeting was well attended, with a quorum of one-third of our members.
     We approved the budget for the coming year, allocated our charitable donations to Leo Baeck School in Israel and several organizations on St. Thomas, and took care of other business. The officers will remain in their positions for the coming year: Phebe Schwartz, President; Tanya Hess, Vice President; Ella Ogden, Treasurer; and Laurie Jesner, Secretary. And a committee is working on revising and updating our By-Laws.
     The Sisterhood Service was coordinated by Mina Orenstein, and included readings by the Sisterhood officers as well as all the previous Persons of the Year/Women of the Year. Hank and Penny Feuerzeig presented our 2004 Person of the Year award to Archie Ogden - from the enthusiastic applause, we could hear that everyone present felt this was an honor well-deserved. Iris Horwitz coordinated the Oneg with Helen Goldman, and it was one of those evening filled with a warm glow of happiness.
     Big thank yous to Mina, Hank, Penny, Iris, and Helen for making this event a reality. We always say that it's the people of the congregation who make the synagogue what it is, and this service and award demonstrate everyone's involvement and dedication.
     In early May, Sisterhood presented Iris with a gift thanking her for all her baking. If you don't know already, Iris quietly bakes the wonderful goodies for our Oneg Shabbats each week. So the next time you taste an especially wonderful cake or cookie at our Oneg, please let her know how delicious it was!
     We have special plans in the works for our final brunch before the summer hiatus, but are awaiting the details before contacting Sisterhood members. So wait for our next installment to find out our exciting activities. And, if this all sounds like something you'd like to be part of, please contact Ella or Phebe through the synagogue - our new program year begins in September.
     Don't forget to renew your Sisterhood membership!
     Phebe Schwartz, Sisterhood President
     Warm welcome to our new members: Joe Ingram; Jonathan Levy; Malachai and Pamela McCormick and their baby boy Logan. Bruchim Habaim!
     Todah Rabah - Thank You Very Much - to: Iris Horwitz, on a weekly basis, for all the delicious cakes and cookies that she bakes for each Oneg, and for all the help she gives whenever needed; to Agnes Rampino and Alexandra Laing for taking charge of the Shabbaton in St. John; and to each one who helped with the reception and the hosting of the 350th Anniversary Jewish Heritage cruise.
     Kol Hakavod to: Penny and Hank Feuerzeig on being honored by the Chamber of Commerce for their numerous contributions to the U.S. Virgin Islands; Religious School student Chelsea Laing and Religious School Student Teacher Rachel Rampino who received the honor of being inducted into the Antilles School Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society; Archie Ogden for receiving the Person of the Year award from the Sisterhood.
     Mazel Tov goes to: the Blackhall Family on the engagement of Justin Blackhall to Victoriya Portnov; Feuerzeig Family on the engagement of Darcy Feuerzeig to Aaron Coty; Jesner Family on the engagement of Spencer Jesner to Lisa Rothman; the Goldman family on the marriage of Will Goldman and Stacy Ellyn.
     We have transcribed snippets of major events of the Bicentennial year onto a DVD. If you would like to have a memento from that spectacular year, please contact the Synagogue office at 340-774-4312.