DECEMBER 2017~ RABBI'S CORNER ~
AS TIME GOES BY...
KISLEV / TEVET 5778
This past Thanksgiving marked the 75th anniversary of the premier of the film Casablanca. Robert Garnett, in his piece "We'll Always Have Casablanca" (Wall Street Journal,11/24/17) wrote that "(t)he Great American Novel may never be agreed on, and may not exist, but there's little doubt about the Great American Movie." Mr. Garnett entertains the possibility that Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane, and The Wizard of Oz may be plausible challengers, but concludes that Casablanca. stands alone. Why?
Responding to Mr. Garnett's piece, one reader commented: "Perhaps one reason the movie continues to resonate is that, in the midst of overwhelming evil and corruption, the wounded cynical hero actually chooses to risk everything for the good."
Perhaps it's because I know that with Thanksgiving coming and going, Hannukah is only a couple of weeks away. But this reader's comment took me to thinking about the story of Hannukah. The seminal event leading to the creation of Hannukah was the bold choice of Mattathias the Priest to forcefully prevent a fellow Jew's public act of apostasy - a choice also made in the midst of overwhelming evil and corruption that had seduced those Jews who had thrown in with Antiochus' plan to Hellenize his empire. As the Book of Maccabees relates, Mattathias "brought courage to decision" and slew the apostate. And so the rebellion began, culminating in the Maccabees' capture of Jerusalem from the Syrian forces and the re-dedication of the Temple.
At first glance, comparing the initial hero of the Hannukah story with Casablanca's protagonist, Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) seems laughable. The Book of the Maccabees tells us that the pious Mattathias and his sons were terribly distressed over the widespread apostasy occurring among the Jews of Jerusalem - relocating to the village of Modi'in, hoping to put themselves outside the reach and influence of the Hellenizers. On the other hand, Rick Blaine initially is presented as a cynical, somewhat shady nightclub owner who doesn't much care that the world seems to inevitably be falling to Nazi rule. When he is warned by the chief Vichy official, Capt. Renault (Claude Rains), not to assist the wanted Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), he says, "I stick my neck out for nobody."
Yet, in the course of the film, we learn that Rick has indeed stuck his neck out in the recent past. By the end of the film, he risks everything, "bringing courage to decision" in order to help save the world - although he DOES lose the love of his life (Ingrid Bergman), which makes his decision all the more noble.
This is the definition of heroism - bringing "courage to decision." But...what if Mattathias had chosen to act like the Rick Blaine we meet at the beginning of Casablanca Casablanca.? What if cynicism and not courage had been the response of Mattathias? What if his choice had been to "stick his neck out for nobody" and just stand back as his fellow Jews continued to go down the path of apostasy?
The answer seems clear: if Mattathias had not acted with righteous zeal and killed the apostate, thus triggering the Maccabean revolt - the state-sponsored, aggressive spread of Hellenism would have succeeded in the Land of Israel, and Judaism probably would have left the stage of history: no more Judaism, and thus no possibility of Christianity or Islam arising centuries later.
Although Hannukah is the first Jewish holiday that celebrates events deriving from a military victory, it is not the victory itself that is celebrated, but rather the cause that sparked the struggle itself - energized by "bringing courage to decision." That is why the Haftarah read on the Shabbat of Hannukah contains these words: "'Not by might, not by power, but by My spirit' says the Lord of Hosts." (Zechariah 4:6)
Thankfully, we Jews today don't face a widespread attempt to stamp out our religion, as did our ancestors in the time of Mattathias. To be sure, the values of the outside culture still pose challenges, but the threat to Judaisms perpetuation is more internal: if, G-d forbid, Judaism doesn't survive, it will not be because of aggressive outside forces, but because of our own decision to cease being Jews.
May this Hannukah see each of us re-dedicating ourselves to "bringing courage to decision," insuring that the light that Judaism has brought to the world will not be extinguished by us. May that light continue to shine...as time goes by.
-- Rabbi Cary Kozberg
ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL
December 3, 10:00 to Noon
Come to the Temple for conversation, bagels, coffee, and an assortment of Sunday newspapers to read and talk over. It's the kickoff of what may become a monthly "Adult Sunday School." It's not a school, but a relaxed time for schmoozing - and maybe in months to come, some classes or other fun activities. The date is Sunday, December 3, from 10:00 to noon. No reservations required - just come and meet everyone, relax, read the paper, eat and drink.
Questions? Contact Steve and Susie Broidy.
END OF YEAR GIVING
As we near year-end, many of us think of what we could do to help make the new year a better one. If you are considering making year-end charitable donations, please consider Temple Sholom. It is our responsibility to provide for the future of the Jewish community through the weekly Shabbat services and events that are held throughout the year.
MESSAGE FOR THE SEASON
As Hannukah approaches, we think of age-old customs, such as eating latkes, playing dreidel, giving gifts and gelt, and lighting the menorah each day for eight days. Hannukah is a celebration of the victorious Maccabees over the Syrians and the re-dedication of the Temple. It is the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days. So, as you light the candles and say the blessings, may you and your family experience the warmth and wonder of this Festival of Lights.
Maxine Leventhal recently celebrated her 95th birthday at Mills Park Hotel with her children, Todd Leventhal and Fern Leventhal-Cardeli. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren from Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, and Maryland also attended the festivities. Maxine is a Friends Care resident.
~ SPOTLIGHT ON KATHLEEN LEONARD ~
Our Temple Bulletin Spotlight this month shines on Kathleen Leonard, who has been taking care of Temple Sholom and its members since 1994. Kathleen started working at Temple Sholom by saying that she would fill in for her predecessor for a short period of time, which luckily for us has turned into 23 years and still counting. We were smart enough to never look for her replacement while she was "filling in."
Kathleen has lived in Springfield her entire life and graduated from Catholic Central High School in 1967. While attending Central, she was part of their choir for several years. Shortly after graduating high school she took a job with Olan Mills, which lasted for over 36 years until the plant was closed in 2002. Olan Mills remains in business today and is a large photography/portrait company that at one time had a large presence in Springfield.
While at Olan Mills, Kathleen worked in a variety of different departments, such as sorting of photographs and operating several different paper processing machines. Through her efforts and always looking for better ways to do things, she was soon able to operate two machines at the same time. She then became a group leader of the printing department for 5 years. Kathleen became a union steward and for 13 years was the union president. While at Olan Mills, she was very active in running their annual United Way campaign. Kathleen mentioned that it was during one of the United Way campaigns that she first met Fred Leventhal, who himself was always active in United Way campaigns.
After Olan Mills closed their Springfield operation, Kathleen took 16 months off from work before taking a job with Assurant, one of Springfield's largest employers. Kathleen has now been with Assurant Insurance for 14 years and counting. During this time, she has and continues to work part-time at Temple Sholom.
In 1968, some friends of hers introduced her to Jim Leonard; and, after several years of being friends, they started dating. In 1974, they got married and have two sons, James who is 41 and William who is 39. Jim worked construction for a number of years before deciding to quit because of the seasonality of the work. Kathleen quickly told Jim that, if he wanted to marry her, he had better find a job. With that incentive, Jim took a job at Schaefer Bakery (now Klosterman Bakery). After 9 years with Schaefer's, Jim took a job with Vining Broom, where he remained for some 20 years. This is where the Leventhals and Itzca first met Jim and worked together for 20 plus years.
Jim started working as Temple Sholom's custodian in the early 1992 when Itzca decided to go back to Israel for a year or so. As we know, Jim has been with us ever since.
In years past, Kathleen participated in the Olan Mills bowling leagues and now when time allows enjoys reading. For the past year or so, she has been taking care of Jim, who is now recovering from knee replacement surgery.
Hopefully, we all know how lucky we have been for all these years to have Kathleen and Jim Leonard as part of the Temple Sholom family. They are a major reason why so many things at Temple Sholom operate so smoothly and why our facility looks so great. Their behind-the-scenes work makes everything look a lot easier than it really is. They are a great team who have become irreplaceable. Kathleen and Jim, Thank You for all you have done for Temple Sholom and many of us. We look forward to having you as members of our family for many more years to come.
"We cannot all write a great novel, but all of us can live one."
~ CONTRIBUTIONS ~
- A generous donation has been received from Inas Sisler in memory of her husband Jeff
- In memory of Rabbi Janice Garfunkel from Itzca Zohar
- Best wishes for your recovery and good health to Sam Kossoff from Marvin and Sandy Silverstein
JEFFREY D EBNER YOUTH FUND
- In memory of Jeff Ebner from Lyla and Harvey Bailin and Family
- In memory of Ruth Henderson Buchholz's sister from Lyla and Harvey Bailin
- In memory of Mrs. Harry Rood's husband from Lyla and Harvey Bailin
RABBI'S DISCRETIONARY FUND
- With appreciation for the service of my father's stone unveiling from Todd and Gabriele Leventhal
~ YAHRZEIT LIST ~
DEC 1: Laura Ackerman (mother of Joan), Harry Berman, Shirley Ruth Buchfirer, Sanford "Rik" Newman, Ethel H. Sanders, Ben Farber, Tillie Shifman (mother of Morrey)
DEC 8: Jean Block, Bertha Frand Ebner, Pearl E. Friedman, Emil Gross, James Herron, Raymond Schneider (husband of Marilyn, father of Larry, Bruce, Joan), Dorothy Bandman, Leonard Kurland, Abe Margolis (father of Maxine Leventhal), Albert Viton, Ben Zoldan (father of Gail Russack)
DEC 15: Ben Endelman, Rabbi Marianne Gevirtz, Corinne Pommer Schiff, Anna Farber, Benjamin Grodner (father of Jack), George Leventhal, Barbara Miller, Harold Pesselman (father of Laurie), Sidney Russack, Pearl Stein (mother of Leslie Buerki)
DEC 22: Natalie Cornez (wife of Paul), Martin Ebner (father of Dick), Hyman D. Kaminsky, Harold S. Pollens, Jack M. Rubin, Izidore Weiser, Sarah Fish (mother of Larry), Arthur Turyn (father of Larry)
DEC 29: Sarah Endelman, Lena Gross, Ellen I. Helfgott, Rose H. Holzberg, Toby Katz, Augusta Kaufman, Erie Maybruck, Clara Mendelson, Simon Sanders, Isidor Schiff, Manuel L. Soble, Mo Weixelbaum, Oscar Werber, Minnie Ebner, Nathan Leventhal, Ruth Mazur, Freda Silverstein (mother of Marvin), Eugene Unger (father of Shirley Leventhal)
JAN 5: Bernice Jean Gerson, Morris M. Gold, Anne Reich Krauss (mother of Gary), Sylvia Rubinoff, Harry Sachs, Siegfried Sander, Sam Schechter, Emma Schoenthal, Samuel Farber, Jack Leventhal (father of Aaron), Lillian Leventhal, Lester Lind (father of Bobbi Mugford), Lillian Nedelman (mother of Stan), Mary Schoemer