The Bulletin: September/October/November 1999
FROM THE CANTOR
The Creation story is probably the most well known of all Biblical stories. Most of us learned it as children but may have never studied it again in adulthood. We may be surprised by the multiple levels of meaning in the story.
The first surprise may be that there are really two creation stories. The two differ in literary style as well as content: for example, in chapter 1, animals are created before humans, while in chapter 2, this order is reversed. Humanity begins with male and female in chapter 1, while in chapter 2 it begins with male only. These differences have been attributed to two different sources or writers; others explain them by calling chapter 1 the ideal and chapter 2 the actual creation.
The text has been mis-interpreted by many because of inaccurate translation. The great poet Bialik once said that reading Torah in a language other than Hebrew is like kissing a bride through her veil. Many layers of veils have become encrusted on this particular parasha. In 1:26, "And God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,'" the word "Adam," translated both as "man" and the name Adam, is etymologically related to "adama," earth, and in no way is related to the English word "man." A more correct translation would be "earthling," Once the connection between Adam and adama is understood, we can see that this phrase expresses the essence of human life as a connection to earth. At the time this was written, arable land was what made life possible; for us today, the ecology movement, based on the need to listen to and respect the earth, can be bolstered by this famous but incorrectly translated Biblical verse.
Several verses later, in 2:7, an entirely different account is offered: "The Lord God formed man from the dust of the earth. He blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being." Several verses later, God decides to make a "helper" for Adam, so he puts him into a deep sleep and fashions one of his ribs into a woman. This passage shows that we all came from the same "earthling," the same flesh--yet another affirmation of equality.
When God accuses them both of eating from the Tree of Knowledge, Adam immediately blames Eve, and she in turn blames the serpent. So neither is mature enough to assume responsibility for their actions, and for that
reason, they must be expelled and go into the real world to learn responsibility.
When Cain asks the famous rhetorical question of God, "Am I my brother's keeper?" he is showing the same lack of responsibility, trying to hide and cover up his act much as his parents had done. Interestingly enough, God does not reply to this question, and it has been left hanging in all the millennia since. The implied answer to Cain's question is, of course, yes. We must constantly remind ourselves that we all are our brothers' keepers, because
sibling rivalry is ingrained in any family's dynamic. And we can extend this lesson to humanity itself. This story reminds us that all murders are fratricide within the human family, because we are all brothers and responsible for one another.
Many have raised the question, why was Cain's offering was rejected by God. This question has preoccupied commentators for centuries. One reason can be inferred from the descriptions of the offerings: Abel gives the choicest
of his flock, while Cain simply gives fruit from the soil. This implies that Cain's act of giving was not as generous or openhearted as Abel's. The principle lesson to be learned here is fundamental to Judaism: the act of worship must be genuine devotion of the heart. Another lesson we can glean is that when we give, we should not always expect to get something in return. It is hard to deny that God is unfair and partial in this story, which teaches yet another lesson: in real life, the apportioning of love is neither fair nor rational. Some people inspire more love and affection than others.
Lashing out in anger will not solve anything.
The interesting postlude to this story is that Cain's family, in exile, is said to have created civilization: they build cities, create the first musical instruments, made bronze and iron tools. The Bible is saying that civilization is built as well as destroyed by anger and discontent. Human energy can erupt in creativity as well as in uncontrolled hatred and violence. The secret is to learn to master and channel the powers in our nature. Instead of using it like Cain, to destroy, we can deflect it and use it as a source of creation and blessing. We all have the power to do both, and the choice is ours to make.
The search for a Rabbi continues with the members of the Rabbinic Search Committee hard at work. Most are optimistic that its efforts will not be in vain and that a new Rabbi for the coming year will be discovered soon.
With the assistance of visiting Rabbi Stacy Bergman, the Committee is updating the application submitted to the Union American Hebrew Congregations ("UAHC") and has prepared a new cover page highlighting the virtues of the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas and our beautiful Synagogue.
Mina Orenstein, Marilyn Blackhall, Keith Husbands, Katina Coulianos, Donald Pomeranz, Howard Kupperman, Margaret Cohen and Kimberly Ellick, the Committee Members, continue to provide valuable assistance and guidance as we strive to find a replacement for Rabbi Steve Schafer.
I am pleased to report that the fundraising for our Restoration is going along well. At this point we have pledged about one third of our goal of $320,000. Obviously we still have a long way to go but I am encouraged by the remarks that I have received by contributors and their enthusiasm towards the project. I hope you all read the comments of Larry Kaufman enclosed in the bulletin because they reflect the feelings of many people who have visited our Synagogue over the years. If you have not contributed yet, or are thinking of doing so please don't hesitate. We truly need all of the help we can get. If any of you should have any connections to a foundation that might have an interest in this Restoration please let me know.
Restoration Campaign Committee
FROM OUR CHAI MEMBERS
I must tell you of the wonderful experience that resulted from our attendance at services this past December. I am an attorney. In June, 1982, one of my former clients, a group that invested in island property around the world, offered me the use a marvelous, secluded plantation house owned by the group, which overlooked Frenchman's Bay. I gladly accepted and took my wife to be. While we were in St. Thomas this past December, we tried to find the property, but were unable to do so. Those of whom we inquired did not know of it.
At the Oneg, my wife Helane, was chatting with a woman. During the conversation, Helane told of her visit in 1982. The woman was dumbfounded - she and her husband now own the property! They invited us for a lunch and a swim the following day. We thoroughly enjoyed their hospitality and company. Also, it was a marvelous lesson for our 14 year old son: Regardless of where one ventures in this world, we always are a part 0f the Jewish community.
We thank you.
Arthur D. Rheingold
ANTIQUES, ART & COLLECTIBLES AUCTION
We thought our members and Chai members would be interested in the press release that we've sent to off-island media about the upcoming Antiques, Art & Collectibles Auction on Dec. 12 at the Old Stone Farmhouse. We hope to get some mention in the major antiques magazines, and have placed small classified ads in their December issues. We will also send a press release to the Jewish press in the states.
We are now in the throes of planning for this major fundraising event, and have an excellent committee working hard to pull it off. We will need lots of volunteers in the final days leading up to the auction -- and especially for the day of the auction. So, be prepared! If you don't volunteer, we will probably volunteer you!
One other thing: If you have any items that you would like to donate -- antiques, original art or fine collectibles -- please call me at 774-9316 and I will arrange for pickup. Meanwhile, talk up the auction to your friends so we have lots of people there to buy the wonderful items we're gathering.
The Caribbean island of St. Thomas will host its first-ever auction of antique West Indian furniture, gallery-quality art, and decoratives when the historic Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas holds its ANTIQUES, ART AND COLLECTIBLES AUCTION on Sunday, Dec. 12, 1999, at the Old Stone Farmhouse at Mahogany Run. The auction preview begins at 10:30 a.m., followed by the auction at 1 p.m. Tepper Galleries of New York will serve as auctioneers.
The small, 203-year-old congregation - second oldest in the Western Hemisphere to Curacao - is holding the unique fund-raiser to help defray the rising cost of keeping its Synagogue open to the public. The 166-year-old Synagogue building, which is now undergoing a major restoration, has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Among the items to be auctioned will be:
A 48-inch round pedestal table and a four-poster bed with rams' head headboard from the Danish West Indies, a French West Indian armoire, a Danish West Indian solid mahogany armoire with fancy figured solid-paneled doors, and dozens of other West Indian antiques, including a shoe rack, chairs, candlestands and rockers.
Nearly 50 pieces from the MAPes MONDe collection, including an original double-sided drawing from Camille Pissarro's sketchpad; old Virgin Islands and Caribbean maps, pictorials, documents, books and newspaper articles; and four Luca Palermo watercolors.
An original acrylic sculpture by noted U.S. artist Yankel Ginzberg, who once lived in St. Thomas.
Works of art by many of the Virgin Islands' leading artists, including Don Dahlke, Eric Winter, Shansi Miller, Eunice Summer, Diane Kreiner, Paul Youngblood, Elroy Simmonds and Janet Cook-Rutnik.
Antiques aficionados from other Caribbean islands and the U.S. mainland are expected to fly to St. Thomas that weekend for the auction.
YAHRZEIT AND BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE
Thank you all who have taken part in the Book of Remembrance. We have mailed the Book to those who requested one. We apologize for any errors. Please let us know what they are (by mail, fax, or e-mail) and we will correct them immediately.
We would like to clear up a misunderstanding about inclusion in the Book of Remembrance. Inclusion is not one of the privileges of membership. For a small donation, anyone (member or not) can have the names of his/her departed loved ones inserted in the book. These additional donations are a great help in maintaining our religious and educational programs.
On the other hand, if you will give us the names, we will automatically remember the Yahrzeits of any member whose annual dues are at least Double Chai ($36.00). At each Erev Shabbat service, we remember the names of those who departed during the preceding week (Friday to Thursday) in years past. We also publish the names in our Bulletin. We will remember the Yahrzeits according to either the Hebrew or Gregorian calendars. You just need to let us know which you prefer.
Unfortunately, for reasons beyond our control, we temporarily stopped the program of reminding you of your Yahrzeits. We will resume it shortly. Please let us know if you do not want to be reminded.
Thank you for your participation in all our programs, for your donations, and all your comments.
Our e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use it to send us your corrections and comments.
Ad Meah V'esreem - Till 120!!!
Happy Birthday - Many Happy Returns!!!
09/05 Rabbi Stanley Relkin
09/05 Elaine Robles
09/06 Jim Tunick
09/16 Abe Tarapani
09/23 Rabbi Stephen Schafer
09/24 Arielle Ebenholtz
09/24 Elijah Jacobs-Matthew
09/24 Marilyn Kreke
09/25 Marc Blazar
09/27 Adam Blazar
09/29 Abraham Tarapani
10/02 Jackie Jeffries
10/02 Elissa Runyon
10/03 Joan King
10/03 Gary Rosenthal
10/04 Cal Bastian
10/04 Terry Buder
10/09 Agnes Rampino
10/14 Jeannette Bastian
10/18 Andrea Weibel
10/20 Franzi Coulianos
10/23 Wendy Tarapani
10/24 Aviva Avigdor
10/24 Isidor Paiewonsky
10/26 Susan Miller
10/29 Doug Sell
10/30 Lee Steiner
11/01 Mark Newman
11/05 Dick Golden
11/08 Jared Falek
11/25 Lane Sell
11/26 Murray King
11/26 Jane Kupperman
11/29 GG Steiner
FROM RABBI STEPHEN SCHAFER
A special prayer on the occasion of Isidor Paiewonsky's 90th birthday, celebrated at a special service on the 22nd of October.
Judaism has very little to say about the length of life. Life is paramount and in Jewish tradition, everyone is obligated to use that life for creativity, for enjoyment, for helping the community grow and survive, and to accomplish some portion of tikun olam, perfecting the world. Judaism is not greatly concerned with measuring time in terms of years. It measures rather the meaning of the lives lived. But Isidor and Charlotte certainly are blessed with both - long life and also living well in terms of the service to humankind which is required of Judaism. We are blessed with their leadership, with their creativity, their kindness, their depth, their friendship, their generosity, and perhaps most of all, the example that they set for us to make life meaningful and pleasant. The number of years one lives, when all is said and done, should not come high in the hierarchy of important things. What is important is the way one uses the life. And if we could all emulate a measure of Isidor's and Charlotte's lives, we would be truly blessed. May God continue to bless them, and to bless us with their presence. And let us all say together our traditional Sheheheyanu:
Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha'olam, sheheheyanu, v'kiymanu, v'higianu lazman hazeh.
A very special Happy Birthday to Isidor Paiewonsky On his 90th Birthday!
09/01 Marianne & Marc Blazar
09/17 Marilyn & George Blackhall
09/19 Susan & Butch Miller
09/28 Judee & Gary Rosenthal
10/02 Elissa & Jerry Runyon
10/09 Agnes and Steve Rampino
10/12 Charlotte & Isidor Paiewonsky
10/16 Penny & Monty Abrams
10/18 Jeannette & Cal Bastian
10/26 Doris & Donald Pomeranz
11/26 Jane & Howard Kupperman
11/28 Pamela & Frank Benison
Thank you very much to:
Sean Krivatch for the loan of the mahogany cupboard for our temporary Holy Ark; Katina Coulianos for setting Lilienfeld House so beautifully as our temporary sanctuary for the High Holy Days; Bettina Shock, Phebe Schwartz and Debby Sottak for help with the Book of Remembrance; Marilyn Blackhall, Katina Coulianos and Donald Pomeranz for planning and leading our High Holy Services; Kimberly Ellick and Quality Food for help with the Break the Fast; Bettina Shock for help with mailing the Restoration Campaign brochures; Sisterhood for sponsoring Shabbat Dinner.
Cemetery Fund: Clara Moron
General Fund: Jared Falek in memory of Judge Almeric L. Christian; Aviva Avigdor in thanks to all her friends for sitting with her during the Shiva for her brother; Carol Weinberger in honor of Monty and Panny Abrams' anniversary; The Ogden Family in honor of Monty and Penny Abrams' anniversary; the Ogden Family in honor of Marilyn and George Blackhall's anniversary; Irving B. Morof; Dr. and Mrs. Seymour B. Jeffries in memory of Arthur A. Selzer, Pauline Selzer, David Jeffries, and Ann Jeffries; David A. Robins; Mr. and Mrs. David Fogle in memory of Nesha Fogle, Sam Fogle, Esther Kipp, and Sam Kipp; Robert M. Mendelkorn in memory of Ben M. Mendelkorn; Steve Zimmerman in memory of Samuel Zimmerman; Trudie and Neil Prior in honor of Charlotte and Isidor Paiewonsky's anniversary, Isidor Paiewonsky's 90th birthday, and in memory of Helen Gruber; Nick and Nina Sintsov in honor of Isidor Paiewonsky's 90th birthday; Eddie M. Lakier; Cynthia Lubin and David Larsch; Betty Greenfeld in memory of her husband Norman; Jeanette Solway in memory of Franklin David Solway.
Mazon: Mina Orenstein in honor of Marilyn and George Blackhall's anniversary.
Religious School: David J. Rosenberg in memory of Sally Rosenberg and Sam Rosenberg.
Restoration Fund: Mikkie Belvedere; Moisey and Elenora Finkel; Emily and William Gindin; Michael and Marion Lustig; David and Nana Puritz; Robert B. Wolf; Loli and Joel Gross; Peter and Sheila Wunsh; Michael and Joyce Ackerman; Alan and Elaine Kolodkin; Phillis and David Gershator; Samuel and Helen Gordon; Mitzi and Harvey Henne; E.P. Hoffman; Harvey and Stephanie Isaacs; Alex and Lily Koron; Abe and Dorothy Kreitman; Isak and Golde Kubiliun; Rita Nahum; Myrtle M. Seno; Lois Shaevel; Bernard and Eleanor Shorr; Arnold and Elinor Simon; Sidney Smith; Spencer Witty in memory of Arthur Witty; Linda K. Wobeck; Brent and Stephanie Wolmer; Herbert and Sylvia Friedman; Warren and Jeanette Resen; David and Barbara Alter; Richard and Irving Krohn; David Caprita; Charles and Dorothy Chafetz; Pearl Buchen; Jason Ellick; Jack and Lydia Zakim; Jeannie Spielvogel in memory of Henry Spielvogel; Stephen and Lisa Solomon in memory of Jack Solomon; Ethel Solomon and Jesse Solomon; Daniel Locker; Stuart and Elaine Sonne; Judge and Mrs. Kupperman; Don and Ruth Lentnek; Rabbi Craig and Carol Ezring; Dr. and Richard Wolff; Alex and Lily Koron; Edwin and Sue Golden; Carol Schatten; Edgar & Ruth Wolf; Charlotte and Seymour Shakin in honor of Isidor Paiewonsky's 90ieth birthday; Kenneth and Christel Marks; Jared Falek in honor of his children Shoshanah, Jonah, Alexandra, and Abram; Franzi Coulianos; Penny and Monty Abrams; Stanley and Marion Wassinger; Jack and Connie Rosenberg; Hanan and Varda Rosbruch in honor of their son Ken; IDE Technologies Ltd., Israel and Ambient Technologies Inc. USA; Michael Mallin in memory of Roslyn and Milton Mallin; Dr. Franklin and Sharon Spirn. Gilbert and Charlotte Liberman.
Nancy Jacobs Fund: Archie and Ella Ogden, Hank and Penny Feuerzeig in honor of Isidor Paiewonsky's 90th birthday
We thank you all.
Here are selections from the Fall 2005 Bulletin, including the Congregation's response to Hurricane Katrina.
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