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"Jails are always closed yet full, while temple are always open yet empty."
-- Chinese Proverb


"Martin Crane" is a character in the popular TV sitcom Frasier that ran from 1993 to 2004 on NBC; reruns can be seen on various TV outlets. Martin Crane - or "Marty" as he was often called - was the father of the series' eponymous character Frasier Crane and his brother Niles. The brothers were played by Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce respectively, and their father was played by John Mahoney. Supporting cast included Jane Leeves, who played Daphne Moon, Martin's live-in physical therapist; Peri Gilpin, who played Roz Doyle, Frasier's "experienced in the ways of life" producer.
Sadly, John Mahoney died a couple of weeks ago of a cancer that he had been fighting for several years. Reading his obituary and a recent interview with him, I learned about a remarkable man with a remarkable background. Thus, it seems fitting to call attention to the character he played so remarkably - and to glean a lesson from "Marty Crane," especially as we move from Purim into the Passover season. For those unfamiliar with Frasier, here is a brief summary. The series was a spinoff from the sitcom Cheers, and focuses on Dr. Frasier Crane, a Harvard (and Oxford!)-trained psychiatrist, recently divorced, who moves from Boston back to his hometown of Seattle to take a job as a "radio shrink." Moving back to Seattle results in Frasier's having to "re-tool" his relationship with his father Martin, an ex-cop who was shot in a holdup and left permanently disabled. As soon as Frasier returns to Seattle, circumstances force his dad to move in with him. Both Frasier and his brother Niles are well-educated and erudite, knowledgeably enjoying the finer things in life. They are also pompous, elitist snobs. Martin, on the other hand, is a down-to-earth, street-smart, "regular" guy. The brothers enjoy fine wine and caviar; their father enjoys beer and pork rinds. The ongoing clash between these two life perspectives was often woven into the series' storylines.
Confession: my wife and I are HUGE Frasier fans. Watching these episodes is often our "comfort food" after a hard day. Like other Frasier fans, we believe that Frasier is some of the best work television has ever produced. The writing skillfully combined witty humor with poignant lessons about life's challenges and pursuits: the pursuit of love, the pursuit of family harmony, the pursuit of purposeful living, the pursuit of purposeful aging. At times, the storylines seemed to be sort of a midrash on the familiar verses from Ecclesiastes: To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.
Which brings me to Purim/Passover.
Purim is the holiday on which we create masquerades. It's fun, it's entertaining, and some folks put a lot of effort into creating their masquerades. But it's only one day a year. On the other hand, the characters of Frasier and Niles lived their lives keeping up their masquerades of pomposity and elitism - and not just for one day, but every day. Yes, occasionally there were moments of self-awareness, but these were fleeting. Hence, the show continued.
Of course, the ongoing irony throughout the series was this: although both Frasier and Niles were the mental-health "professionals" - psychiatrists who should have been more aware of the self-masquerades they each perpetuated, it was their father - the proudly unsophisticated, "street smart" cop - who usually gave the best life wisdom. Responding to the (sometimes mocking) challenges of his two sons who insisted on remaining slaves to their masquerades, Marty Crane was sort of a "Moses": chiding and encouraging his boys to leave their Egypt and move toward the freedom of being authentic human beings.
John Mahoney played this "Moses" both with humor and pathos. An essential part of the ensemble, he gave the role an honesty and a sensitivity that added to the show's unique take on what it means to be human. And that unique take is why Frasier reruns continue to be watched.
John Mahoney/Marty Crane...R.I.P.


The 4th annual Temple Sholom Israeli Wine Tasting was held on February 24th. The evening was filled with delicious food, wonderful Israeli wines, and great conversation. With an attendance of over 80 people, it was a great success, both as a fund-raiser as well as a friend-raiser. Everyone enjoyed tasting 6 different wines from Israel, each one specially paired with a gourmet appetizer. All of the extra wine that was available quickly sold out.
We would like to thank Adam and Mary Jo Leventhal for all of their hard work and extensive time that goes into making this event so special. Also, we would like to thank Alyse Leventhal, Amy Leventhal, Troy Nave, Maggie Yontz, Shayne Leventhal, Michelle Grodner, and Kathleen Leonard for all of their help. A big thank you to the temple members who attended. We hope to see more of you next year!


In honor of the yahrzeit for my husband Ray from Char Schiff

For pulpit use as designated by Cantor and Rabbi from Bill and Priscilla Dixon


MARCH 2: Lilly Broock, Pauline H. Broock, Henry Gardner, Etta M. Herron, Leah G. Klein, Harriett Lurie Levine (mother of Jeff), Leonard Levy, Paul Dulaney (father of Paulette Grodner), Bruce Krane, Julius (Jules) Levy

MARCH 9: Jacob Arnovitz, Charles Flack (father of Sanford), Samuel Kossoff, Sol (Babe) Padlow, Sarah Steingart, Charles Zitsman, Eunice Poliakoff Draisen (mother of Bernice Goldman), Antonio Espinoza (father of Rose Weiss), Isidore Farber, Tim R. Flack (brother of Sanford), Sharon Friedman

MARCH 16: Sam Broock, Abe Gardner, Seymour Romanoff, Jennie Schneider, Jennie W. Gold Ullman, Bessie Lurie, Marie Buerki Rider, Charlotte Turyn (mother of Larry)

MARCH 23: Celia Barnett, Julius Endelman, Mildred Frand Fine, Emilie Frankenstein, Sam Friedman (father of Jay), Joseph S. Meyer, Zedia Mae Fludd, Max Goldman (father of Lloyd), Michael Miller, Eric B. Stein, M.D. (brother of Leslie Buerki)

MARCH 30: Milton N. Bernstein, Anne Klein, Leon Maybruck, Hazel G. Meyer, Andrew Raoul Nathan, David Mario Nathan, Paul Nathan, Charlotte M. Salzer, Mary Schuman, Annabelle Sachs Smith, Fanny Soble, Wolf Zitsman, Ethel Cohn, Hyman Draisen (father of Bernice Goldman), Sylvia Harton Wolf (mother of Fran Rickenbach)

APRIL 6: Samuel Altschul, Fannie Dagan, Ben Goldman, Cecile Leider Greenland (stepmother of Jay), Goldie Pommer, Louis A. Shatsky, Celia Roth Travis, Ida P. Zitsman, Helen Amdur, Ben Irwin (father of Stephanie Paugh), Blanche Stillpass (mother of Phyllis Nedelman)