Oct 23, 2014  ::  29 Tishri 5775
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The Temple
Congregation Ohabai Sholom
5015 Harding Road
Nashville, TN 37205
615-352-7620
www.templenashville.org
MEDIA CONTACT:
Joyce Friedman
Public Relations
joyceefriedman@gmail.com
615-370-1666
615-714-1666 


The Temple Announces New Officers: Ralph Levy Jr. to Lead 750-Family Member Congregation

Rabbi Falk Remembered as a Champion of Social Justice and Inspiring Teacher & Mentor

Stand with Us at the Women of the Wall Event, Tues., August 6, 2013

The Temple Celebrates Its Cantor of 30 Years as Cantor Emeritus (June 2, 2013)

Reform Jews Reach Out to Converts Like Never Before (July 6, 2012)

Editorial: Baptists Start Bright, New Chapter (June 21, 2012)

The Temple Awarded URJ Incubator Grant for Innovative Program to Attract New Members (June 6, 2012)

The Temple Announces New Officers (June 5, 2012)

Editorial: A Birthday Wish for Israel: Peace (May 15, 2012)

Community Blood Drive on May 15, 2012 in Belle Meade Hosted by The Temple (May 1, 2012)

Rabbi Mark Schiftan Awarded Doctor of Divinity Degree ((April 20, 2012)

Editorial: Questing Souls Learn What It Takes to Become a Jew, (April 14, 2012)

The Temple Announces Appointment of New Cantor, (April 12, 2012)

Temple Arts Festival (TAF) Holds 8th Annual Exhibition & Sale, April 21-22, 2012 (April 1, 2012)

Dennis Scott - A Child at Heart Who Makes Music to Their Ears (March 26, 2012)

Editorial: Societies Are Defined by How They Treat the Most Vulnerable (March 15, 2012)

Editorial: Valentine's Blessings of an Empty Nest (Feb. 25, 2012)

The Temple Offers CPR & First Aid Training (February 11, 2012)

The Temple Takes Social Action & Donates $15,000 to Local Charities (February 11, 2012)

Rabbi Rami Shapiro Led Adult Education Series on Meditation Practices (January 22, 2012)

Dr. Amy-Jill Levine Spoke at The Temple in January (January 17, 2012)

Editorial: What Would Jesus, the Jew, Do? (Dec. 20, 2011)

Editorial: Civil Discourse as a Sacred Challenge (Nov. 11, 2011)

Taste of Judaism July Lecture Series Open to the Public (July 10, 2011)

Corye Nelson Named New Playschool Director (October 18, 2010)

Temple Unveils Newly Designed Torah Covers for High Holy Days (August 30, 2010)

The Temple Announces New Board Officers for 2010-2011: Randy Goldstein to Lead 750-Member Family Congregation (June 10, 2010)

Local Baptist Church & Jewish Temple Open Their Doors This Weekend for Benefit Concert for Nashville Symphony Orchestra (May 14, 2010)

In a Time of Great Need, The Temple Gives $15,000 to 12 Nashville Charities (April 28, 2010)

The Temple Honors Rabbi Randall Falk for 50 Years of Service (January 4, 2010)

The Temple Shares the Meaning of Martin Luther King Day, Across the Past, Present and Future (January 4, 2010)

Reform & Orthodox Congregations Unite as One for Trip to Israel in December 2009 (November 11, 2009)

Ninth Annual Nashville Jewish Film Festival Shows Nov. 7 - 12, 2009 (October 8, 2009)

Anniversary of 9/11 Inspires Community to Build: Unity Build for Habitat Planned Involving 18 Nashville Congregations (August 24, 2009)

The Temple Confirmation Class preserves Holocaust Torah (May, 27 2009)

The Temple Announces New Board of Trustees (May 25, 2009)

Collectible & Even Economical Artwork for Sale at Fifth Annual Temple Arts Festival (April 3, 2009)

Reform Jewish Prayer is Re-Formed: First Jewish Prayer Book Released in 30 Years - (April 2, 2009)

The Temple to Host 64th Annual Interfaith Dinner with Five Other Faith-Based Area Churches (February 17, 2009)

Boulevard Bolt Thanksgiving 5K Run Marks 15 Years & Over $1 Million to Serve Homeless (November 10, 2008)

Cantor Benard Gutcheon Honored for 25 Years of Service to the Temple (September 27, 2008)

The Temple Announces New Board of Trustees - (August 7, 2008)

The Temple Announces New Board Officers: Patty Marks to Lead 750-Member Congregation - (June 19, 2008)

The Temple's Rabbi Ranked No. 14 among Top Pulpit Rabbis in the U.S. - (May 16, 2008)

The Jewish Temple Buried Its Holy Books (April 14, 2008)

The Temple Completes Beautification of Its Sanctuary: Seven Days of Creation Tapestry Donated by Zeitlin-Averbuch Families (March 17, 2008)

Medicare Part D Prescription Evaluations Available for Seniors (December 11, 2007)

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Determine Which Medicare Part D Drug Plan Is Best for You (December 11, 2007)

Becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah Is Not Just for 13-Year-Olds (October 28, 2011)

Urban Green Lab Co-Founder to Speak at The Temple's Green Team Meeting (July 15, 2011)







The Temple Announces New Officers: Ralph Levy Jr. to Lead 750-Family Member Congregation

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NASHVILLE, TENN. (May 2, 2014) – Ralph Z. Levy, Jr. has been named president of The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Belle Meade, Temple leaders announced at their 163rd Annual Congregational Meeting that was held on May 2, 2014. Founded in 1851, The Temple is Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation.


Levy is an attorney of counsel in the Nashville office of Dickinson Wright, PLLC, where he focuses his practice on corporate, healthcare enterprises, and estate planning law. He holds a post graduate master’s in law in taxation from New York University, and received his jurisprudence degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law.

Other newly elected officers of The Temple are: Vice President and Treasurer Martin Sir of Nashville and Secretary Joyce Bauman Friedman of Franklin. Sir is an attorney in the law offices of Martin Sir & Associates. Friedman is an affiliate real estate broker and sales associate specializing in the sale of new home construction for Fox Ridge Homes & Ryan Homes.

As The Temple’s 58th president, Levy will lead its 750-family member congregation for the next two years, continuing his extensive service in The Temple’s leadership. He previously served The Temple as president of its brotherhood from 1982-1983, and as a member of its Board of Trustees from 1982 – 1987 and 2002 – 2008. While a board member, he served as co-chair of The Temple’s Cemetery Committee from 2003 – 2006, during which time the cemetery went through a major renovation of its peripheral stone walls and was added to the National Register of Historic Places. He served as chair of The Temple’s Budget Committee and as a member of its Executive Committee from 2006 – 2008. Levy was elected secretary of The Temple in 2008, then served as treasurer and vice president before his recent election as president.

During Levy’s presidency, he plans to focus his efforts on integration, accountability and education.

“The continuation of The Temple's role as an important and influential institution in the Jewish heritage in Nashville depends on ensuring that current and future generations of congregants are versed in The Temple’s rich local history and the centuries-old traditions of Judaism,” said Levy. Among other efforts, he plans to work with The Temple clergy and its Adult Education Committee to expand its offerings of classes for congregants that will provide them "with valuable information about Judaism that either was never learned or had long been forgotten,” he said.

A Nashville native, Levy traces his lineage to past Temple leadership. His great-grandmother, Ada Jaros Levy, was one of the first presidents of The Temple’s sisterhood, and Levy’s great-uncle, Alfred Jaros Levy, Sr. was a former president of The Temple. His professional career also has ties to The Temple presidency, having started his law practice in 1978 with the law firm Gilbert & Milom, where former Temple President Harris Gilbert was a founding partner.

“I attribute my faithful involvement and continuing desire to serve The Temple to my mother, Annette Levy Ratkin, of blessed memory, who was a mainstay in Jewish life in Nashville,” Levy said. As a religious schoolteacher, Chevrah Torah attendee, head librarian and archivist for all of the Jewish congregational libraries, including the Jewish Federation’s archives, his mother’s love of Judaism “was eclipsed only by her love of The Temple and of her family,” he added.

Levy is married to his wife, Randi of 39 years. They have three children: a son, Ross, and two married daughters, Roni, married to Blake Dunlap of Franklin, Tennessee, and Risa, married to, Chris Hatcher of Huntington, West Virginia, and mother to the Levy’s first and only grandchild, Audrey.

ABOUT THE TEMPLE – CONGREGATION OHABAI SHOLOM: The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom (www.templenashville.org) is a reform congregation, serving the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner and Williamson counties, and southern Kentucky. Dr. Mark Schiftan serves as its senior rabbi, Shana Goldstein Mackler as its rabbi, David Davis as rabbi laureate, Tracy Fishbein as cantor, and Bernie Gutcheon as cantor emeritus.



Rabbi Falk Remembered as a Champion of Social Justice and Inspiring Teacher & Mentor

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By Charles Bernsen, staff writer of "The Observer"
As published in "The Observer", February 2014, Vol. 79, No. 2., Nashville, Tenn.

Nashville, Tenn. (February 2014) - Rabbi Randall Falk, rabbi emeritus of Nashville's [The Temple] Congregation Ohabai Sholom, was remembered Wed., Jan. 22, 2014 as a relentless advocate for social justice, especially during the early years of the civil rights movement.

But the seven colleagues who delivered remarks during his funeral service at The Temple also spoke movingly about Rabbi Falk's less visible accomplishments as a mentor who had a profound influence on their personal as well as professional lives.

"He was my rabbi - my confidant, teacher and friend," said Rabbi Fred Guttman of Greensboro, NC, one of three Nashville natives who grew up as members of The Temple and were inspired by Rabbi Falk to enter the rabbinate.

Rabbi Falk, who served at The Temple from 1960 until his retirement in 1986, died Sun., Jan. 19, 2014. He was 92. More than 500 people, including Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and former mayor Bill Purcell, attended the service, which was followed by burial at The Temple cemetery.

The Temple's senior rabbi, Mark Schiftan, opened the service by noting how fitting it was that Rabbi Falk died on the same weekend that the nation celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Having come to Nashville during the campaign by African-Americans to integrate the city's lunch counter, he joined in their sit-ins and urged his congregants to take up the civil rights cause as their own. He led civil rights marches and in 1965 became a founding memer of the Metro Human Relations Comission. He also was instrumental in the founding of Alive Hospice.

"He was an ambassador of the finest essence of our heritage," Rabbi Schiftan told the mourners. "He held up a mirror of morality to his congregation and the city at a time when others chose to sit in silence."

But it was the personal, private remembrances of Rabbi Falk that were most moving, including those of his four grandchildren, who recounted the easy affection and humor of their saba (grandfather), the hours of fun playing cards with him, his huge grin that would grow even wider when they rubbed his bald head, and his unflagging interest in their lives even as he dealt with persistent health problems in his later years.

Rabbi Guttman, a self-described cutup as a youth, remembered being sent regularly to Rabbi Falk's study after being thrown out of religious school class. There would be the obligatory but brief expression of disappointment, "and then he always proceeded to teach me something important about our heritage."

Rabbi Falk inspired him to become a "nudnik for social action," said Rabbi Guttman, who is now chief rabbi at Greensboro's Temple Emanuel and has served for 10 years on the Commission for Social Action for Reform Judaism. "He will continue to guide me...and perhaps many of you."

The other two former Nashvillians who grew up in The Temple under Rabbi Falk and later became rabbis are Billy Kuhn, senior rabbi at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia, and Rabbi M. Bruck Lustig, senior rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation. Although both were prevented by a snowstorm from being at the funderal, Rabbi Schiftan read remarks from each.

Aside from being a professional inspiration and mentor, Rabbi Falk and his wife, Edna, introduced Rabbi Kuhn to the woman he would eventually marry. "Although he has been a major part of my life," Rabbi Kuhn said, "what I love him most is for what he did for you and our community. Through him we learned to love Judaism and to live better lives. I love him for his courage to stand up for what is right and speak for justice."

Rabbi Lustig recounted the milestones in his life over which Rabbi Falk presided: his consecration, bar mitzvah, confirmation, marriage, and installation as a congregational rabbi. While people may forget what you say and what you do," he said, "they will never forget how you make them feel. He made our congregation feel like a family."

Among others who spoke during the serivce was Cantor Peter Halpern of Temple Shalom in Newton, MA., who served at The Temple in Nashville for three years shortly afer his father's death and recalled how the Falks "took me in like a son."

Rabbi Ken Kanter, director of the Rabbinical School at Hebrew Union College and former assistant rabbi at The Temple, noted that Rabbi Falk's legacy as a teacher, includes rabbis around the world.

And Rabbi Jan Brahms of Congregation Beth Shalom of Woodlands, Texas, a former assistant rabbi at The Temple, described his mentor as "a healer of souls and a warrior in the battle for social justice."

Born in Little Rock, Ark., Rabbi Falk was ordained at Hebrew Union College and served as the senior rabbi of Temple Anshe Hesed in Erie, PA from 1947 to 1960 before coming to The Temple. During his years in Nashville, he also taught at the Vanderbilt University Divinity School. He was preceded in death by his son, USAF Brig. Gen. Randall Marc Falk. He is survived by his wife, Edna U. Falk; daughter, Heidi Falk Logan; son, Jonathan David Falk, and four grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Falk Social Justice Fund at The Temple or to a charity of the donor's choice.


Stand with Us at the Women of the Wall Event, Tues., August 6, 2013

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Nashville, Tenn. (July 30, 2013) - The Jewish community of Nashville, female and male, will join with the leaders of our Jewish congregations and organizations to pray in solidarity with Women of the Wall on Tuesday, August 6, 2013, 8:30 am at The Temple, 5015 Harding Road, Nashville, located next door to the Belle Meade Mansion.

Since 1988, Women of the Wall (Nashot Hakotel) has sought for the social and legal rights for women to wear prayer shawls, pray and read Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. This group, comprised of female and male supporters, is being subject to protest and widespread clashes with police and members of the ultra-Orthodox community, most recently at last month's Rosh Chodesh (New Month) prayer service.

Participants will welcome in the new Hebrew month of Elul with a meaningful hour-long prayer service and Torah reading. Weather permitting, the service will be held outdoors. Following the service, a light breakfast will be served.

"There is a terrible divide among the Jewish people in Jerusalem," said The Temple's Cantor, Tracy Fishbein. "Members of the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel are protesting because they feel the women's voices and presence distract them from praying at the Wall."

For more information about Women of the Wall, please visit: http://womenofthewall.org.il/. For further information about The Temple's Women of the Wall event, please call (615) 352-7620.



The Temple Celebrates Its Cantor of 30 Years as Cantor Emeritus (June 2, 2013)

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Nashville, Tenn. (June 2, 2013) - It was not your ordinary Sunday at The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom. Located next door to the Belle Meade Mansion, the Temple’s parking lot was overflowing as if it were one of its most observed holidays. Over 500 members gathered to show their appreciation for their beloved clergyman, Bernard Gutcheon, who earned the title, cantor emeritus, at a recent community event, held in June to coincide with his 60th birthday.

It was standing room only as members worked their way through the receiving line to greet Cantor Gutcheon and thank him for his 30 years of service and for playing a significant role in their families’ varied celebrations and events. His tribute book was growing fast as members also took painstaking time to write their thoughts of praise and thanks for the memories on keepsake cards.

Over half of Gutcheon’s life has been devoted to this one institution, a 30-year tenure that has touched so many different generations and families through numerous life cycle events and Jewish traditions from birth to death.

Congregant Joyce Friedman recalls one most memorable moment that sums up exactly how many lives within their congregation walls Cantor Gutheon has touched.

“We were attending The Temple’s 2008 Rosh Hashanah service when Rabbi Mark Schiftan was acknowledging Gutcheon’s 25 years of service to the Temple,” she said.

“Rabbi Schiftan had asked everyone to stand who had been touched by a life cycle event involving Cantor Gutcheon over the past 25 years he had been associated with us, whether a marriage, funeral, baby naming, bar or bat mitzvah, confirmation, or a visit to the hospital,’ said Friedman, now secretary of The Temple’s Board of Trustees. “There was a brief moment of silence, then a loud clattering as the entire congregation proudly rose from their seats, which easily was over 1,200 members in attendance.”

As a cantor of this reform Jewish congregation, Gutcheon has led the congregation in worship and song at its weekly Shabbat services on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, and officiated or co-officiated baby naming’s, bar and bat mitzvahs, consecrations, confirmations, post confirmations, weddings and funerals. And, visited sick congregants while in the hospital or at a hospice. He has organized choirs, and led Hebrew studies to prepare students for their bar or bat mitzvah ceremonies.

In private lessons, he has taught Hebrew and their Torah portions to over 1,000 students, ages 10 through 13, and adults, in preparation for their bar or bat mitzvah which entailed three years of study. His earliest students are now parents.

“Cantor Gutcheon has used his beautiful voice and comforting qualities as a respected Jewish clergyman to guide generations of individuals and families through the joys and sadness of life cycle events, “ said co-chair and Temple member Felicia Anchor. “He has contributed his special skills as an educator to insure that young people, who are learning and developing their Jewish faith, know and understand their religion.”

About Cantor Emeritus Bernard Gutcheon. Gutcheon’s childhood soprano voice was discovered when he was six years old, and perfected by his mother, a classically trained singer. He realized his talent when he sang a solo of “Silent Night” at school and experienced the positive reaction of the audience from his first public performance.

Encouraged by his parents and his Jewish upbringing in Connecticut, Gutcheon received voice training from such greats as Mordechai Ben Shachar of the Israeli National Opera and William Metcalf of the New York City Opera, and Cantor Arthur Kortet. His desire was to one-day serve as the cantor of a Jewish congregation.

Gutcheon received a bachelor’s degree in sacred music from Hebrew Union College (HUC), Jewish Institute of Religion, specializing in cantorial investiture. There, he studied liturgical music, learned to read the Torah and interpret the text of the Talmud and Bible to accentuate the holiness of the texts through musical interpretations. He also secured a double certification in teaching music and religious school education. During his training at HUC, he interned at Sloane Kettering to become a chaplain, which was not a formal part of the cantorial program at that time.

Gutcheon’s Milestones at The Temple. After his formal training, Gutcheon’s desire to become a cantor of a Jewish congregation was granted when recruited by Rabbi Randall M. Falk of The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Nashville, Tenn.

His affiliation was at a time when the Jewish Reform Movement was just starting to move mainstream away from its classical roots. Since 1983, Gutcheon has led this community’s congregation in worship and song.

The Temple, which is 162 years old, had a cantor for only about five years before Gutcheon arrived. “I was hired at a very interesting crossroads in The Temple’s development from a classical reform congregation,” said Gutcheon. “They had two cantors that had lasted only one year each, and a cantorial soloist for three years before I arrived.”

The role as cantor was not totally defined yet at The Temple when I first started. Initially, I was asked to sing at birthday parties. The Temple really did not know how to utilize a cantor, or what a cantor was because the needs of the congregation were different then than they are now.”

Falk, who served as The Temple’s rabbi from 1960 to 1986, was Gutcheon’s mentor. “He had a keen understanding of this congregation’s needs, and how important it was to earn the congregation’s trust, particularly when wanting to introduce change,” said Gutcheon.

Gutcheon still remembers Rabbi Falk’s words of wisdom, “‘Let them get to know you and trust you.’”

Falk was from the classical reform tradition of Judaism, but he recognized that classical reform was slowly moving to the center, nationally. So, he encouraged Gutcheon to utilize music and liturgies toward that direction while still instilling trust.

Those words still resonate with Gutcheon today as he looks back on how Rabbi Falk’s advise and teachings helped him solidify his cantorial position, and play a significant role for future generations of cantors at The Temple.

“Classical reform Jews grew up singing hymns in the red hymnal prayer book from the late 19th century and early 20th century. I was excited to learn new music from a tradition I did not know,” said Gutcheon. “Our services became very eclectic. It was very important to make sure that the liturgy and music reflected the needs and tastes of three generations who participated and prayed together weekly.”

For example, Gutcheon made an effort to introduce the chanting of the Torah, the haftarah and its associated blessings, which was not a part of The Temple’s way of worshipping then. “Nobody chanted anything; they would read it,” he said. In time, he introduced the chanting of the V’ahavta and Avot and other Jewish prayers. These changes happened over a period of time, not all at once, he noted.

Another example was when The Temple’s Rabbi Stephen Fuchs would conduct Shabbat services using the old Union Prayer Book, which occurred a few times a year. It helped bridge the gap for the older generation and made it easier for them to feel a part of the change. The Temple’s current senior rabbi, Mark Schiftan, D.D., still continues this tradition today.

Gutcheon continued to offer different worship experiences by gradually introducing the playing of guitar, then bands during worship services.

“Playing guitar and having a band play at services just did not happen, it took a process of introduction and getting our congregants used to it,” said Gutcheon. “The process has continued over the past 30 years and has allowed us to introduce different worship experiences.”

The Development of The Temple’s Hebrew Program. When he first came to Nashville, Gutcheon had come from a congregation in Los Angeles, Ca. where students studied Hebrew four hours a week. At The Temple, students studied Hebrew two hours per week so his challenge was to create a curriculum that fit into the culture of The Temple. He shifted the program’s direction to focus on prayer book Hebrew so students were prepared to participate in worship services.

“I felt it important to narrow the focus of our Hebrew program to meet the needs of our congregation. So, by the time the students completed 7th grade, they had learned the liturgy of our worship service.” He now feels that The Temple has an organized Hebrew program that meets the cultural needs of the congregation.

Rabbi Falk, Gutcheon’s mentor, sums up his “student” this way, “In my estimation, Bernie is one of the finest Hebrew teachers that I have known,” said Falk. “For he not only loves and creates trust, but gives of himself during his relationships with his students.”

“I feel good about what I have accomplished over these past 30 years for The Temple, in helping to define the role of the cantor,” said Gutcheon with dry, chapped lips after greeting hundreds of well wishers that memorable day. “The process of developing new worship experiences will continue with our new cantor, Tracy Fishbein, as she introduces new songs and liturgies together with Rabbi Schiftan and Rabbi Shana Mackler.”

About The Temple - Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform Jewish congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner and Williamson counties, and southern Kentucky. Dr. Mark Schiftan serves as its senior rabbi; Shana Goldstein Mackler as its associate rabbi; Tracy Fishbein as cantor; Dr. Randall M. Falk as rabbi emeritus, and Bernard Gutcheon as cantor emeritus.



Reform Jews Reach Out to Converts Like Never Before (July 6, 2012)

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By Heidi Hall, Reporter
As published in “The Tennessean,” July 6, 2012 edition

It used to be a secret test — rabbis turning potential converts away three times before allowing them to study Judaism.

Then a “Sex and the City” character’s on-screen conversion took the mystery out of that tradition — the series famously demonstrated Charlotte bearing repeated slams of the synagogue door in her face.

“Now some people feel that, if I don’t return an email right away, that’s what I’m doing,” joked Rabbi Shana Mackler, who leads conversion classes at The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Belle Meade.

The truth is, Reform Judaism is proselytizing in a way rarely seen since before the Roman Empire quashed Jews’ attempts to grow their congregations.

Two years ago, The Temple began using its A Taste of Judaism workshop, which draws up to 100 non-Jews annually to learn more about Christianity’s roots, as a gentle gateway to joining the congregation. Instead of just saying goodbye, leaders explained how to connect with conversion classes.

This year, the New York-based umbrella group Union of Reform Judaism gave the congregation $5,000 to aid those efforts — marking the first time the union offered money to help synagogues pay for the process.

While the grant amount is small, and the number of Temple converts rose from three each year to only a dozen annually, the religion’s leaders say the new approach reflects a national trend and sea change in attracting outsiders. The converts themselves, who come from a variety of religious traditions — or none at all — say it’s a relief to find a religion that fits the belief system they held all along.

When Jason Wesley of Hendersonville showed up at A Taste of Judaism in July of last year, he wasn’t expecting to run into his dad, a Methodist minister. They were both there to learn more about Judaism, but for one of them, it became a lifelong commitment.

“Over the years, I tried to go back to church here and there. I’d get into theological debates, and that would be about it,” Wesley said. “I spent 30 years trying to invent Judaism, and it was here all along.”

The psychology student plans to have his conversion ceremony in August.
Corinne Martin became a Unitarian Universalist in the fourth grade and spent her life trying to explain her personal belief system — that denomination doesn’t offer a particular dogma. Turns out, she was explaining Reform Judaism, she said.

Her family supported her conversion, but Martin was surprised at some of the reactions.
“There are people very uncomfortable with it,” the Nashville attorney said. “They see my conversion as a rejection of Christianity rather than an acceptance of my religious identity.”

Slow progression

Various regimes have persecuted Jews for centuries, changing a once-proselytizing people, said Vicky Farhi, an outreach specialist at the Union for Reform Judaism. Jews had to be sure those who expressed interest really wanted to be Jewish, leading to the idea of repeated rejections before agreeing to a course of study.

A forward-thinking rabbi called on the group in the late 1970s to start welcoming converts, but it’s been a slow progression.

Like other Jews, Reform Jews believe the Torah is God’s word. They also believe religious tenets can change with time. Unlike some other branches of Judaism, they accept women as rabbis and congregation presidents and accept gays and lesbians for full participation in synagogue life.

For outsiders, that branch may have the broadest appeal of the four — Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist — said Elyce Helford, who’s heading up a new Jewish Studies and Holocaust minor at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

It launches in the fall and sprang from interest in the university’s biennial Holocaust Conference, which draws speakers and participants from around the globe. Helford’s two sections of Jewish American Identity in Literature and Culture fill up each semester. Many students say they’re interested in Christianity’s Jewish roots or in Judaism’s focus on good deeds.

“One thing students say is, ‘Jesus was a Jew,’ ” Helford said.

Orthodox Jews take different approach

Orthodox Judaism, a fundamental form of the religion, doesn’t support any similar conversion efforts, said Rabbi Judah Isaacs, director of community engagement for the Orthodox Union. They’re focused on cultivating Jewish life within their own communities.

“We wouldn’t even offer the class to begin with,” he said. “Most Orthodox conversion takes place in private study with a rabbi.”

The Union for Reform Judaism claims about 1 million members in the U.S. but doesn’t break out numbers of converts, Farhi said.

She wouldn’t reveal membership from a decade ago, saying only that the total is down because of the economy. A recent national survey by the Association of Religion Data Archives doesn’t have comparative information either.

Anecdotally, Farhi said, synagogues across the nation are reporting increased interest in conversion classes.

Middle Tennessee’s two reform congregations, The Temple and Congregation Micah in Brentwood, report flat membership overall. Rabbi Laurie Rice of Congregation Micah said conversions there range between four and 13 a year, and it’s tough to predict how many they’ll have.

Converting typically takes about a year. At The Temple, potential converts meet for two hours every three or four weeks, studying a particular curriculum. They have to prove again and again, through attendance in the classes and regular services, that they’re serious about converting. Rabbis ask them pointed questions about why they want to be Jewish.

At the end, students must complete a project that reflects their personal commitment to Reform Judaism. A doctor who converted studied Judaism in biomedical ethics. Another convert studied the faith’s influence on 1960s music. Another compiled a congregation cookbook.

Finding acceptance

For Joshua Hawkins, it was a blog about the persecution of gays during the Holocaust. His father and grandfather are Pentecostal pastors, and the conversion strained family ties, but Hawkins and his partner, Robert Burchfield, found another family at The Temple.

“I had been reading and studying, and the more I read, the more I realized this fit my belief system best,” he said. “I loved the community aspect of it.”

The two were blessed by the congregation at a recent Shabbat service. Afterward, they were overwhelmed with well-wishers hugging them and imparting marriage advice. Mackler, who taught Hawkins and Burchfield their new religion, performed their wedding ceremony at The Temple on June 16, a union fully recognized by that faith.

“For me, it was the acceptance,” Burchfield said. “The people just made you feel like you belonged, like you’re part of a huge family.”

To contact The Tennessean reporter Heidi Hall at 615-726-5977 or hhall@tennessean.com, or follow her on Twitter @HeidiHallTN



Editorial: Baptists Start Bright, New Chapter (June 21, 2012)

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"Tennessee Voices" Editorial
"Baptists Start Bright New Chapter"
Published in "The Tennessean" (Nashville, Tenn. June 21, 2012)

by Rabbi Mark Schiftan
Senior Rabbi of The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, Nashville, Tenn.

Loyal followers of every community of faith should applaud the recent voice of the Southern Baptist Convention to elect its first African-American president.

It is a truly transformative moment: It transcends a painful chapter in its history - one of supporting slavery and segregation - and turns a new page moving with sacred purpose and determination toward a new narrative, one of inclusion and embrace.

It is a breathtaking example of the best use of religion - any religion - to actively choose to see God's image in every human soul - regardless of creed, color, country of origin, culture or lifestyle.

It confirms the noblest aspiration of all those who use their religious traditions - and all of their related holy texts - as the most sacred of means to the most sacred of ends: the elevation of the human spirit, and the fullest embrace of the human soul.

It requires nothing less than acknowledging our past mistakes, whether in our unfair means or unjust manner, of how we viewed and vilified others in our past; and it requires nothing more than the courage to admit those transgressions and to harness the conviction of our conscience to make constructive change.

Even more, if it is done right, it reminds us all that if we can be honest about our past - even our lowest moments - that in the process, we can choose to be true to our higher selves, to our better selves, to those noble souls whom our Creator ultimately calls upon all of us to be and to become.

It is never easy to do the right thing. But it is always the right thing to do. Thank you, our Southern Baptist friends, for reminding us of that.

Mazel tov: Congratulations. Job well done.

Rabbi Mark Schiftan may be reached at mschiftan@aol.com


The Temple Awarded URJ Incubator Grant for Innovative Program to Attract New Members (June 6, 2012)

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The Temple Awarded URJ Incubator Grant for Innovative Program to Attract New Members

(Nashville, TN. June 6, 2012) - The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom of Nashville, Tenn. is one of 20 Reform Jewish congregations in North America selected to receive the Union of Reform Judaism’s 2012 Incubator Grant out of more than 160 applicants.

The Incubator Grant provides seed funding for innovative new programs designed to further engage current members and attract new members in Reform Jewish synagogue life. Applicants had to demonstrate that their programming would stimulate thinking in one of three focus areas: 1.) creation of a culture that supports and encourages conversion; 2.) retention and engagement of post b’nai mitzvah teens and their families; and, 3.) engagement in synagogue life, including recruitment of potential members, integration of recent members and retention of current members.

The Temple focused its grant application on creating a culture that supports and encourages conversion. It will use its $5,000 grant to expand and improve upon its pilot program, “Conversion Conversations,” an introduction to Judaism for non-Jews who are somewhere on their path toward Judaism. The program began years ago as individual study with Rabbi Shana R. Mackler, The Temple’s associate rabbi, and has developed into a year-long, 11-session, group curriculum.

“With this financial help, The Temple is now poised for development into a solid and robust, identity and group sustaining, conversion program,” said Rabbi Mackler.

“This year’s programming will deliver an in-depth exploration of Judaism through rabbinic teaching, chevrutah study, hands-on workshops, ritual practice & worship, festival celebrations, and a cultural field trip, providing the opportunity for those seeking to learn more about Judaism to grow as a group and continue on their individual journeys toward becoming Jewish,” Rabbi Mackler said.

“Conversion Conversations has developed into a nurturing way to strengthen our Temple as a welcoming home for those whose religion is not Judaism and are exploring conversion,“ said Rabbi Mackler. “For those unfamiliar to Judaism and Jewish worship, coming to a temple is often an intimidating experience. We aspire to create an affinity, a bond among this growing group as they transition to a sense of comfort and belonging.”

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) will collect information from all grantees and share noteworthy practices with member congregations.

“We are thrilled to offer these grants to member congregations for a second year,” said URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs. “We saw how much the grant process inspired creativity last year, and were impressed with the results of each of the award-winning initiatives. Together, we are developing and learning innovative ways to engage people in Reform Jewish life.”

Founded in 1873, the Union for Reform Judaism (www.urg.org) is a dynamic network of congregations, lay leaders, clergy and professional of the Reform Jewish movement that serves nearly 900 member congregations in the United States, Canada, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

As a member of the World Union of Progressive Judaism, the URJ also connects Reform Jews in North America with Liberal/Progressive/Reform congregations around the world. URJ’s programs, information and networking opportunities enhance member congregations’ capacity to build and expand community, deepen Jewish learning, energize worship, pursue social justice, and develop inspired leadership.

The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville’s largest and oldest Jewish congregation., founded in 1851. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner and Williamson counties, and southern Kentucky. Mark Schiftan serves as its senior rabbi, Shana Goldstein Mackler as associate rabbi, Tracy Fishbein as cantor, and Bernie Gutcheon as cantor emeritus.



The Temple Announces New Officers (June 5, 2012)

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The Temple Announces New Officers - Ray Berk to Lead 750-Family Member Congregation

Nashville, Tenn. (June 5, 2012) –Rafael “Ray” H. Berk of Nashville has been named president of The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Belle Meade. He will lead its 750-family member congregation for a two-year term.

Other newly-elected officers are: Vice President Ralph Z. Levy, Jr., Treasurer Martin Sir, both of Nashville, and Secretary Joyce B. Friedman of Franklin.

Berk is the 57th president of The Temple, which has historical beginnings dating back to 1851 in Nashville when The Temple purchased cemetery property. He has served on The Temple’s Board of Trustees since 2002. A native of Houston, Texas, Berk is a partner with the law firm Pohl & Berk, LLP, specializing in personal injury, products liabiity and business litigation.

Levy serves as Of Counsel in the Nashville office of Dickinson Wright PLLC, where he specializes in the corporate, healthcare enterprises and estate planning areas. Sir is an attorney in the law office of Martin Sir & Associates, specializing in personal injury, probate and divorce. Friedman specializes in the sale of new home construction as a Realtor® and sales & marketing assistant for Fox Ridge Homes.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner and Williamson counties, and southern Kentucky. Mark Schiftan serves as its senior rabbi, Shana Goldstein Mackler as its associate rabbi, Tracy Fishbein as cantor, and Bernie Gutcheon as cantor emeritus.



Editorial: A Birthday Wish for Israel: Peace (May 15, 2012)

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Tennessee Voices: A Birthday Wish for Israel: Peace

Editorial published in "The Tennessean," Nashville, Tenn. (May 15, 2012)
by Rabbi Mark Schiftan, senior rabbi of The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom

Today, May 14th, is the 64th birthday of the State of Israel. For Jews around the world, and for all those who love and support the Jewish people and our ancestral Jewish homeland, this is yet another milestone in the modern miracle of a people’s life reborn out of the ashes of the Holocaust.

The battles for the survival and security of the Jewish state have been fought since its inception; the people of Israel live in a very tough neighborhood, with often hostile neighbors. Nevertheless, it is impossible to overstate the value of a secure, Jewish homeland and what it means to the Jewish people. Still living in the shadow of the Holocaust, it is a question Jews ask themselves each day; what would have happened to the Jews of Europe had there been a place of Jewish refuge to turn to in the face of their imminent harm?

Or, as a friend of mine puts it, “You never want to wake up one day and find out that there’s no longer a State of Israel, to protect us.”

In his recently released book, "The Prime Ministers," Israeli author Yehuda Avner highlights Golda Meir’s depiction of a unique moment in her life. Golda tells of a meeting between herself and a group of young, exhausted soldiers, serving in the tank brigade, a meeting held during the festival of Sukkot, immediately following the Yom Kippur War:

After speaking to the group, she asked, “Now, is there anyone who would like to ask me something?” One tank crew member in his early twenties raised his hand: “I have a question. My father was killed in the War (of Independence in) 1948, and we won. My uncle was killed in the war of fifty-six, and we won. My brother lost an arm in the sixty-seven war, and we won. Last week, I lost my best friend over there...and we’re going to win. But is all of our sacrifice worthwhile, Golda? What’s the use of our sacrifice, if we can’t win the peace?”

With a deeply compassionate tone, Golda gently offered her reply: “I weep for your loss, just as I grieve for all our dead. I lie awake at night thinking of them. And, I must tell you in all honesty, were our sacrifices for ourselves alone, then perhaps you would be right; I’m not at all sure they would be worthwhile. But if our sacrifices are for the sake of the whole Jewish people, then I believe with all my heart that any price is worthwhile.”

This is not to say that Israel is perfect, nor that every decision she has made has been the right one or the best one. Nor does it mean that we need all agree with each of those decisions.

But, for today, we who love Israel pray for the peace of her people, even as we pray for a peaceful era, both for her and for her neighbors. That is our birthday wish for the Jewish State.



Community Blood Drive on May 15, 2012 in Belle Meade Hosted by The Temple (May 1, 2012)

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Nashville, Tenn. (May 1, 2012) –A community blood drive is scheduled for Tuesday, May 15, 2012 from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm at The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom, 5012 Harding Road, Nashville, Tenn. The Temple is located next door to the Belle Meade Mansion.

The event is organized by The Temple’s Social Action Committee and the American Red Cross. Appointments are encouraged by calling Chairperson Victoria Cohen-Crumpton at (615) 646-7918.

To donate, donors must be at least 17 years old, or 16 years old with parental consent, permitted by Tennessee state law. The young adult will need to bring a signed parent/guardian consent form, found on the American Red Cross web site, to his or her blood donation appointment,. Donors must also weight at least 110 pounds and be in good health.

To get ready for your blood donation there are several steps the American Red Cross recommends:
• Maintain a Healthy Level of Iron in Your Diet before Donating –Eat iron-rich foods in your diet, especially in the weeks before your donation. Foods that boost iron absorption most are spinach, red meat, fish, poultry, beans, iron-fortified cereals and raisins.
• Get a Good Night’s Sleep.
• Hydrate – Drink an extra 16 oz. of water and fluids before the donation.
• Eat a Healthy Meal before Your Donation - Avoid fatty foods, such as hamburgers, fries or ice cream before donating. Tests for infections done on all donated blood can be affected by fats that appear in your blood for several hours after eating fatty foods.
• Wear Comfortable Clothing – Wear clothing with sleeves that can easily be rolled up above the elbow.
• Two IDs Required - Remember to bring your donor card, driver’s license or two other forrms of identification.

In addition to holding community blood drives, The Temple’s Social Action Committee also performs others acts of kindness and good deeds, like participating in a Habitat for Humanity build, and providing temporary shelter for homeless women with its onsite Room in the Inn. They also annually give a financial boost to 12 local charities in the Greater Nashville area, making donations throught its permanent Social Action Funds, giving more than $250,000 since 1971.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom (www.templenashville.org) is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple is home to more than 725 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region in Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, and Sumner counties, and southern Kentucky. Mark Schiftan serves as its senior rabbi, Shana Goldstein Mackler as its associate rabbi, and Bernie Gutcheon as cantor.



Rabbi Mark Schiftan Awarded Doctor of Divinity Degree ((April 20, 2012)

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Rabbi Mark Schiftan Honored for 25 Years in Rabbinate and Awarded Doctor of Divinity (April 20, 2012)

Rabbi Mark Schiftan, senior rabbi of The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Nashville, Tenn. was awarded a doctor of divinity degree, honoris causa, at the May 14, 2012 graduation of the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, Ca.

He also was honored for his 25 years in the rabbinate by his congregation at Shabbat services on Friday, June 1, 2012.


Editorial: Questing Souls Learn What It Takes to Become a Jew, (April 14, 2012)

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Nashville, Tenn. (April 14, 2012) "Questing Souls Learn What It Takes to Become a Jew," by Rabbi Mark Schiftan of The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom

The following article was submitted by Rabbi Mark Schiftan of The Temple, - Congregation Ohabai Sholom to "The Tennessean" of Nashville, Tenn. for publication within its Faith & Values section as its "Message of the Week" on Saturday, April 14, 2012.

Good Friday was not always so good for the Jews.

In less inclusive times, and in less welcoming circumstances, that day was often a day when virulent anti-semitic acts were sanctioned, and even encouraged, by those who continued to perpetuate horrific myths and stereotypes against the Jewish people.

Given this reality, over the centuries, those who wished to convert to Judaism were often met with a rather sobering question: Do you pledge your loyalty to Judaism, and to the Jewish people, amid all circumstances and conditions?

Without exception, this is the most important question we ask of all candidates for conversion on the evening of their conversion ceremony. It requires an absolutely unwavering determination and a publicly proclaimed willingness to stand at the ready in defense of our faith, our people and our ancestral homeland.

What does it take to become a Jew? And why on Earth would someone choose that path? I mean, would you, if you were born to some faith other than the Jewish faith?

This year, here at The Temple, we had nearly 100 people show up, once again, for a class we call, "A Taste of Judaism." Some come simply to learn more about the Jewish faith, or about the Jewish roots of their own faith. But many come as the first step along the path toward conversion.

Over the past year, in that same vein, we've had nearly two dozen students continue on that journey, gathering on Sunday mornings to study together and to share in their collective quest and questioning of their desire and readiness to join our people and our faith.

When they are ready, we welcome then - through rituals both ancient and modern - into the Jewish faith. In recent weeks, during virtually every Friday night Sabbath worship service, we've welcomed (and will continue to welcome) many of these students into our congregational home and into our communal heart.

And so, once again, because of the required commitments to the connections that bind them to our Jewish past and future, to our heritage and our destiny, we actually ask those who come to join our Jewish family and faith this very question, right on our pulpit: "Do you pledge your loyalty to the Jewish faith, despite all circumstances and conditions?"

And sometimes, we add these words to their conversion ceremonies as well: "Knowing well the history of martyrdom in years past, this Jew-by-choice has chosen (nonetheless) to join their destiny with ours. And, we are prepared to open our hearts to them."

REWARDS AND RISKS
It is a powerful moment for them and for us. While we don't wish to denigrate our own heritage, we are somewhat in awe of their pursuit: We are well acquainted, perhaps too well acquainted, not only with the rewards of being a Jew, but also with the risks that come along with it.

These wonderful souls have chosen Judaism, nonetheless. They have chosen this sacred place as their Jewish home, and they have chosen this sacred assembly of souls as their Jewish family and their Jewish community. They have enriched our lives in countless ways, and we are fortunate to have them accept our embrace even as we fully accept theirs. They are - each and every one of them - true blessings who magnify and sanctify our congregational and communal life.

On the Friday before Easter this year, as Jews gathered together to celebrate the first night of Passover, we recalled both the pride and the pain of our heritage. We retold the story that transformed a mere band of slaves into a sacred nation. We remembered the narrative that fashioned a homeless people into a holy people. For many Jews-by-choice, this was their first Passover; for many of them, it was the first time that our story became theirs...and their stories became part of ours.

In that way, it may yet be a good Friday for us, after all.


The Temple Announces Appointment of New Cantor, (April 12, 2012)

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Nashville, Tenn. (April 12, 2012) President Randy Goldstein of The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Nashville recently announced the appointment of Tracy L. Fishbein as its new cantor.

The appointment was confirmed at a special congregational meeting held on April 11, 2012, where the board of trustees and congregation unanimously approved her employment.

Fishbein, a native of St. Louis, MO., is currently a fifth-year cantorial student in the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City, NY. She graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri, Columbia, MO. with a bachelor’s degree in K-12 vocal music education.

Fishbein will assume her duties as cantor of The Temple on July 1st. Bernard Gutcheon, who has served as cantor of The Temple for the past 29 years, will become cantor emeritus of the congregation, continuing to work with b’nai mitzvah students, and available for life cycle events.

“The Cantor Search Committee was captivated by Tracy’s intelligence, warmth and passion,” said Goldstein. “We are confident that her cantorial skills will engage the entire Temple community.”

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner and Williamson counties, and southern Kentucky. Mark Schiftan serves as its senior rabbi, Shana Mackler as its associate rabbi.



Temple Arts Festival (TAF) Holds 8th Annual Exhibition & Sale, April 21-22, 2012 (April 1, 2012)

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Nashville, Tenn. (April 1, 2012) –You won’t want to miss the wonderful works of art available for sale and on display during the Eighth Annual Temple Arts Festival (TAF), slated for the weekend of April 21-22, 2012 in Nashville, Tenn.

Dubbed a “gallery on steroids” by Southwest Airlines’ "Spirit Magazine", TAF is a must-see for any devotee of art, whether you’re always searching to find that special gift for family and friends, or ready to add to or start your own collection of fine art or jewelry.

Fifty master artists and craftsmen from 19 states and the United Kingdom will offer beautiful and extraordinary works of glass, wood & metal sculpture, painting, photography, fiber, and jewelry. With works displayed in museums, galleries and juried exhibitions nationwide, these artists will appeal to patrons of all tastes and budgets.

The Temple Arts Festival will be held at The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom,
5015 Harding Road, next to the Belle Meade Mansion, in Nashville, TN. Ample free parking is available.

A sampling of participating artists include: Sylvia Hyman, a super-realism or trompe l'oeil sculpturer who has been sculpting in clay for the last 49 years of her productive 94 years of life; Bihn Pho, a world-class wood turner and artist of Vietnamese decent; Lisa Svedberg, jewelry designer in high carat gold and platinum; Rusty Wolfe, a two and three-dimensional artist; Ann Makuck, a botanical artist; Joey Richardson, a wood turner; and Diane Davich Craig, an oil on panels artist.

As a juried show, prizes will be awarded to the participating artists for Best of Show, 1st Place in 2-Dimensional Art, and 1st Place in 3-Dimensional Art. This year’s judge is Charles Venable, PhD, director and CEO of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, a leading visual arts venue in the state of Kentucky.

Values for art and jewelry range from $50 to investment. Many of these one-of-a-kind works can be purchased for less than $150. As a fund-raising event for The Temple, no sales tax will be charged and a significant percentage of any purchase may qualify as a charitable donation. (Consult your CPA or tax advisor for complete compliance.)

The festival begins Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm for holders of Advance Purchase Certificates of $250 or more toward the purchase of art and/or jewelry during the show. From 6:30 pm to 8 pm is the Patron's Dinner Party for holders of Advance Purchase Certificates of $125 or more. The Gallery is open to the public from 8 pm to 10 pm at $15 per person. Sunday, April 22, 2012 is free to the public, from 10 am to 5 pm.

Alice Zimmerman is the Temple Arts Festival's 2012 Honorary Chair. The festival's 2012 chairs include: Leah Berman, Rae & Bruce Hirsch, Erica Jacobs, Mary L. Jones, Robb McClusky, Betty Lee Rosen, Suzanne Schulman, Lisa & Stephen Small, Barbara Speller, and LouAnne Wolfson.

Underwriters for the 2012 Temple Arts Festival include: Phyllis Alper, Denise Alper, Ann Bernard, Lisa & Tommy Bernard, Dennis Paper, Donna & Jeffrey Eskind, Judy & Seth Eskind, Bernice & Joel Gordon, Hermitage Lighting Gallery, The Lipman Group, Marlene & Bob Moses, Nashville Cash & Carry, SEI, SunTrust Bank, Barbara & Julian Zander, and Alice Zimmerman.

Sponsors for the 2012 Temple Arts Festival include: Branches, Dessert Designs, Nashville Toffee Company, The Picnic, and media sponsor, "Nashville Arts Magazine."

For further information, visit www.TempleArtsFestival.com, call 615.352.7620, or email taf@templenashville.org.



Dennis Scott - A Child at Heart Who Makes Music to Their Ears (March 26, 2012)

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Nashville, Tenn. (March 26, 2012) With permission as published in the "Jewish Scene Magazine," March/April 2012 Edition. By Joyce Bauman Friedman

In the eyes of the children attending Sunday School at The Temple- Congregation Ohabai Sholom, Dennis Scott is just their music teacher. But, watching him interact with them, you’d say he is the children’s "Music Man."

Alongside the classroom, he leads a Junior Choir whose captivating voices can be heard at High Holy Days and select Shabbot services at The Temple in Nashville. Some songs they sing are the traditional Jewish songs with an occasional, lyrical twist by Scott. And other songs are original Jewish-themed music by this acclaimed songwriter, composer, and lyricist who specializes in the production of children’s musical entertainment.

Just meeting this unassuming Scott, you would never know he has had his songs performed by artists as diverse as Faith Hill, Tanya Tucker, The Muppets, Trisha Yearwood, Sugarland, Crystal Gayle, Gilbert Gottfried, and Ben Vereen, to name a few. You hear his works on radio, television, stage, audio books, home videos, recordings, and even on CD Rom. He writes, produces, and composes custom songs and music for all aspects of the entertainment industry, even such companies as Disney, Sony, The BBC, and Scholastic, among others.

Scott-penned songs have been featured on television shows ranging from "Elmopalooza" to "Fame" and "Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade." His "Always a Friend," performed by Ray Charles on an episode of ABC-TV’s "Who’s the Boss,” continues to generate mail from brides asking permission to use the tune in their weddings.

Scott says nothing compares to the experience of listening to a musical legend perform his work.

“Those are the moments writers live for,” he says. “I’m more thrilled by listening to someone like Ray Charles or Big Bird sing one of my songs than I am by hearing myself sing the song.”

Scott has had his taste of winning several Grammys and Emmys, and being nominated for countless other honors. “Winning a Grammy is sort of like eating potato chips,” he jests. “It’s hard to stop after having just a couple.”

His first Grammy was for composing and producing an album with Jim Henson entitled, "Sesame Street Country," a collection of children’s music with a country flair, which was named Best Recording for Children. That was followed by "Songs from the Neighborhood: Music of Mister Rogers," which received a Grammy as Best Musical for Children.

His Emmy Awards include Music Composer – Arranger with Lyrics for a children’s TV special called, "The All New Trollies Musical Adventure," and another Emmy win for a music composition of another children’s TV series called, "BJ’s Teddy Bear Club." He also received a Daytime Emmy nomination for best original song for a composition featured on the soap opera, "Guiding Light."

And his winning streak continues. Out of 167 entries, Scott and members of his Beatles tribute band, The WannaBeatles, received a nomination at the February 2012 Grammy awards for their spoken-word album, "Fab Fan Memories – The Beatles Bond." The album, hosted by George Harrrison’s sister, Louise Harrison, features a collection of interviews with Beatle’s fans who recount their first memories of the Fab Four. The album also includes original music provided by Scott and The WannaBeatles.

“Our entry was up against such well-knowns as Betty White, Meryl Streep, Dick Cheney, Dick Cavett and Condoleezza Rice,” says Scott. “With that kind of notoriety, we didn’t feel we had a chance, but what an incredible honor it was to be nominated.”

The WannaBeatles did not take home the Grammy, but they drew great consolation in losing to the great Betty White who won for her work, "If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t)."

The WannaBeatles attended the recent 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles where it just so happened that Paul McCartney performed and was honored as MusiCare’s Person of the Year, and for the reissue of McCartney’s "Band on the Run," which won a Grammy for best historical package.

The WannaBeatles never got to meet Paul, but they were about 200 feet from him as they watched him on stage, said band member David Toledo. “I can see the headline now: ‘So close and yet so far.’ I’m trying to stop Dennis from throwing a ‘losers’ party where he sings the Beatles’ ‘I’m a Loser.’"

Their WannaBeatles band plays each weekend around Nashville and the southeast region. And as Scott says, “It is the best job I have ever had because it’s the music I love so much.”

Scott started a band in high school where 90 percent of their repertoire was Beatles music. And now, years later, he has continued his Beatles craze with organizing The WannaBeatles band. “It’s like therapy from my other entertainment work.”

Stage Struck at Age Six. Growing up among a musically inclined family where his father played the piano, his brother the guitar and his mother who enjoyed the theater, Scott was inspired at the age of two and one-half years old to be in “show business,” he said. That garnered only a chuckle from his parents, but they finally relented and introduced him to music lessons at age five.

Scott recounts how a family vacation to the Catskill Mountains at age six during the 1960’s was where his real singing career began.

“We vacationed at the swanky Concord Hotel, the hot bed vacation spot that all Jews in the tri-state area of New York frequented,” recalls Scott. “There, they had top comedians perform, such as Danny Kaye, Jerry Lewis and Buddy Hackett.

“One afternoon, I remember going with my mother to the Concord’s concierge to make dinner reservations for our entire family - parents, grandparents, and brothers - to see the show in their ‘giant’ night club. I wanted to perform on their stage because I had been taking singing lessons and knew what to do. So, I asked the concierge lady if I could perform on the stage, and she just nodded like, ‘Sure you can, kid.’ I took that as a ‘yes’, and started thinking about which of my five songs I was going to sing. But, I didn’t say a word about this to my family.

“When my family was seated at dinner, someone noticed that I had disappeared. They looked up and saw me on the stage. With an extreme air of confidence, I handed my sheet music to the bandleader who looked at me bewildered saying, “What is this?” I told him that the lady at the reservations desk said that I could perform. So, the music started and I sang, “Put on a Happy Face.” Everyone was so surprised to see this kid who could hardly reach the microphone. They encouraged me to sing again, so I continued by belting out a chorus to “High Hopes.”

“Once I heard the applause, I was stage struck,” said Scott. “After my unexpected stage debut, I told my parents that I wanted to be on television next. My Dad immediately put me on top of the television and I blurted, “No, not on it, in it.”

So, his parents secured an agent for Dennis, and entered him into the Professional Children’s School in New York City.

Becoming a child actor meant that he needed to create a stage name. For years, he juggled between his legal, Jewish family name, Dennis Richard Gidseg, and his stage name, Dennis Scott. By college, he permanently changed his legal name to his stage name. His last name, Scott, came from his brother’s middle name.

“People could never get my last name, Gidseg, right,” said Scott. “In fact, my parents began using my stage name whenever they made dinner reservations.”

Scott’s agent landed him on-camera and voice-over commercials with Hi-C® orange drink, Kodak, and Ronzoni® spaghetti.

And, at age 7, Scott became a child actor on Broadway in the Noel Coward musical, “Sailaway,” starring show biz veteran, Elaine Stritch. Scott was just in the chorus, but not for long. More shows followed, including two companies of “The Music Man,” where he co-starred with Eddie Albert (of “Green Acres” fame) and former Miss America host, Bert Parks.

By age 10, his list of theatre, radio and TV credits stacked higher than his 51 inches, appearing on such TV specials as the "Sammy Davis’ Special," the "Jonathan Winters’ Special," and an episode for "Route 66."

A native New Yorker, his variety band, Act IV Music, was a favorite for bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings – especially Jewish weddings in New York where they played from Long Island to Manhattan.

Scott relocated to Nashville in 1989 following his work there on his Grammy-winning “Sesame Street Country.” He enjoyed bringing his band leading skills to Nashville. “I was the only Jewish band leader in Nashville who knew how to play the hora, New York style.”

His latest children’s work is writing and producing a live touring production of "Clifford - The Big Red Dog," a theatrical adaptation of the popular children’s series and book.

Even though the bulk of his income is derived from songwriting, his favorite is being a stand up children’s performer for family nights at various venues, including Mexican Grill.

“It is three hours of total zaniness,” said Scott. “It keeps me in touch with kids. And, when I have new material, I find out right away whether they like it.”

With childhood heroes like Danny Kaye, Jack Benny and Jerry Lewis, Scott says that he cannot help but have a silly side. “Creating and producing music, particularly children’s music, allows me to be as silly and creative as I want to be. And that is music to my ears!”

How to Reach Dennis Scott: Dennis Scott anticipates putting together an album of Jewish music in the near future featuring fun, singable tunes that include Jewish holidays and Bible heroes. For details, he may be reached at dsmusic@comcast.net, or visit his web site at www.dennisscott.net.

About the Writer: Joyce Bauman Friedman is principal/owner of Friedman Communications, a marketing communications firm in Nashville, Tenn. She may be reached at joyceefriedman@gmail.com.






Editorial: Societies Are Defined by How They Treat the Most Vulnerable (March 15, 2012)

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Societies Are Defined by How They Treat the Most Vulnerable

"Tennessee Voices"
Editorial submitted to "The Tennessean", Nashville, Tenn. (March 15, 2012)

By Mark Schiftan
Senior Rabbi of The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom and,
a member of Clergy of Tolerance

More than any other commandment, the authors of the sacred scriptures consistently remind us of the need to love the stranger in our midst. This principle applies to the newcomer, to one who is new to us or who is different from us. We are instructed to extend an ample measure of care, and to offer a significant measure of protection, to them.

We do this in the strong belief that they are to be included in a class of individuals that the Bible refers to as the most vulnerable in society; it is in this sense that the stranger is most often grouped with the widow and the orphan, with those most at risk of misunderstanding, intolerance and abuse. And how we treat those at the margins — the voiceless, the powerless, the weakest — is perhaps the greatest measurement we have as to how we act as a compassionate reflection of the divine image implanted within every human soul.

As our nation struggles with its immigration policies, and as our state legislature attempts to do the same, most of us deal with newcomers to our shores, and to our community, on a totally different level and in much more immediate ways. Regardless of our views on controlling our borders and regardless of our concerns over the need to protect our citizens, we have an ethical and moral responsibility to extend a full measure of care for those who are now here with us.
Should the children of illegal immigrants, for example, be denied the opportunity to attend school? Should those who have come here without permission be denied adequate care, even emergency treatment, because they are less than legal? Should they be denied due process or responsible protection under the law?

And for all those who, like my parents, came here with full legal permission, as refugees in search of a better life, how do we work to ensure that those rights are maintained and protected, both in the workplace and in the halls of government? How do we continue to open our hearts to those who, though new to us, are not so very different from us, and certainly not so different from our ancestors, who also came in search of a better life?

These are not just questions we might ask ourselves; they are the very same questions the Master of the Universe asks of us.



Editorial: Valentine's Blessings of an Empty Nest (Feb. 25, 2012)

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Written by Rabbi Mark Schiftan, Senior Rabbi
The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom
Submitted to and published in The Tennessean as an Editorial on February 25, 2012

For longer than I can remember, Valentine’s Day stood as the harbinger of a predictable string of future events, soon to come, in our busy family’s life: Spring break trips; the promise of warmer days combined with formal and prom nights; the final push towards final exams, end-of-year projects; the creative challenge of mapping out summer plans and adventures for every child...and for the family as a whole.

So...why was this Valentine’s Day night different than all other Valentine’s Day nights? The answer, for us: For the first time in twenty-three years, my wife and I, had the evening all to ourselves.

No homework to monitor; no after-school errands to run; no Hebrew School drop-offs or pick-ups; no sport practices nor games to attend; no teenage “drama” to negotiate...or to endure.

We have always attempted to value every chapter of our lives...to savor each stage and passage...and to try not to wish a single day away.

But now, a new and very different chapter looms before us: For the first time in more than two decades, Valentine’s Day (or at least Valentine’s night) belonged to just the two of us...and that, is no small thing.

We are now empty nesters.

In the rear-view mirror, it seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye. But as any parent will tell you, parenting is a day-by-day mix of wonder and delight, combined with an ample dose of exhaustion, and alongside the endless requirements of endurance, patience and self-sacrifice.

And that doesn’t even come close to describing or including those “special” teenage years ... those years when everything can turn on a dime...and every emotion can turn even more quickly than that....and turn, in turn, upon us: Driver’s licenses and dating, curfews and college applications. As the Yiddish saying goes: “Little children, little headaches; bigger children, bigger headaches.”

Suffice it to say that, at one stretch of time, we had three teenage children living under our roof...bless their hearts.

And yet...we both feel incredibly blessed...and incredibly lucky. We reflect on so many moments of great joy...simple pleasures of every chapter of those years with our children, every day ending with them safely tucked in their beds each night.

To raise a child -- in safety, and in love -- towards adulthood...well, that is no small thing, either. To have the privilege of sharing these wonderful young souls with the world ...well, what greater blessing can there be in life?

And, no, we now know that our work is also not fully done, either: There are still university tuition bills to manage, and the stream of college calls for assistance and advice, often at all hours of the day, and night, which still require a patient, loving and sensitive ear.

But this much, already, is wonderfully different for us: For the first time in many years, even decades, the house is serene and quiet, clear and clean of piles of preschool, adolescent or teenage “stuff” that normally accrue as each academic year goes on. For the first time in years, we have the chance to finish our conversations, uninterrupted by other claims on our attention or focus. We can sleep soundly, again, at night, no longer waiting for our children to make it safely home; and, in fact, most nights, are ours, once again, as well. And, we are able to be more spontaneous in our plans, whether for the evening, or for travel, once again.

So how was this Valentine’s Day evening different than all other nights? It really wasn’t. Now, every night, once again, belongs just to the two of us. Every night, can be Valentine’s Day Night for us.

Every chapter of life, and of our lives, brings its own blessings: This chapter, the blessing is time...once again... just for the two of us.









The Temple Offers CPR & First Aid Training (February 11, 2012)

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Nashville, Tenn. (February 13, 2012) – Instead of standing there helpless not being able to take charge and save a life, you can now be prepared to help by attending the next upcoming CPR training session at The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom on Sunday, March 4, 2012, 9:30 am to 12 pm.

The CPR training session, conducted by Nashville Fire Department Captain Will Swann, will cover CPR, use of an AED defibrillator, and first aid for four major emergencies, including real world experiences.

The fee is $45/person which covers materials and supplies for each participant. Deadline for reservations is February 27, 2012. Your check, payable to The Temple, constitutes your reservation. Send or deliver your payment to: The Temple, 5015 Harding Road, Nashville, TN, 37205.

For further information, contact Lottie Strupp at 615/783-0190.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner and Williamson counties, including southern Kentucky. Mark Schiftan serves as its senior rabbi, Shana Mackler as its associate rabbi, and Bernie Gutcheon as cantor.




The Temple Takes Social Action & Donates $15,000 to Local Charities (February 11, 2012)

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Nashville, Tenn. (February 13, 2012) - In a time of need, when children, men and women are hungry, without shelter, troubled or without hope, and many have lost their jobs or homes, The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom renewed its pledge to help others, giving a financial boost to 12 local charities in the Greater Nashville area.

The Social Action Committee of The Temple has been making donations through its permanent Social Action Funds to area charities since 1971, and this year is no exception, says Chair Carol Fradkin.

Gifts totaling $15,000 were allocated among 12 local charities: Alive Hospice, Better Decisions, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Homework Hotline, Jewish Family Service of Nashville, Nashville Adult Literacy Council (NALC), Nashville Cares, Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC), Planned Parenthood of Middle & East Tennessee, The Temple’s Room in the Inn, Tennessee Justice Center, and Youth Villages.

Just in the past 12 years, The Temple has donated over $260,000 to local charities from its Social Action Funds. Those funds include the Lee & Theresa Kuhn Social Action Fund, Calvin A. Buchman Fund, Memorial Tablet Fund and additional funds generated through direct donations by members in honor of various life cycle events.
Reaching out to those in need is central to the Jewish faith, notes Senior Rabbi Mark Schiftan of The Temple.

“In Judaism, charity giving is viewed as an obligation in Jewish law and tradition,” says Rabbi Schiftan. “Jews have a mandate within our Torah and Talmud to improve the world in which we live, called ‘tikkun olam’. Tikkun olam is achieved through the performance of good deeds; our Social Action Committee was founded on those principles.”

The Temple’s Social Action Committee was founded by past board member Fred Goldner, M.D. and Rabbi Emeritus Randall M. Falk in 1960, and was inspired by the establishment of the Reform Judaism Movement’s first social action center in Washington D.C. in October 1959, called the Religious Action Center (RAC) for Reform Judaism. Since its establishment, the RAC has served as an advocate in Congress on issues ranging from Israel and Soviet Jewry to economic justice; from civil rights to international peace and religious liberty, and continues to be an integral part of some of the most important political and social developments in recent history.

In addition to supporting its local community in a monetary way, The Temple’s Social Action Committee also educates and mobilizes its Temple members on social concerns within the Nashville community on such issues as homelessness, while also performing acts of kindness and good deeds, like participating in a Habitat for Humanity build, providing temporary shelter for homeless women with its onsite Room in the Inn, or holding blood drives.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner and Williamson counties, including southern Kentucky. Mark Schiftan serves as its senior rabbi, Shana Mackler as its associate rabbi, and Bernie Gutcheon as cantor.



Rabbi Rami Shapiro Led Adult Education Series on Meditation Practices (January 22, 2012)

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Rabbi Rami Shapiro, adjunct professor of Religious Studies at Middle Tennessee State University, led The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom's Adult Education Series entitled, “Seek My Face: Jewish Meditation Practices for Meeting God and Being Godly” on two consecutive Sundays, January 22 & 29, 2012.

"Like almost all religions, Judaism has its public and private faces," said Rabbi Shapiro. "The public face focuses on mitzvot and communal worship. The private face focuses on your personal encounter with the Divine."

In this two-seminar series, Rabbi Shapiro introduced several Jewish meditation practices: chanting the 13 Attributes of God, reciting the Sh’ma, and isolating oneself with God. He also helped attendees design their own Jewish practice for a God-encounter.

A congregational rabbi for 20 years, Rabbi Shapiro is an award winning author, poet, essayist, and educator whose poems have been anthologized in over a dozen volumes, and whose prayers are used in prayer books around the world. He received rabbinical ordination from the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion and holds both Ph.D. and D.D. degrees.

In addition to writing books, Rami writes a regular column for "Spirituality and Health" magazine called, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler." His most recent book is "Recovery–the Sacred Art," (Skylight Paths).


Dr. Amy-Jill Levine Spoke at The Temple in January (January 17, 2012)

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For the 11th consecutive year, Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, university professor of New Testament & Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University, spoke at The Temple - Congregation Ohaba Sholom's an annual lecture series, co-sponsored by West End Synagogue.

The lecture series was held on three consecutive Tuesdays in January 2012 at 7 p.m. On January 17th, the topic was "The Bible and the State," followed by "The Bible and Politics" on January 24th. Dr. Levine's final lecture was about "The Bible and Homosexuality," presented on January 31st. The entire community was welcome, and attracted over 300 people each session.

Highly regarded in her field, Levine may soon elevate her mark with her latest project, the publishing of the book, "Jewish Annotated New Testament," which was co-edited with Marc Z. Brettler, the Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies at Brandeis University.

The book features the New Revised Standard Version of the Christian Scriptures with notes and essays from Jewish scholars. It aims to make the New Testament accessible to Jews while teaching Christians about their Jewish roots. And also points out places where Christians get Judaism wrong.

The volume, published in November 2011, by Oxford University Press, is the latest effort in Levine's lifelong quest to give Jews and Christians a better understanding of their faiths.

Rabbi Mark Schiftan of The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom said the success of Levine's lectures and the "Jewish Annotated New Testament" shows how far relationships between Jews and Christians have come.

They began to thaw 50 years ago, he said, when Christian groups started removing anti-Semitic language from their prayers and teaching. Now, he said, Christians and Jews meet together to learn about each other's faith.

"You've got Jews who can sit and learn about the New Testament and not be afraid of it," said Rabbi Schiftan. "And, you've got gentiles gathering in a synagogue to learn about Judaism because it was Jesus' faith."





Editorial: What Would Jesus, the Jew, Do? (Dec. 20, 2011)

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Written by Rabbi Mark Schiftan, Senior Rabbi
The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom

Submitted and as published in “The Tennessean” on Dec. 20, 2011

What would Jesus, the Jew, do? Or more specifically, what would Jesus, the Jew, have done, on the 25th of December, in his ancestral homeland, the Land of Israel?

The answer, most likely, is not too much. It would have been his birthday, of course; but other than that, it would’ve been a normal day.

Christmas, of course, as we know it today, emerged as a sacred holiday for Christians only after Jesus’ life, and death.

But what would Jesus, the Jew, have done on the 25th of Kislev, the Hebrew month that includes the darkest of winter days, and nights? That is a different story.

Jesus, the Jew, would’ve recognized that date as the first day of Hanukkah.

Jesus, the Jew, would’ve celebrated the importance of that day, and all the days, and nights, of that winter Festival of Lights, because they served to remind his people of the importance of religious freedom, and the value of religious pluralism, for all the faithful followers, of all faiths.

But, without a doubt, he and his followers would’ve known about the courage of a group of their ancestors, called the Maccabees, who defended the Temple, and purified it after its liberation. He and his followers would’ve known about the miracle of a single cruze of oil, which, according to legend, kept the Eternal Light of the Temple alive long enough for new oil to be brought to Jerusalem, to continue keep the flame ablaze, even against the darkest of winter nights.

And, without a doubt, Jesus and his fellow Jewish followers, would have treasured the value of their religious liberty and freedom, as symbolized in the victory of the Maccabees, and as relayed to them (and to us) through the message of the story of Hanukkah.

And, without a doubt, the early Christians would’ve treasured it as well.

At this season, as our Christian friends prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and the birth of Christianity, we would ask that they remember to celebrate, and to honor, the faith traditions of their non-Christian neighbors, as well.
Ours is a city, and a state, and a nation, comprised of Christians and Jews, of Buddhists and Hindus, of Muslims and Bahai, and even of those of no faith tradition or belief.
What would Jesus, the Jew, do? He would treasure the Divine image he believed was contained in every human soul, and value the freedom of religious expression, which he fought for in his day, as well.

And that is perhaps the greatest gift of the holiday season, whether that gift is to be found under the tree, or under the menorah, or anywhere under the heavens. At this season, it is that gift that matters most.






Editorial: Civil Discourse as a Sacred Challenge (Nov. 11, 2011)

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Written by Rabbi Mark Schiftan, Senior Rabbi
The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom

Submitted and as published in “The Tennessean,” on November 11, 2011

It is all about how we communicate, isn’t it? It is about the words we speak, and the messages we seek to convey to one another; and it is also about how we listen, and how we try our very best, to comprehend those same messages.

Were we to open a page of Talmud, we would find any number of rabbis and sages arguing and debating their points of view on matters large and small. Though they might appear to the casual eye as if they were all sitting around the same table, they are in fact, often making their case across the miles, and over the centuries of Jewish jurisprudence. The Talmudic text is written precisely in this way; it is constructed so as to give us this window into how we, too, are to engage in dialogue and civil discourse; it is compiled to highlight rabbis who often disagreed passionately, but always respectfully, with one another. It is so that we might learn from sages who listened patiently, and never dismissively, to one another. Both the majority and minority opinions were deemed to be of critical importance; both offered truths; both contained valid points of view; both were embraced; and both had lasting value to the community as a whole. And both made their way into a text that we continue to hold sacred.

All of this collective Jewish wisdom, however, cuts right against the current cultural grain, which encourages a substantially different value base, and which offers a dramatically different example of communal norms and permissible behaviors in this regard. It is one in which it is no longer shocking, nor perhaps surprising, to hear a congressman shout down a president during a State of the Union Address, nor a group of prospective voters at a presidential debate, who choose to boo a serviceman who happens to be openly gay, nor a country singer, who dismissively compares a sitting president to the leader of Nazi Germany. We have allowed ourselves, to become a society in which there are those among us, in ample numbers, who have simply chosen not to listen to ideas that make us uncomfortable, no matter how valid those ideas might be; there are those who ignore other individuals who give voice to concepts, or beliefs, which differ, or deviate, even in a minor way, from their own. There are those whose prime method of communication, or response, is now to stifle or to intimidate, to bully or belittle; to demonize, or demoralize; to attempt to limit, or to squelch, to silence, or to censor, those individuals whose very thoughts and opinions compete against their own.

According to Jewish legend, nearly two thousand years ago, the two rival yeshivot, the two competing Jewish Houses of Study, that of Hillel and that of Shammai, were engaged, yet again, in a fierce verbal battle, about the fine points of Jewish law and tradition. Tempers flared: there was concern of actual physical harm. The voices of the students rose continually higher in volume...and grew continually sharper in tone. No one was listening to the other; they were simply talking over the other, consumed by the supremacy of their own thoughts, and the belief that the other students, and their teachers, and their rabbis, had nothing valid to contribute, and nothing of worth to diffuse to the dialogue. At that precise moment, a heavenly voice proclaims: “Eilu v’eilu hem d’varim Elohim Hayyim” -- “Each of your words,” the heavenly voice proclaims, “Both of your messages, are spoken in the name of the Living God.”

That heavenly voice still seeks to speak to us, to this time, and to this place, in this city, and in this synagogue. But will we choose to listen? Will we hear its message, or will we simply choose to speak over it, or to shout it down, or to dismiss it, or ignore it?

May the words we speak, be pure and sweet...and may we truly listen.
May we hear the voices of those also created in the Divine image...and
may we yet hear the still, small voice...within us. Amen.



Taste of Judaism July Lecture Series Open to the Public (July 10, 2011)

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Nashville, Tenn. ( JULY 8, 2011) – The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom is opening its doors to the public for its annual Taste of Judaism, a three-part lecture series in July that offers individuals, be they Jewish or not, an opportunity to learn or re-learn about the Jewish religion, its practices, customs and beliefs.

Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Ph.D., an award winning author, poet, essayist, and educator, will serve as its guest lecturer. The series will cover a sampling of Jewish texts, traditions, ethics, holidays, lifecycles, and peoplehood.

This community educational series is scheduled for three consecutive Wednesdays in July - July 13, July 20 and July 27, 2011, from 7 pm to 9 pm. It will be held at The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, located at 5015 Harding Road, Nashville, next to the Belle Meade Mansion. Open and free to the public, reservations are requested by calling (615) 352-7620.

Rabbi Shapiro is adjunct professor of Religion and director of The Writers’ Loft at Middle Tennessee State University, and the director of Wisdom House, a center for interfaith study, dialogue, and contemplative practice at the Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville. Auhor of over 20 books on religion and spirituality, Rabbi Shapiro also writes a regular column for Spirituality and Health magazine called “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” and blogs at www.rabbirami.blogspot.com . His most recent books are Recovery, the Sacred Art (Skylight Paths) and Ecclesiastes: Annotated and Explained. He can be reached via his web site at www.rabbirami.com.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson Counties. Mark Schiftan serves as its senior rabbi, Shana Goldstein Mackler as its associate rabbi, and Bernie Gutcheon as cantor.





Corye Nelson Named New Playschool Director (October 18, 2010)

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Nashville, Tenn. (Oct. 18, 2010) - Corye E. Nelson of Nashville has been named director of The Temple Playschool in Belle Meade, a division of The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation.

Jan Huettner will resume her duties as associate director. She served as The Temple Playschool’s director for the past two years.

As director, Nelson oversees the daily operations of the playschool’s infants through pre-kindergarten program, which includes a teaching staff of 17 and up to 100 children, ages 6 weeks to 5 years of age.

The Temple Playschool’s curriculum is based on the National Association of the Education of Young Children’s guidelines of developmentally appropriate practices, and holds a three- star rating from the Tennessee Department of Human Services’ Star-Quality Program.

For the past 10 years, Nelson served as director of Westminster School for Young Children’s Toddlers and Two’s Program as well as director of Westminister Presbyterian Church’s nursery program.

She holds a bachelor’s of science degree in childcare administration and childhood psychology from Belmont University.

Nelson is an active member within the early childhood industry, showing a passion for leadership in early childhood education. As a board member of the Nashville Area Association for the Education of Young Children, Nelson serves as chair of its Accreditation Committee. As a board member of the Tennessee Association for the Education of Young Children, she serves on its Finance Committee and is chair of its 2012 Conference Committee.

She is also a member of the Southern Early Childhood Association. Nelson also serves as a continuing education speaker at early childhood conferences on topics ranging from communicating with toddlers to room arrangement. Her community involvement includes holding parenting classes at the Tennessee Prison for Women.

“As director of The Temple Playschool, it is my honor and my duty to inspire and educate teachers and parents to communicate effectively with children, and provide them with activities that they can master as well as those that can challenge them,” says Nelson.

Jan Huettner has been with The Temple Playschool for 29 years, beginning part-time as its music director in 1982 and starting full-time in 1989 as its associate director.

The Temple Playschool is open to the Greater Nashville community, and offers full-time care for up to 100 children between the ages of 6 weeks to 5-years-old. It is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 5:30 pm. For enrollment information, call (615) 356-8009.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom (www.templenashville.org) is a reform Jewish congregation, with over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson counties.




Temple Unveils Newly Designed Torah Covers for High Holy Days (August 30, 2010)

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Nashville, Tenn. (August 30, 2010) - In preparation for the Jewish High Holy Days, The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Nashville has added a fresh new look to its Torah scroll collection, the oldest and most sacred document used in its services.

The Torah scrolls, resting in the ark of The Temple, are receiving newly designed High Holy Day covers, or mantles, to be displayed as a visual focal point during The Temple’s upcoming Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services.

Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown on Wed., September 8, 2010, and Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement” – the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, begins at sundown on Fri., September 17, 2010.

“During the month of Elul, before the month of September, Jews prepare for the High Holy Days by examining our lives,” says Senior Rabbi Mark Schiftan of The Temple. “During this period of self-examination and introspection, we look back over the previous year – over our accomplishments and over our regrets, and work toward “teshuvah”, repentance or turning, in order to live more fully in the year ahead of us. We make apologies to our family and friends, and we attempt to bring our lives into alignment with God’s commands.”

To set the tone for the upcoming High Holy Days, it is customary in the Jewish religion to have the year-round, brilliantly decorated Torah covers changed into their ceremonial white High Holy Day covers during a special service seven days before Rosh Hashanah known as S’lichot, the Hebrew word meaning “forgiveness.” The S’lichot service on Friday, September 3, 2010, 5:45 p.m. will bless and dedicate The Temple’s new Torah covers.

S’lichot, the penitential prayers recited by Jews during the High Holy Day season, is echoed in the use of white Torah covers, signifying purity and the beginning of a clean slate. Traditionally, the Holy Day season is a time of reflection, forgiveness, repentance and good deeds, representing an opportunity for a fresh start and a promise to do better in the year to come.

The Temple’s Beautification Committee oversaw the commissioning of the new High Holy Day Torah covers, which was made possible by the generous donation of members Julian (Bud) and Barbara Zander, Jr. The new Torah covers were custom designed by tapestry and weaving artists, Yael Lurie and Jean Pierre Larochette, a husband and wife team in Burkeley, Ca. They are hand woven tapestries in the Aubusson technique. Each one is made of wool, cotton, and silk wefts on cotton warp, and mounted on velvet.

The replaced High Holy Day covers, which were handcrafted by a former congregant and Holocaust survivor, Rosemary May, will be preserved as an historic artifact of The Temple, and displayed during each High Holy Day season.

The significance of the three words inscribed on The Temple’s new High Holy Day Torah covers is profound. One of eight covers has the shofar calling out the Hebrew word, tefillah (prayer). Two other covers have the Hebrew inscriptions, teshuva (repentence, or turning), and tzedakah (good works or deeds). A repetitive sequence of the Star of David comprises the basic element of the overall composition. The covers, in gold, aqua and magenta, correspond with the existing colors in the Temple’s sanctuary and echo the theme of the holidays.

“Despite the awesome judgment proclaimed by Yom Kippur – who shall live and who shall die – the message of the Days of Awe emphasizes the possibility that through teshuvah (repentance), tefilah (prayer), and tzedakah (good works), we can change and make the year ahead one of sweetness and hope,” Rabbi Schiftan said.

The Torah is the founding religious document of Judaism, containing its written law, the Five Books of Moses. The Torah scroll is a copy of the Torah, written in Hebrew on parchment in a formal, traditional manner by a specially trained scribe under strict requirements.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson counties.




The Temple Announces New Board Officers for 2010-2011: Randy Goldstein to Lead 750-Member Family Congregation (June 10, 2010)

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Nashville, Tenn. ( June 10, 2010) – Randy Goldstein has been named president of The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Belle Meade. He will lead its 750-member family congregation for a one-year term.

Other newly elected officers are: Vice President Rafael “Ray” H. Berk; Treasurer Ralph Z. Levy, Jr.; and Secretary Martin Sir, all of Nashville, all of Nashville.

Goldstein is the 56th president of The Temple, which has historical beginnings dating back to 1851 in Nashville when The Temple purchased cemetery property. He has served on The Temple’s Board of Trustees since 2000, and was past chair of its Annual Giving and Burn the Debt campaigns.

Goldstein also is senior vice president of Morgan Keegan & Company in Nashville, serving as a financial advisor, a position he has held for the past 15 years there.

Other non-profit organizations that have benefited from Goldstein’s community involvement include serving on the board of directors of the Adventure Science Center (formerly Cumberland Science Museum); the Sexual Assault Center (formerly the Rape & Sexual Abuse Center) where he served as past treasurer; the Jewish Foundation of Nashville where he served as past budget & finance chair; along with Ensworth School and the Jewish Federation of Nashville.

Vice President Ray H. Berk is principal of the law firm Ray H. Berk, Attorney at Law, specializing in personal injury, products liability and business litigation. Treasurer Ralph Z. Levy Jr. serves as Of Counsel in the Nashville office of Dickinson Wright PLLC, where he specializes in the corporate, healthcare enterprises and estate planning areas. Secretary Martin Sir is an attorney of the law office of Martin Sir & Associates, specializing in personal injury and divorce.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson Counties. Mark Schiftan serves as its senior rabbi, Shana Goldstein Mackler as its associate rabbi, and Bernie Gutcheon as cantor.


Local Baptist Church & Jewish Temple Open Their Doors This Weekend for Benefit Concert for Nashville Symphony Orchestra (May 14, 2010)

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Nashville, Tenn. (May 14, 2010) – Belmont Heights Baptist Church and The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom are opening their doors to the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra this Saturday and Sunday, May 15 & 16, at 4 pm to perform two free benefit concerts to support the flood recovery efforts for the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

The church and temple venues were chosen because the recent torrent rains flooded the Cumberland River and swelled its riverbanks into the basement of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, destroying valuable musical instruments stored there. The donations will help fund the replacement of these musical instruments as well as the restoration of the symphony’s basement.

The concert is open to the public and free of charge. Belmont Heights Baptist Church is located at 2100 Belmont Blvd. The Jewish Temple is located at 5015 Harding Road, next to the Belle Meade Mansion.

“It is truly special when musicians want to make a difference,” says Rebecca Willie, violinist in the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and concertmaster of the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra. “Our professional orchestra is especially honored to have the volunteers of the philharmonic orchestra give so generously of their talents and time to help us recover from the flooding.”

The Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra (NPO) is a volunteer community orchestra, led by Music Director Chris Norton, that offers an opportunity for adults of differing skill levels to make music together. Founded in January 2004, the NPO performs concerts free of charge to the public with a diverse mix of repertoire for all audiences - different genres and styles anchored in the classical tradition. The orchestra routinely features area soloists and new music by local composers.

This benefit concert will feature the winners of the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra's 2010 Concerto Competition. Annie Bender, a native of Franklin, will perform a movement from the Saint-Saens Violin Concerto in B-minor, and Alan Fey will perform a movement of the Concerto for Marimba and Strings by Ewazen. The concert program will also include music by Gabrieli, Rimsky-Korsakov/Ramm, Rossini, Walton and Ravel.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson counties.

For more information about the benefit concert for the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, please visit www.nashvillephilharmonic.org.





In a Time of Great Need, The Temple Gives $15,000 to 12 Nashville Charities (April 28, 2010)

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Nashville, Tenn. (April 28, 2010) - In this time of great need, when more children, men and women are hungry, without shelter, troubled or without hope, and so many friends and neighbors have lost jobs or homes, The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom renewed its pledge to help others, giving a financial boost to 12 local charities in the Greater Nashville area.

The Social Action Committee of The Temple has been making donations through its permanent Social Action Funds to area charities since 1971, and this year is no exception, says Chair Ann Gilbert.

“Our 2009 investments took a big hit, just like everyone else, but despite it all, we are able to still maintain our tradition of giving to strengthen Nashville as we have always done this time each year,” says Gilbert.

Gifts totaling $15,000 were allocated among 12 local charities: Better Decisions; Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Davidson County; Homework Hotline; Jewish Family Services’ Helping Hands Program; National Adult Literacy Council (NALC); Nashville Cares; Neighborhood Resource Center; Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC); The Temple’s Room-in-the-Inn Program; Tennessee Justice Center; Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, and Youth Villages.

Just in the past 10 years, The Temple has donated over $230,000 to local charities from its Social Action Funds. Those funds include the Lee & Theresa Kuhn Social Action Fund, Calvin A. Buchman Fund, Memorial Tablet Fund and additional funds generated through direct donations by members in honor of various life cycle events.
Congregant Carol Fradkin, a member of The Temple’s Social Action Allocation Committee, is of the opinion that very few Jewish congregations are in a position to afford to donate this much.

“Before joining The Temple, I belonged to Jewish congregations in four other states, and they never had this much money to give to secular community organizations in one lump sum, year after year,” she says.

Reaching out to those in need is central to the Jewish faith, notes Senior Rabbi Mark Schiftan of The Temple.

“In Judaism, charity giving is viewed as an obligation in Jewish law and tradition,” says Rabbi Schiftan. “Jews have a mandate within our Torah and Talmud to improve the world in which we live, called ‘tikkun olam’. Tikkun olam is achieved through the performance of good deeds; our Social Action Committee was founded on those principles.”

The Temple’s Social Action Committee was founded by past board member Fred Goldner, M.D. and Rabbi Emeritus Randall M. Falk in 1960, and was inspired by the establishment of the Reform Judaism Movement’s first social action center in Washington D.C. in October 1959, called the Religious Action Center (RAC) for Reform Judaism.

Since its establishment, the RAC has served as an advocate in Congress on issues ranging from Israel and Soviet Jewry to economic justice; from civil rights to international peace and religious liberty, and continues to be an integral part of some of the most important political and social developments in recent history.

In addition to supporting its local community in a monetary way, The Temple’s Social Action Committee also educates and mobilizes its Temple members on social concerns within the Nashville community on such issues as homelessness, while also performing acts of kindness and good deeds, like participating in a Habitat for Humanity build, providing temporary shelter for homeless women with its onsite Room in the Inn, or holding blood drives.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson counties.

For further information on how to be considered for The Temple’s 2010 Social Action Committee allocation, contact Chair Ann Gilbert at 615/352- 7620, or anngilbert623@yahoo.com.



The Temple Honors Rabbi Randall Falk for 50 Years of Service (January 4, 2010)

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Nashville, Tenn. (January 4, 2010) – Rabbi Emeritus Randall M. Falk of The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, is being recognized on January 15, 2010 by his congregation for 50 years of service to The Temple and the Nashville community as a voice for the underprivileged and minorities. His tribute is part of The Temple’s Celebration of Brotherhood in observance of Martin Luther King Day and commemorating the social action efforts of Falk who was a civil rights activist.

Rabbi Falk became rabbi of The Temple in 1960 and quickly became one of Nashville’s most active and vocal clergymen, confronting racial segregation by supporting integration at lunch counters. He worked with Rev. Kelly Miller Smith of First Baptist Church, the congregation’s pastor and a civil rights leader, and others, to help prepare African-American students for the violence they would face.

With Rev. Sam Dodson, pastor of Calvary Methodist Church, Falk organized the first march of clergy in the country on May 6, 1964, demanding integration of public accommodations. They led a group of 130 Nashville-area religious leaders of all faiths down West End Avenue to the Metropolitan Courthouse in a dramatic response to former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnon’s urgent call for moral leadership by the clergy. They submitted a program to former Nashville Mayor Beverly Briley requesting complete integration of all grades in the public schools, a public accommodations ordinance, public desegregated recreation facilities, and desegregation of all metropolitan government agencies. Falk was a founding member, and later chairman, of the Metro Human Relations Commission, created in 1965 to encourage civil rights.

Rabbi Falk’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement was supported by the efforts of other Temple members. In the midst of 1968 civil unrest and divided citizenry, the late Bernard Werthan Sr., (a past president of The Temple), with other prominent businessmen and community leaders, founded the Nashville Urban League, a chapter of the national league which seeks to eliminate discrimination.

Falk’s commitment to justice and harmony led him to help organize several other community organizations in Nashville, including the Interfaith Association, the Nashville Association of Rabbis, Priests and Ministers, and the Nashville Network. He was also instrumental in bringing the National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ) to Nashville. The NCCJ of Nashville, a human relations organization dedicated to fighting racism, bigotry and bias, left its affiliation in 2007 with the national organization and became CommunityNashville.

His efforts to promote brotherhood have been recognized with numerous awards, including the Sage Award, the Crowing Achievement Award, and the Human Relations Award from the local chapters of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and the Metropolitan Nashville Human Relations Commission.

Falk explained that his motivation for involvement in the civil rights movement was two-fold. “The prophets,” he said, “challenge us to be concerned with justice for people of all races, nations and creeds because we [Jews] were slaves in Egypt and know the suffering of the oppressed.” The second was the coincidence of his birth in Little Rock and his graduating from the high school in which the Arkansas governor tried to block integration. “I felt personally involved and committed to help change old southern patterns and prejudices,” he said in an interview several years ago.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson counties.

For more information about The Temple’s Celebration of Brotherhood, contact Chair Robb McCluskey at 615/568-1786, or robbmccluskey@yahoo.com.





The Temple Shares the Meaning of Martin Luther King Day, Across the Past, Present and Future (January 4, 2010)

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Nashville, Tenn. (January 4, 2010) – A Jubilee Weekend: A Celebration of Brotherhood will be observed at The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Shalom, the weekend of January 15, combining the observance of Martin Luther King Day and commemorating social action efforts by some of its members.

The event will pay tribute to civil rights activist Rabbi Emeritus Randall M. Falk, marking the 50th anniversary of his service to The Temple and the Nashville community as a voice for the underprivileged and minorities, and to the social realist work of artist Ben Shahn whose artwork is on permanent display at The Temple.

Hazel O’Leary, president of Fisk University, and the Fisk Jubilee Singers will be special guests at The Temple’s Friday night Sabbath evening service at 5:45 p.m. The weekend will include a reading and lecture by author Tim Wise, an anti-racist writer and activist, at 10 a.m., Sunday, January 17.

The Temple’s Mosaic Art by Famed Artist Ben Shahn Unveiled 50 Years Ago

The Temple’s first major artwork, a mosaic entitled The Call of the Shofar was commissioned and designed by Shahn and erected 50 years ago when city officials were in heated discussions about integration and civil rights.

“The mosaic, unveiled in 1960, still speaks to us today,” says Betty Lee Rosen, chair of The Temple’s Beautification Committee. “The art is a powerful, intellectually and artistically provocative piece. It transmits a message about the people of Nashville and the importance of unity and community.”

The mosaic represents racial equality with an outstretched hand that symbolizes God’s calling to unite mankind into one community of brotherhood, depicted as five different heads as the five races of man.

Shahn, a Lithuanian-born American artist (1898-1969), is well-known for his 1965 portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr. which appeared on the cover of Time as well as for his works on social realism and his series of lectures published as The Shape of Content. Shahn was a commercial artist for CBS, Time, Fortune and Harper’s. The Art Directors Club Hall of Fame recognizes him as “one of the greatest masters of the 20th century.”

“The importance of social action and social justice has long been part of the strong foundation of this congregation, and this artistic creation is an echo of our congregation’s goals and an impressive reminder of what is important in our lives,” says Patty Marks, president of The Temple Congregation Ohabai Sholom.


photo by Steve Shapiro


Randall Falk Marks 50 Years as Temple Rabbi and Recognized as Civil Rights Activist

A high point of the weekend will be recognition of Rabbi Falk who became rabbi of The Temple in 1960 and quickly became one of Nashville’s most active and vocal clergymen, confronting racial segregation by supporting integration at lunch counters. He worked with Rev. Kelly Miller Smith of First Baptist Church, the congregation’s pastor and a civil rights leader, and others, to help prepare African-American students for the violence they would face.

With Rev. Sam Dodson, pastor of Calvary Methodist Church, Falk organized the first march of clergy in the country on May 6, 1964, demanding integration of public accommodations. They led a group of 130 Nashville-area religious leaders of all faiths down West End Avenue to the Metropolitan Courthouse in a dramatic response to former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnon’s urgent call for moral leadership by the clergy. They submitted a program to former Nashville Mayor Beverly Briley requesting complete integration of all grades in the public schools, a public accommodations ordinance, public desegregated recreation facilities, and desegregation of all metropolitan government agencies. Falk was a founding member, and later chairman, of the Metro Human Relations Commission, created in 1965 to encourage civil rights.

Rabbi Falk’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement was supported by the efforts of other Temple members. In the midst of 1968 civil unrest and divided citizenry, the late Bernard Werthan Sr., (a past president of The Temple), with other prominent businessmen and community leaders, founded the Nashville Urban League, a chapter of the national league which seeks to eliminate discrimination.

Falk’s commitment to justice and harmony led him to help organize several other community organizations in Nashville, including the Interfaith Association, the Nashville Association of Rabbis, Priests and Ministers, and the Nashville Network. He was also instrumental in bringing the National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ) to Nashville. The NCCJ of Nashville, a human relations organization dedicated to fighting racism, bigotry and bias, left its affiliation in 2007 with the national organization and became CommunityNashville.

His efforts to promote brotherhood have been recognized with numerous awards, including the Sage Award, the Crowing Achievement Award, and the Human Relations Award from the local chapters of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and the Metropolitan Nashville Human Relations Commission.

Falk explained that his motivation for involvement in the civil rights movement was two-fold. “The prophets,” he said, “challenge us to be concerned with justice for people of all races, nations and creeds because we [Jews] were slaves in Egypt and know the suffering of the oppressed.” The second was the coincidence of his birth in Little Rock and his graduating from the high school in which the Arkansas governor tried to block integration. “I felt personally involved and committed to help change old southern patterns and prejudices,” he said in an interview several years ago.

Fisk Jubilee Singers to Perform at The Temple’s Jubilee Celebration of Brotherhood

Rabbi Falk taught at Fisk University during the 1970s and this prompted Temple organizers to invite the Fisk Jubilee Singers to be a part of the celebration weekend. The Jubilee Singers, recipients of the 2008 National Medal of Arts, will perform Old Testament-type spirituals at the kickoff celebration following the service Friday evening.

The National Medal of Arts is the nation’s highest recognition of artists for their historical contribution to American music. Among the more than 200 previous recipients of the medal are writer Ralph Ellison, painter Georgia O’Keeffe, jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie, and illustrator Stan Lee. Along with the Fisk Jubilee Singers, other Tennesseans who have been awarded the medal include Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash.

Anti-Racist Writer Tim Wise to Speak at The Temple’s Book Club

Another planned event for The Temple’s Jubilee Celebration of Brotherhood will be the book reading and lecture by Tim Wise, prominent anti-racist author and activist. Wise, a former religious school student of The Temple, will discuss his book, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son. His most recent book, Between Barack and a Hard Place: Race and Whiteness in the Age of Obama, was released last spring.

He is the 2008 Oliver L. Brown Distinguished Visiting Scholar for Diversity Issues at Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas, and has spoken in 48 states and on more than 400 college campuses and community groups.

From 1999 to 2003, Wise was an advisor to the Fisk University Race Relations Institute, and in the early 1990s was associate director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism, the largest of the many groups organized to defeat neo-Nazi political candidate, David Duke.

Wise has provided anti-racism training to teachers nationwide, and has trained physicians and medical industry professionals on how to combat racial inequities in health care. He has also trained corporate, government, entertainment, military and law enforcement officials on methods for dismantling racism in their institutions.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson counties.

For more information about the Jubilee Celebration of Brotherhood, contact Chair Robb McCluskey at 615/568-1786, or robbmccluskey@yahoo.com.




Reform & Orthodox Congregations Unite as One for Trip to Israel in December 2009 (November 11, 2009)

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Nashville, Tenn. (Nov. 11, 2009) - Two Nashville congregations from different ends of the Jewish religious spectrum are traveling together to Israel in December, marking a first for both and the first for any two Nashville Jewish congregations, says local rabbis.

Members of The Temple and Sherith Israel congregations in Nashville have planned their trip for December 16-27, 2009. The Temple is a Reform Jewish congregation and Sherith Israel, an Orthodox one. The tour group of 30 includes participants who are both first-timers and veteran travelers to Israel.

To celebrate this significant event, an historical pulpit exchange was held between Sherith Israel's Rabbi Saul Strosberg and The Templs Rabbi mark Schiftan a few weeks ago where each spoke at the other's Shabbat services.

Rabbi Shana Mackler, associate rabbi of The Temple, will share leadership of the trip with Sherith Israel’s Rabbi Strosberg. They have been meeting regularly to learn more about the trip, what to pack and what to expect beyond their busy itinerary.

"Sherith Israel and The Temple are very outwardly pro-Israel," says Rabbi Strosberg. "We'll be spending quality time together in Israel, celebrating the country we love so much."

“What a unique opportunity for us all to travel together, all from Nashville, bringing together two different Jewish congregations," said rabbi Mackler. "The excitement is building; we're counting down the days.”

She pointed out that the itinerary reflects their similarities and differences. The trip will include attending two Shabbat services in Jerusalem. "If we separate for Shabbat worship services, we will come together to eat our Sabbath dinner side-by-side," said Rabbi Mackler.

The itinerary also includes the opportunity to engage with Israelis, to participate in a social action project, visit a West Bank town, and to meet with the first Ethiopian member of the Knesset.

The Knesset is the legislative branch of the Israeli government which enacts laws, elects the president and prime minister, supervises the work of the government, reserves the power to remove the president of the state and the state comptroller from office and to dissolve itself and call new elections. Every four eyars, 120 members of the Knesset are elected by Israeli citizens who must be at least 18 years old to vote.

“We will be in Israel for Chanukah, the Festival of Lights,” said Rabbi Strosberg, “and I hope we will receive light from Israel and bring light back with us."

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville, Tenn.'s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson counties.

Congregation Sherith Israel (www.sherithisrael.com) is a century-old Orthodox synagogue in Nashville, Tenn., and a member of the Orthodox Union.


Ninth Annual Nashville Jewish Film Festival Shows Nov. 7 - 12, 2009 (October 8, 2009)

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Nashville, Tenn. (October 8, 2009) - Films of art, drama, romance, comedy, animation, Jewish history, and even, baseball and sumo wrestling, are among those selected for this year’s 9th Annual Nashville Jewish Film Festival (NJFF), scheduled for November 7 – 12, 2009.

Event organizers say that the Nashville Jewish Film Festival speaks in several different languages. But no matter what the language, the festival tells stories we all can understand – stories of social justice, moral courage, conflict, determination to reach for a dream, triumph and failure as well as humor.

With more matinees and late-night screenings, film connoisseurs will have a veritable buffet of movies to choose from that touch the heart and challenge the mind. Thirteen powerful and entertaining films for audiences of all ages are planned for screening over six days at the Belcourt Theatre in Hillsboro Village, 2101 Belcourt Avenue, Nashville, Tenn. Most of the films have won numerous awards throughout the world. To encourage dialogue and exploration, several of the filmmakers will be on hand for discussions immediately following the screenings.

“The selection and range of films to be shown exemplifies the festival’s commitment to Nashville’s art scene and support of the art of filmmaking,” says NJFF Co-Director Laurie Eskind. “The films also are windows for non-Jews into the Jewish world. The films carry us from New York City to Hungary to Israel, telling stories of the past, or directly from today’s headlines.”

In a special partnership with the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, the Nashville Jewish Film Festival will offer a free pre-festival screening of “Herb & Dorothy” in the Frist Auditorium as part of the Frist’s Films at the Frist series on Sunday, November 1, 2009, at 3 p.m.. This documentary film will appeal to artists, art collectors and art lovers, alike. “Herb & Dorothy” is a story about Herb and Dorothy Vogel, two of the most unassuming and the most remarkable collectors on the contemporary art scene who amassed over 4,000 pieces of minimalist and conceptual art. It is one of the largest and most important collections in the world.

Another film about art from a powerful historical perspective is “As Seen Through These Eyes,” a never-before-seen window into the surviving art and artists of the Holocaust. To be shown on Tues., Nov. 10, 7 p.m., this documentary, narrated by renowned poet Maya Angelou and directed by Hilary Helstein, brings together artwork, archival footage and firsthand interviews to reveal a powerful story of a brave group of people, many of whom were children, who fought Hitler with the only weapons they had: charcoal, pencil stubs, shreds of paper and memories etched in their minds.

Opening night, on Sat., November 7, starts at 7:15 p.m. with “Seven Minutes in Heaven.” It is a quietly powerful Israeli neo-noir thriller, brilliantly directed by first-time feature filmmaker Omri Givon. Showing exactly one year after a Jerusalem bus bombing, the story is full of drama and romance about a woman who spends the last year recovering from this terrorist bus bombing, and trying to piece the events surrounding the bombing in order to move forward with her life.

“Mary and Max” follows at 9 p.m. as the film festival’s first late-night screening. It is an animation by Oscar-winning director Adam Elliot and brought to life by the bravura voice work of Toni Collette and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The story is a bittersweet tale of a friendship between two oddballs at their wits’ end with the world, but at peace with each other. This film was also the opening night selection for the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and has received numerous awards in 2009, including the AniMovi Award for Best Animated Feature Film by the Festival of Animated Film Stuttgart in Germany.

Films entertaining for 13-year-olds and up, include “Sixty-Six,” a hilarious, family-friendly story based on the real life experience of Director Paul Weiland. To be shown on Sun., Nov. 8, 4:45 p.m., the story is about Weiland’s coming-of-age tale in planning his long awaited bar mitzvah after living in the shadows of his charismatic older brother and discovering that his big event falls on the very same day as the World Cup Final.

Another film for young teens and the family is the heroic, historical account of Hannah Senesh in “Blessed is the Match: The Life & Death of Hannah Senesh,” to be shown Sun., November 8, 12 p.m. This film is a gripping story of a 22-year-old poet, resistance fighter and modern-day Joan of Arc who left the safety of Palestine to bravely join a rescue mission with a small band of Jewish volunteers to parachute into her native Hungary during World War II to save her mother and others. This documentary, with moving eyewitness accounts, won numerous awards, including Best Documentary at the Garden State Film Festival (2009), 10 audience awards in Jewish film festivals around the world.

The Nashville Jewish Film Festival closes on Thurs., Nov. 12, starting at 4:30 p.m. with “At Home in Utopia.” This epic documentary about the United Workers Cooperative Colony, a housing complex, commonly known as “the Coops,” created and populated 80 years ago by American Communists and their sympathizers, is the tale of the struggle for human justice and racial equality.

This film tracks the rise and fall of this experimental community from the 1920s into the 1950s where historians claim that the Coops helped to pioneer a whole format of nonprofit cooperative housing in New York.
Following At Home in Utopia is “A Matter of Size,” at 7 p.m., the Nashville Jewish Film Festival’s closing night film. A Matter of Size is a poignant comic drama, à la “The Full Monty,” about self-acceptance and determination of four overweight Israelis who start a Sumo wrestling club. This film is a winner of Best Comedy by Traverse City Film Festival in Michigan (2009) as well as a nominee for Best Picture at the Israeli Academy Awards (2009).

The Nashville Jewish Film Festival, founded in 2000 by The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom, was established to educate, enrich and create a forum for the Nashville community to become acquainted with the complexities and realities of Jewish life, culture and history in the 20th and 21st centuries through a mix of documentaries, feature length films and shorts. The Nashville Jewish Film Festival is not a fundraiser, but a community educational happening that is self-funded through sponsorships and ticket sales. The films shown at this festival represent just a small sampling of the hundreds of films available that embrace Jewish culture, history, thought, customs and traditions from around the world. Jewish Film Festivals are held in communities across the country, attracting the interests of Jews and non-Jews. A Jewish film does not always include Jewish actors or directors, but there is a common thread that runs through them about the Jewish experience.

“As the Nashville Jewish Film Festival continues to expand its offerings, it also continues to expand our community’s horizons,” says Senior Rabbi Mark Schiftan of The Temple. “Nashville is a city of constantly increasing diversity, but even as we welcome that diversity, events such as the Nashville Jewish Film Festival are vital, since they help deepen our understanding of one another.”

Representatives serving as organizers of the 2009 Nashville Jewish Film Festival are Co-Directors Laurie Eskind, Jackie Karr, Cindy Moskovitz and Loretta Saff, all of Nashville.

The public is invited to view all film screenings. Tickets are $9 each, and matinee films shown before 6 p.m. are $7. Discounted tickets are available at $6 each for students, seniors 65+ and groups of 10 or more. The All Festival Pass, good for tickets to all films and special events, is $125 each. The $45 Reel Deal Pass, for those 25 years of age or under, is good for tickets to all films.

New to the festival is the ability to purchase tickets online at www.nashvillejewishfilmfestival.org . Tickets also may be purchased at the Belcourt Theatre box office. Parking is available behind the Belcourt Theatre. For a complete list of Nashville Jewish Film Festival’s films, show dates and times, please visit their web site. For more information, call 615/356-1322 or e-mail nashvillejewishfilmfest@gmail.com .



Anniversary of 9/11 Inspires Community to Build: Unity Build for Habitat Planned Involving 18 Nashville Congregations (August 24, 2009)

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Nashville, Tenn. (August 24, 2009) – While the nation marks the eighth anniversary of the horror of the 9/11 destruction, members of 18 Nashville religious congregations and organizations will gather in a more positive light to observe the date as a kickoff for a special Habitat for Humanity Unity Build.

The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, will invite participating congregations on Friday, September 11, 2009, 7:30 p.m. to share in a special Shabbot service as a sacred kickoff to Habitat’s Unity Build, the coming together of diverse religions with one sacred mission of building homes for low-income families. The Unity Build begins Saturday, September 12, 2009, and continues each weekend through September and the first weekend in October.

The ecumenical gathering is in line with one of Habitat’s own principles that states, “We believe in bridging theological differences, using the hammer as an instrument to manifest God’s love.” The first Unity Build was organized in 1994 and this marks its 17th house.

The Temple’s Rabbi Mackler pointed out that the Book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is, “a time to break down, and a time to build up…Eighteen congregations will come together to tear down and to build up. To tear down separation, to build up understanding; to tear down walls, to build up bridges; to tear down divide, to build up a home.”

Rabbi Mackler further noted that every Habitat for Humanity house has its own special story behind it. “And so this house,” she said, “will have its own unique story; a story of perhaps unlikely partnership. It is a tale of friendship, a chronicle of God’s universal love. We are bringing together different faith traditions, each with its unique outlook on life, but with a shared sense of duty, to our city, our community and the world. As partners with God in this work of creation, we are coming together to improve the life of this deserving family whose home we are helping to build; and, we are strengthening the life and bonds of our community in Nashville.”

Clergy from diverse religions throughout Nashville will take part in the service. Among the clergy who will be featured in the service are: Minister Peter van Eys of Calvary United Methodist Church; Reverend Theodore Bryson of Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist, and Minister Rus Roach of First Baptist Church. Rabbis Mark Schiftan and Shana Goldstein Mackler of The Temple will lead the service. Members of all the participating churches are invited as well as the general public.

The homes will be built in the Timberwood subdivision, located off Brick Church and Briley Parkway. Monique Gardner, recipient of the home of this build, will be a special guest at the service.

Alan Mazer, who is leading The Temple’s volunteer Habitat build group, explained that the present economy has made it difficult for any one organization to raise the amount of money needed for a single undertaking.

“Since each congregation wanted to participate, Habitat has made it a joint venture which should make it possible to spread the cost, attract more volunteers and build several houses,” he said.

Following the Fri., September 11th evening Jewish services at The Temple, Charles Sprintz, a Habitat for Humanity board member, will sponsor the reception, called an Oneg Shabbot, with refreshments and fellowship.
Organizations taking part in Habitat’s Unity Build are: Bellevue Presbyterian Church; Belle Meade United Methodist Church (UMC); Calvary UMC; Christ the King Catholic Church; East End UMC; First Baptist Church; First Unitarian Universalist Church; First Evangelical Lutheran and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church; Forest Hills UMC; Gordon Memorial UMC; Hillcrest UMC; Hillsboro Presbyterian Church; Monroe Street/Jordonia UMC and Church Women United; Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church and The Stones River District Association; South End UMC and The Sertoma Club of Nashville; St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church; The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom, and Woodbine UMC.

The Temple’s assigned day to work Habitat’s Unity Build is Saturday, October 4, 2009. Habitat volunteers require no special skills. The typical workday on a Habitat project begins at 7 a.m. and lasts through mid-afternoon.

To volunteer for Habitat’s Unity Build, call any one of the churches or congregations listed above, or contact Alan Mazer of The Temple at (615) 383-0729 or alan_mazer@yahoo.com.

The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, www.templenashville.org, is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish reform congregation with over 750 members. The Temple, located at 5015 Harding Road, serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson Counties.




The Temple Confirmation Class preserves Holocaust Torah (May, 27 2009)

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Nashville, Tenn. (May 27, 2009) – The 2009 Confirmation Class of The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Belle Meade presented its congregation with a special gift, the preservation of a gifted Torah that was rescued years ago in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.

The Loewenstein Family had donated the Torah in 1980 to The Temple. Its tattered state, displaying burns from a fire in the Nazi’s attempt to destroy the Torah, mars its beauty and functionality as a scared text of this Jewish congregation. In Jewish tradition, it is customary to bury old prayer books and Torahs in a Jewish cemetery. However, the clergy and religious staff felt that this particular Torah, although not necessarily usable, needed to remain in The Temple because of its historical significance.

“It is a piece of art and stands for something,” said Lynda Gutcheon, director of education. “We [as Jews] feel a connection to this Torah. Jews during the Holocaust used this Torah at a time when being Jewish could cost them their lives. The Torah provides us with faith and comfort.”

When the religious school director first showed this Torah to Molly Sir, one of the confirmation class students, she was shocked to see that it was resting on a shelf in a closet. “This piece of history needs to be seen,” said Molly. “It needs to be displayed to remind all of us of the hardships felt during the Holocaust, to remind us to be proud Jews.”

It was the impetus of this student and her confirmation class of 5769 (the Jewish calendar year equivalent to the American calendar year) who joined together to present this synagogue with a display case to protect and preserve this Torah.

“Now it will be on display and observed to remind us why we are here today, confirming our faith in Judaism,” said the16-year-old confirmand who made the May presentation to the congregation on behalf of the class of 28 students.
Confirmation is a Reform Judaism-originated ceremony for both boys and girls, tied to the holiday of Shavuot and constituting an affirmation of the commitment to the Jewish people.

“Confirmation is one of Reform Judaism’s youngest life cycle ceremonies,” said Mrs. Gutcheon.

Senior Rabbi Mark Schiftan describes confirmation by it beginning as a simple graduation ceremony, which gradually became a temple-based ritual.

“Although confirmation began in 1817, it was not until 1831 that Rabbi Samuel Egers of Brunswick, Germany presented the idea of holding confirmation during the season of Shavuot, the festival of the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai,” he said. “He saw powerful spiritual potential in associating the affirmation of faith by young Jews with the most significant moment of affirmation of the Jewish people.

“The ceremony of confirmation is an opportunity for our confirmands to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors,” said Rabbi Schiftan at The Temple’s confirmation ceremony, held after students complete 10 years of religious study. “Moses, Joshua, Josiah and others ‘rediscovered’ their Jewish roots at different times in their lives. Today, we, the Jewish future, stand before the congregation as the ancient Israelites stood at Mt. Sinai, recommitting ourselves to a people as old as the Torah, and as modern as today.”

Those 2009 confirmation graduates at The Temple are: Courtney L. Berck; Sarah T. Berkman; Nina R. Breyer; Alexander J. Bugalla; Max E. Fishel;; Mattie Goldberg; Eliot A. Goldfarb;; Zachary H. Gordon; Seth A. Jacobs; Gus D. R. Kuhn; Laura K. Kweller; Miriam Miller; Alexa K. Mossman; Neal S. K. Richardson; Bryce A. Rothenberg; Jacob A. Schiftan; Molly R. Sir; Natasha E. Spetalnick; Mara P. Steine; Joshua P. Strupp; Jaclyn Tempkins; and Benjamin S. Weinzimer, all of Nashville; Daniel M. Caplan; Nathan I. Caplan; and Miriam A. Goldstein, all of Brentwood; and, Matthew S. Friedman; Eryn T. Karmiller, and Natalie C. Loventhal, all of Franklin.

Rabbi Schiftan served as one of their religious schoolteachers, along with Rabbi Shana G. Mackler and Cantor Bernard Gutcheon, with Lynda Gutcheon as director of education.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, www.templenashville.org, is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson Counties, with Mark Schiftan serving as its senior rabbi and Patrice “Patty” Marks as president.



Students of the Confirmation Class of 2009 at The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom stand before the rescued Torah from Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, which they intend to protect by encasing it as a gift to the congregation in honor of confirming their faith in Judaism. The Torah was a gift from the Lowenstein Family in 1980 to The Temple. Even though unusable, the Torah and its historical significance will now be preserved and displayed for permanent viewing at The Temple.


The Temple Announces New Board of Trustees (May 25, 2009)

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Nashville, Tenn. (May 25, 2009) –The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Belle Meade has announced its newest members to its Board of Trustees.

They are: Roger Cone, Loren Elliot, Ann Gilbert, Nina Harris, Irwin Kuhn and Benjamin Russ, all of Nashville and serving a four-year term. Presidential appointees to the Board of Trustees are: James Fishel, Martin Sir, and Cindy Stone, all of Nashville.

Other Temple members who are currently serving remaining terms as members of its Board of Trustees are: Michael Dobrin; Joyce Friedman; Larrine Gerelick; Linda Gluck; Mark Goldfarb, M.D.; Cheryl Guyer, M.D.; Risa Herzog; Jeff Jacobs; Marshall Karr;Betty Lee Rosen; Ceci Sachs; Andrew Schwarcz; Karen Doochin Shaffer; Steven Shapiro; Lisa Shmerling; Anne Slosky; Stephen Small: Carol Smith; and, Jessica Gutow Viner.

Past presidents of The Temple who also serve on its board of trustees include: Marvin Bubis; Paul Cohn Jr.; Ernest Freudenthal; Harris N. Gilbert; Fred Goldner, Jr., M.D.; Gus Kuhn, III (Immediate Past President); Lewis Lavine; Leon May; Alan Mazer; Ted Pailet; Phil Russ; Douglas Small; Lisa Small; Irwin Venick; and Bernard Werthan.

Members of its board of directors include: President Patrice “Patty” Marks; Vice President Randall “Randy” Goldstein; Treasurer Rafael “Ray” Berk; and Secretary Ralph Levy, Jr.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson Counties. Mark Schiftan serves as its senior rabbi, Shana Goldstein Mackler as its associate rabbi, Bernie Gutcheon as cantor, and Patrice “Patty” Marks as president.



Collectible & Even Economical Artwork for Sale at Fifth Annual Temple Arts Festival (April 3, 2009)

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Nashville, Tenn. (April 3, 2009) - In these uncertain times, it’s exciting to see one of the South’s newest and most unique arts traditions return to Nashville with a full complement of outstanding master artists and craftsmen.

On Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26, 2009, in Nashville, the Temple Arts Festival will present its fifth annual juried exhibition and sale, featuring the works of nearly 50 acclaimed artists, craftsmen and jewelers from across the country.

They are expected to offer over 500 pieces of exceptional, original jewelry and art—glass, ceramics, sculpture, painting, tapestry, drawing, photography, ‘outsider art’ and more. Prizes will be awarded for Best of Show, 1st Place in 2-Dimensional Art, and 1st Place in 3-Dimensional Art.

With a reputation for eclectic collections of extraordinary works, the Temple Arts Festival (TAF) —now in its fifth year—enjoys national renown and an enthusiastic following. Loyal patrons and first-timers alike will find non-financial assets to invest in and delightful works of art or jewelry to brighten their lives without breaking their budgets.

The collectible works of this year's artists have been displayed in museums, galleries and juried exhibitions nationwide. Many are rarely available in the Nashville area, and over half of the artists are new to the event this year. Art and jewelry will be priced from $40 to thousands of dollars, with many pieces available for under $150.

Selected for their appeal to a wide range of arts enthusiasts and collectors, artists will include:

New Yorker turned Nashvillian, fine art photographer Nick Dantona emerged as a digital artist after decades in the commercial media world. His body of exquisite work is, in his words, “bound together by each scene's ability to relate its story to me for translation. These secrets are sometimes whispered to me in the lush monochrome tones of the Pictorialists, sometimes in the deep dramatic hues of the Baroque and other times in brash Modernist colors.

Because creating glass is physically demanding—and dangerous—Marlene Rose of Clearwater, Fla., is one of few women who choose this medium. Adding to the difficulty, she searches junkyards for objects that can be transformed by intense heat and uses them as integral parts of her creations. This innovation is truly unique to her work and makes each piece both ancient and modern, not blown but hand cast from molten glass in a spectacular process of heat and light.

Herb Williams of Nashville is the only individual in the world with an account with Crayola. His sculptures are made with crayons—roughly 150,000 in each piece, cut to size one-by-one with dog nail clippers or cigar cutters. Having previously worked with stone, steel and bronze, the idea of working with crayons came to Williams in a dream, and he’s been having fun with them ever since. Says Williams, “My intent is to continue to seriously create art that looks at itself unseriously.”

Now 90 years old, Sylvia Hyman has been sculpting in clay for the past 45 years. For 10 years, she has worked with a form of sculpture in the genre known as super-realism or “trompe l’oeil” (fool the eye). She chooses as subject matter such familiar objects as old boxes and baskets and fills them with contents that “stir the mind,” all made of clay and capturing not only the appearance of things, but their essential nature as well.

Born in Vietnam, Binh Pho endured Communism for four years after the war ended, before escaping to the U.S. in 1979. Since discovering woodturning in 1992, he has been creating intricately carved, beautifully painted wooden urns, bowls and more, their almost porcelain-thin walls making them all the more magical. Pho’s work reflects the Far East culture and his journey to the West, creating “a character and soul” in each distinctive piece.

In designing his striking metal sculptures, Henry Royer ascribes no “meaning” to his work. Rather, he describes his work as visual experimentation devoid of intellectual content. “I play with forms,” he says, “and when something clicks then that's it.” Following this internal inspiration, Royer has created a large collection of stunning and unique metal sculptures.

Thomas Hoadley’s breathtaking porcelain vessels are designed using the ancient technique of nerikomi, creating patterns with colored clay. Through a masterful manipulation of the clays, delicate, organic, and often complex patterns are created, with certain color/pattern combinations bringing an illusion of depth and mystery to Hoadley’s award winning vessels.

A donation from the net proceeds of the Arts Festival will be made to Congregation Ohabai Sholom, Nashville, Tennessee's oldest and largest Jewish congregation.

Advance Purchase Certificates are recommended for those willing to commit to a purchase in advance, in exchange for the opportunity to browse the exhibition and make their selections before the general public is admitted. Certificates can be purchased, starting at $250, all of which will be applied toward the purchase of art and/or jewelry at the 2009 Temple Arts Festival.

For vivid details of the artists’ works, visit the Temple Arts Festival’s web site at www.templeartsfestival.com. For information, call The Temple at 615-352-7620. Gift Certificates are also available.

Because The Temple is a 501(c)(3) organization, sales tax will not be charged. Event co-chair Lisa Small adds, "Up to 40 percent of artwork purchased may qualify as a charitable donation, but everyone is advised to consult with a certified public accountant or tax advisor."

Schedule of Events for Temple Arts Festival – April 25 & 26, 2009 – www.templeartsfestival.com

Saturday, April 25, 2009, 4 pm to 5 pm: Connoisseurs' Champagne Preview, for holders of Advance Purchase Certificates of $2,000 toward the purchase of art and/or jewelry during the show

Saturday, April 25, 2009, 5 pm to 6:30 pm: Collectors’ Preview & Cocktail Supper, for holders of Advance Purchase Certificates of $500-$1,999 toward the purchase of art and/or jewelry during the show.

Saturday, April 25, 2009, 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm: Critics’ Wine & Dessert Reception, for holders of Advance Purchase Certificates of $250-$499 toward the purchase of art and/or jewelry during the show.

Saturday, April 25, 2009, 7:30 pm to 10 pm, Grand Opening: Cocktails and desserts. Proceeds will benefit the Temple's "Room at the Inn" program, for people in need. General Admission, $20 per person.

Sunday, April 26, 2009, 10 a.m. to 5:30 pm, Open to the Public, Free General Admission.





Reform Jewish Prayer is Re-Formed: First Jewish Prayer Book Released in 30 Years - (April 2, 2009)

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Nashville, Tenn. (April 2, 2009) - The community is invited to attend a historic moment for the nation’s largest Jewish movement, Reform Judaism. The first new Reform Jewish prayer book in more than 30 years, Mishkan T’filah – A Reform Siddur, will be introduced and dedicated at The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom’s Shabbat service on Friday evening, April 10, 2009, 7:30 p.m.

Mishkan T’filah – A Reform Siddur is an innovative new prayer book for the Jewish Reform Movement that took more than 20 years to develop. Since 1985, committees of rabbis, cantors, lay leaders, and liturgists, consisting of 50 people, were involved in developing the new prayer book, or siddur. Early versions were field- tested in 300 congregations that provided feedback. Additionally, thousands of comments and suggestions came from individuals.

A collection of Jewish prayer books will be exhibited at the reception following the service, showcasing the search from the appropriate liturgy by Reform Jews from the 1800s until today. Some of the prayer books displayed are from the library of Rabbi Isidore Lewinthal, rabbi of the Vine Street Temple from 1888 to 1922, as well as other congregants.

Each stage of Mishkan T’filah’s development factored in issues of gender, age, theology, generation, academic expertise, and style – the intangible issue of “how” people pray, says Williamson County resident Rabbi Mark L. Schiftan, senior rabbi of The Temple, Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish Reform congregation. “Our members will have to view the prayer book as if they’re going on the Internet looking at a Web page; there are many different items they can click on.”

Unlike the Reform Movement’s last prayer book, Gates of Prayer, the new prayer book has a Hebrew title, Mishkan T’filah, which means a sanctuary or dwelling place for prayer. And it reads from back to front, like a traditional Hebrew text, only an optional format when the Gates of Prayer was published in 1975.

“Mishkan T’filah is intended to offer something for everyone – traditionalists, progressives and others – even those who do not believe in God,” says Rabbi Schiftan. “It reflects a recognition of diversity within our community, being sensitive to the fact that a large percentage of the Reform Movement represents intermarriage households or Jews by Choice who can’t read Hebrew, along with the many non-Jewish visitors at bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies on Saturday mornings.”

“And yes, there are even those who come to worship who don’t believe in God,” says Rabbi Schiftan. “There are many Jews who cannot resonate with the language of prayer that evokes a personal God, a God that talks to you in a sense. They just don’t believe in God that way. So, knowing some people have doubts about God brought the Reform Movement to incorporate contemporary prayers and poetry into our new prayer book, making the idea of religious belief more inclusive to speak to the human condition without referencing God.”

Mishkan T’filah also tries to appeal to Jews seeking a return to tradition, he adds. Gender-neutral language is used when referencing God. References to God as “He” have been removed, and whenever Jewish patriarchs are named – like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so are the matriarchs – like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.

The Temple is one of many Reform congregations throughout North America that have begun to adopt this new prayer book because the Reform Movement has been preparing to receive them for years. However, there is no requirement that all synagogues adopt them.

Over a two-year period, the Temple’s Prayer Book Selection Committee explored the various prayer books available that had been commissioned by other Jewish congregations and compared them to the Reform Movement’s newly-revised version.

"The Prayer Book Committee spent several months studying prayer itself as well as the history and evolution of prayer in the Reform movement,” says Grif Haber, chairman of The Temple’s Prayer Book Selection Committee. “We considered 17 different criteria that we felt were essential or desirable in our congregation's new prayer book. The result of our two year study was that Miskan T'filah met or exceeded our expectations in almost every category."

“Our committee also felt it important that a single prayer book become widely adopted by Reform congregations nationwide,” continues Haber. “It is very comforting to be able to enter a synagogue, not your own, perhaps in another city or even another country, and be familiar with the prayer book and worship service. By adopting the Reform Movement’s new prayer book, our temple joins with our sister congregations, and in some way defines what Reform Judaism looks like in today's world. "

The Reform Movement, which originated in Germany in the 19th century, claims 1.5 million members in 900 congregations in North America. There are about 5.2 million Jews in the United States, according to the National Jewish Population Survey, conducted from 2000 to 2001.

Of Judaism’s three main branches, including Conservative and Orthodox, the Reform Movement is more liberal. Reform Jews ordain women, welcome interfaith couples and embrace gays.

Synagogues must buy their own prayer books, often achieved through donations. The Temple’s new prayer books were donated by the Gilbert, Tannenbaum and Dreifus families. They will be formally recognized at The Temple’s prayer book dedication ceremony.

The design and layout of Mishkan T’filah significantly differs from previous Reform prayer books. There are four versions of each prayer on every facing two-page spread. (Since the book is read back to front, the right page is read
before the left one.) On the right page is a traditional Hebrew prayer with the transliteration of the Hebrew prayer into phonetical English, and a more literal translation.

On the left-hand page is a more poetic English translation of the prayer, followed by a metaphorical or meditative passage reflecting on the prayer’s theme, sometimes by well-known writers like Langston Hughes and Yehuda Amichai.

Rabbis who prefer to lead a more alternative service can select a prayer from the left-hand side of the page, while those who prefer a more traditional approach can choose from the right side.

In 150 years, the Reform Movement has periodically revised a number of prayer books, each reflecting the changing times. Throughout the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, our economy was primarily industrial, with standardized goods made in factories, like the Model T Ford. The mirror liturgical image was the 1895 Union Prayer Book, which standardized prayer with little regard for the individual worshiper. Reform rabbis stood at the pulpit and read long paragraphs while the congregation had only one-line responsive readings.

After World War II, we entered a service economy, where people expected to be served in a customized manner. The 1975 Gates of Prayer offered 10 different service selections to satisfy individualized theological tastes, but only one could be used at any given Shabbat prayer experience.

Today, we inhabit what’s called an experience economy. Consumers shop at malls not just to buy what they want, but to have a buying “experience”. As part of the experience economy, Mishkan T’filah offers options, but it does so on each page, not in separate services. On any double page spread, individual voices on the left-hand page personalize the experience, while the traditional text on the right-hand page creates a community of worshipers.

“So, Mishkan T’filah provides for a communal experience while allowing for individuality in prayer,” says Rabbi Schiftan.

And what will happen to The Temple’s old prayer books? Jewish law requires objects or texts containing the Hebrew name of God that are no longer being used, to be honored and buried in a place where they will not be destroyed. So, The Temple will follow Jewish custom by holding a special service called Kavod Ha Shemot, (honoring the names), placing the retired prayer books in an official burial plot at its Jewish cemetery, located in East Nashville. The service is planned for late spring.

The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, www.templenashville.org, is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish Reform congregation of over 750 members. The Temple, located at 5015 Harding Road, serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson Counties.

For additional information or for non-members to make reservations to attend The Temple’s Shabbat service and the dedication of its new prayer books, please call 615/352-7620.



The Temple to Host 64th Annual Interfaith Dinner with Five Other Faith-Based Area Churches (February 17, 2009)

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Nashville, Tenn. (February 17, 2009) – The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom, in Belle Meade, is serving as host for the city’s 64th Annual Interfaith Dinner, on Thursday, February 19, 2009, where Mayor Karl Dean of Nashville will serve as its keynote speaker.

This is the first time in the event’s history that a city mayor has been invited to speak, noted Rabbi Mark L. Schiftan, The Temple’s senior rabbi of Nashville’s oldest and largest reform Jewish congregation.

“We have asked Mayor Dean to address the topic of social justice, particularly the problems of education, housing and health care,” he said. “Also, in light of the economic situation, we have also asked him to identify and discuss the more immediate needs emerging in our city given the dire state of our economy and what roles he sees the religious community playing in order to address these social needs.”

The auditorium will be filled to capacity with over 200 members of six congregations who have committed to attending the Inter-Faith Dinner at The Temple. Those congregations represented will be from The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom, St. George’s Episcopal Church, St. Henry Catholic Church, Belmont United Methodist Church, Vine Street Christian Church, and First Baptist Capital Hill Church. Each clergy representative will be participating in the evening’s program as well as have an opportunity to ask a question of Mayor Dean.

The host for the Interfaith Dinner is rotated each year among these six faith-based congregations. As this year’s host, The Temple’s Board of Directors and members of its congregation will be dressed as waiters, serving guests plated dinners.

The 6 p.m. dinner will be held in the auditorium of The Temple – Ohabai Sholom, 5015 Harding Road. For information, call 615/352-7620.

The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, www.templenashville.org, is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish reform congregation with over 750 members. The Temple serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson Counties.


Boulevard Bolt Thanksgiving 5K Run Marks 15 Years & Over $1 Million to Serve Homeless (November 10, 2008)

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2008 Boulevard Bolt to Provide Grants Supporting 24 Local Organizations

Nashville, Tenn. (November 10, 2008) - On Thanksgiving morning at 8 a.m., close to 8,000 runners are expected to participate in the 15th annual Boulevard Bolt, a five-mile run/walk down Belle Meade Boulevard. A Nashville tradition, this 2008 annual Thanksgiving Day fundraiser will celebrate raising over $1 million in donations for non-profit agencies serving homeless individuals and families in Middle Tennessee.

The Boulevard Bolt is organized by a diverse group of congregations, whose houses of worship line Belle Meade Boulevard: Immanuel Baptist Church, St. George’s Episcopal Church, and The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom. Open to people of all ages and abilities, the Boulevard Bolt run/walk has become a family tradition for thousands who want to give to others on Thanksgiving Day. Twenty-four local, non-profit organizations who serve Nashville’s homeless will benefit from the proceeds of this year’s event.

Since its inception in 1994, the Boulevard Bolt has grown in numbers of participants and funds raised every year, initially starting with 2,500 participants and raising $25,000 in donations to 7,850 participants and $160,000 raised in 2007.

“Even though the runner who passes the finish line first wins the race, it is the city of Nashville who is the real winner, “ says Diane Kuhn, chairman of the Boulevard Bolt. “Most of the agencies we support are small and severely under-funded. In the spirit of this Thanksgiving holiday, we are thrilled that the Boulevard Bolt continues to grow and serve Nashville’s homeless. Not only does the event represent the coming together of diverse faiths to make a difference in serving the homeless, it also represents the commitment and generosity of the entire Nashville community in addressing a vital need in our city.”

Those Nashville agencies to receive proceeds from the run include: Campus for Human Development, Davidson Country Mental Health Courts, Dismas House of Nashville, Galaxy Star Drug Awareness/Peacemakers Project, Loaves & Fishes, Luke 14:12, Magdalene, Matthew 25, Inc., Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Nashville Homeless Power Project, Nashville’s Table, Oasis Center, Operation Stand Down Nashville, Park Center, Penuel Ridge Retreat Center, Renewal House, Rooftop, Safe Haven Family Shelter, The Shade Tree Family Clinic, Siloam Family Health Center, St. Luke’s Community House, United Neighborhood Health Services, Urban Housing Solutions and YWCA.

Major Sponsors for the 2008 Boulevard Bolt include: Pilkinton Eye Center, HCA Tri-Star Health Systems, Morgan Keegan, Elam Vaughn & Fleming Dentistry, and The Stanford Group.

Supporting Sponsors include: Suntrust, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, Petra Capital Partners, Tennessee Oncology, Fifth Third Center, Tenant Building Group, Pinnacle Financial Partners, First Horizon Insurance Group, and A. Joel Gluck Orthodontics.
Other participating sponsors include: Asics/Sport Seasons, BMW of Nashville, Lightning 100/Team Green, Southeast Venture, Publix Super Market Charities, Robert W. Baird & Company, Vanderbilt Stroke Center, Solomon Builders and Tetra Design.

For race day details and registration information, please visit the Boulevard Bolt’s web site at www.thebolt.org, or call 615.525.1815.







Cantor Benard Gutcheon Honored for 25 Years of Service to the Temple (September 27, 2008)

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Nashville, Tenn. (Sept. 27, 2008) - The recent Rosh Hashanah services at The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, held a special meaning for its cantor, Bernard Gutcheon. It was 25 years ago, on Rosh Hashanah eve in 1983, when Cantor Gutcheon first led this Belle Meade congregation in song.

Senior Rabbi Mark Schiftan recognized Cantor Gutcheon for his distinguished service and steadfast devotion as The Temple’s cantor before 1,000-plus congregants attending Rosh Hashanah services on September 30, 2008.

“On this, the silver anniversary of his distinguished service and steadfast devotion to this sacred congregation, Bernard Gutcheon has served our congregation with warmth, compassion and steadfast love over the past 25 years,” said Rabbi Schiftan. “I would like everyone to stand who has been touched by a life cycle event involving Cantor Gutcheon over the past 25 years he has been with us, whether a marriage, funeral, baby naming, bar or bat mitzvah, confirmation, or a visit to a hospice or hospital.” The entire congregation stood.

Gutcheon’s childhood soprano voice was discovered when he was six years old, and perfected by his mother, a classically trained singer. Gutcheon realized his talent when he sang a solo of “Silent Night” at school and experienced the positive reaction of the audience from his first public performance.

Encouraged by his parents and his Jewish upbringing, Gutcheon received voice training from such greats as Mordechai Ben Shachar of the Israeli National Opera and William Metcalf of the New York City Opera. His desire was to one day serve as the cantor of a Jewish synagogue. At Hebrew Union College, he studied liturgical music, learned to read the Torah and interpret the text of the Talmud and Bible to accentuate the holiness of the texts through musical interpretations. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sacred music, specializing in cantorial investiture, and music and religious school education.

During his 25-year tenure at The Temple, Cantor Gutcheon, 54, has individually taught Hebrew and their Torah portions to over 1,000 students, ages 10 through 13, in preparation for them becoming bar or bat mitzvah which entails three years of study.

With each student he works with, he is reminded of how difficult his studies were as a child because he was educationally challenged in his childhood years as a special education student. “But those challenges taught me to follow my passion for music, to never give up, and to always try my best,” he said. He tries to instill those values in his own students now.

“In my working with students, I take the stance that ‘no child is left behind’,” says Gutcheon. “It is important to me to make sure that every Jewish child is given an opportunity to become a bar or bat mitzvah, no matter his or her skill level. My proudest moments are when a child reads from the Torah at his or her bar/bat mitzvah, especially when the child has learning issues, or special needs, or when an adult chooses to become a bar mitzvah late in life.”

Also during his 25 years at The Temple, Cantor Gutcheon was instrumental in changing the congregation’s style of prayer from that of a classical Reform congregation into the mainstream of the Reform Jewish movement. “When I arrived, the congregation did not chant when reading portions from the Torah,” he said. “Our congregation has been receptive to my slowly introducing more of this German vernacular that is reflective of our religion.”

“No matter what status or level someone is at in their life, every member of our congregation has a place they can come to for peace or to address their troubles,” says Gutcheon. “Over the last 25 years, I have been involved in the lives of so many from birth to death. They have invited me into their lives; I am truly honored.”

He recalls how he is now officiating or co-officiating at weddings for his former bar/bat mitzvah students. “It’s nice to know that I have left a mark on these people’s lives when they call many years later to be a part of their special life cycle event,” he says. “I suppose that is the reward one gets as a cantor when working at a temple for a long time.”

Bernard Gutcheon, a resident of Nashville, Tenn., holds the reform Jewish educator (RJE) certification from the National Association of Temple Educators. In 2004, he received an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion of New York, NY.

He is married to Linda Gutcheon, director of The Temple’s Religious School, who also was educationally challenged as a child and equally shares in his husband’s values of working to help those children with learning issues, or special needs to be able to learn and experience their Jewish heritage. Their daughters are Shira Gutcheon, and Alana Gutcheon Bowden who inherited her father’s musical talent and plays the bass. Alana is seen regularly performing at The Temple’s services.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom (www.templenashville.org) is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a Reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 members and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson Counties.



The Temple Announces New Board of Trustees - (August 7, 2008)

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Nashville, Tenn. (August 7, 2008) –The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Belle Meade has announced its newest members to its board of trustees.

Serving a four-year term, they are: Linda Gluck of Nashville; Lisa Robbins of Nashville; Betty Lee Rosen of Nashville; Steven Shapiro of Nashville; Anne Slosky of Franklin; and, Mark Goldfarb, M.D. of Nashville, with Ann Gilbert of Nashville serving a one-year term.

Other Temple members who are currently serving remaining terms as members of its board of trustees are: Michael Bressman; Joyce Friedman; Larrine Gerelick; Ann Gilbert; Cheryl Guyer; Grif Haber; Risa Herzog; Jeff Jacobs; Cathy Karmiller; Marshall Karr; Nancy Richardson; Ceci Sachs; Andrew Schwarcz; Karen Shaffer; Lisa Shmerling; Carol Smith; Sy Trachtman; and, Jessica Viner.

Past presidents of The Temple who also serve on its board of trustees include: Marvin Bubis; Paul Cohn Jr.; Ernest Freudenthal; Harris N. Gilbert; Fred Goldner, M.D.; Gus Kuhn, III (Immediate Past President); Lewis Lavine; Leon May; Alan Mazer; Ted Pailet; Phil Russ; Douglas Small; Lisa Small; Irwin Venick; and Bernard Werthan.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, www.templenashville.org, is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 members and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson Counties with Mark Schiftan serving as its senior rabbi.





The Temple Announces New Board Officers: Patty Marks to Lead 750-Member Congregation - (June 19, 2008)

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Nashville, Tenn. (June 19, 2008) – The Board of Trustees of The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Belle Meade has named its officers for 2008-09.
They are: President Patrice “Patty” Marks; Vice President Randall “Randy” Goldstein; Treasurer Rafael “Ray” Berk; and Secretary Ralph Levy, Jr., all of Nashville.

Patty Marks is the 55th president of The Temple, which has historical beginnings dating back to 1851 in Nashville when The Temple purchased cemetery property. Marks also will be the fourth woman president to serve, joining the ranks of Elise “Lisa” Small, serving as president from 1993 to 1996; the late Suzanne Morris as president, 1992 – 1993; and the late Peggy Steine as president, 1976 to 1978. She is a para-rabbinic fellow, having received training at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, and leads a weekly women’s Torah study group at The Temple.

Marks has served as a full-time community volunteer over the last 20 years. She has shared her talents and leadership abilities in fundraising, financial administration and special events planning with numerous nonprofit organizations, including those specializing in education, social services, and literacy.

She currently serves as a board member of the Tennessee Commission on Holocaust Education and Abe’s Garden at Park Manor, an independent living community for seniors in Belle Meade whose mission is to ultimately build an “aging in place” campus for Alzheimer’s & dementia patients. She also is involved with the Nashville Adult Literacy Council.

Vice President Randall Goldstein is senior vice president, financial advisor of Morgan Keegan & Company. Treasurer Ray Berk is a lawyer of the firm, Ray H. Berk, Attorney at Law. Secretary Ralph Levy is counsel of the regional law firm of Frost Brown Todd, LLC in Nashville.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, www.templenashville.org, is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple has over 750 members and serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson Counties with Mark Schiftan serving as its senior rabbi.


The Temple's Rabbi Ranked No. 14 among Top Pulpit Rabbis in the U.S. - (May 16, 2008)

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Nashville, Tenn. (May 16, 2008) –Rabbi Mark L. Schiftan, the senior rabbi of Nashville’s oldest and largest reform Jewish congregation, was named one of the Top 25 Pulpit Rabbis in America as disclosed in Newsweek, ranking No. 14.

Rabbi Schiftan leads The Temple- Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Nashville, Tenn. (Belle Meade) where he has served as its spiritual leader since July 1999. A resident of Williamson County, he previously served as senior rabbi for a historic urban congregation in San Jose, California known as Temple Emanu-El.

The list was published in the April 2008 edition of Newsweek. It was created by Michael Lynton (chairman & CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment), Gary Ginsberg (executive vice president of global marketing & corporate affairs, News Corp.) and Jay Sanderson (CEO and executive producer, JTN/JTN Productions).

Dubbing themselves as the “machers” (pronounced ‘makher’ and Yiddish for important person, big shot, or, “mover”), the long time friends built on their mutual interest in the future of American Judaism to put together the list. The ranking is the follow up to their overwhelmingly popular first edition of the Top 50 Influential Rabbis in America, released and published in Newsweek in 2007.

The machers’ selection of the Top 25 Pulpit Rabbis for 2008 was based on those rabbis they believe have what it takes to lead American Jews into the 21st century. Their criteria included:
· Ability to inspire congregational through scholarship and oratory;
· Success in growing and expanding congregation;
· Community leadership and innovation;
· Ability to meet spiritual and personal needs and goals of his/her congregation; and,
· Leadership within denominational movement.

In an editorial by Newsweek’s Society Editor Lisa Miller, she notes that these are trying times for American Jews. “The number of people who call themselves Jewish has dropped by nearly half since 1972, according to the Association of Religion Data Archives, and nearly 60 percent of American Jews go to synagogue just once a year or never.

“The pulpit list is an effort to recognize people who are looking at the question of what it means to be Jewish in new and interesting ways, says Sanderson.’ ”

Rabbi Schiftan has developed community service and community relation’s projects in the congregations he has served, while guiding them from classical to mainstream and contemporary reform modes of Jewish worship. Here in Nashville, Rabbi Schiftan has led a major expansion of its adult and family education and lifelong learning programs; developed a diversification of congregational modes of worship; developed community and ecumenical relationships with The Temple, including Black-Jewish discussions, Muslim-Jewish dialogues, and an interfaith clergy trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.; and, forged the construction of a Habitat for Humanity House together with neighborhood churches, to name a few of his innovative initiatives.

“Rabbi Schiftan has the wonderful gift of empowering his congregants,” says Patty Marks, Temple president. “He encourages and engages us to get out there and learn to broaden our perspectives on Jewish theology and ethics, and to take that knowledge and share it with others through such outlets as teaching classes. For example, his influence led me to become a para - rabbinic fellow.”

His is responsible for staff supervision and management of The Temple while fulfilling the full range of pulpit, pastor, educational and communal duties. Rabbi Schiftan also manages to be a loving husband to Harriet, his wife of 21 years, and a father to his three children, Ari, Sarah and Jacob.

Rabbi Schiftan received his bachelor’s of arts degree, magna cum laude, from San Francisco State University. Hebrew Union College of Los Angeles awarded Rabbi Schiftan a master of arts’ degree in Hebrew Letters; he was ordained at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, www.templenashville.org, is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish reform congregation of over 750 members. The Temple serves the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson Counties.



The Jewish Temple Buried Its Holy Books (April 14, 2008)

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Nashville, Tenn. (April 14, 2008) –The worn-out Bibles and prayer books (siddurim in Hebrew) and other unusable holy and sacred objects that had collected in the local Jewish reform temple’s genizah (a sacred resting place) for years and years were finally put to rest.

The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Belle Meade held a special burial ceremony to honor these sacred books containing God’s name on Sunday, April 13, 2008 at their congregation’s cemetery. The sixth grade class of The Temple led the service where other members of the congregation participated by lowering the items shroud in sheets into the grave. Everyone helped to shovel the dirt back into the holy grave, a Jewish ritual and custom also done when burying the dead that is considered a mitzvah or blessing to be able to perform.

The Temple’s genizah, a dedicated closet, was overflowing and it was The Temple’s Jewish educator who saw an opportunity to educate its sixth graders about this Jewish custom that deals with showing respect and honor to G-d’s name, (kavod in Hebrew) as well as how to deal with this problem of religious clutter.

Jewish law requires that objects or texts containing the Hebrew name of G-d, that are no longer usable, be buried in a place where they will not be destroyed. So Lynda Gutcheon, director of religious education at The Temple, decided it was time to follow Jewish custom and move these items to their final resting place, an official burial plot at its Jewish cemetery, located in East Nashville.

“We have kept these shemot (a Jewish word meaning names) in a special place in the temple because they contain the name of G-d, Mrs. Gutcheon explained. “And now, because we have accumulated so much, we held this service to bury them and honor them,” she added. The service is called Kavod Ha Shemot, honoring the names.

The Temple’s 6th graders were chosen by Mrs. Gutcheon to conduct the service “because they are preparing to take their places as adults in the Jewish Community as a bar or bat mitzvah,” she said.

“In our religious school, we try to develop programs that can bring meaning and learning to our students,” said Mrs. Gutcheon, who was recently honored by The Temple for her 30 years of service to Jewish education.

“This year’s focus has been on the theme of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. As part of repairing our world, we have an obligation to not only ‘do’ for others, but also to consider showing respect and honor to others and to those things that help us learn about these obligations. Sacred books, with G-d’s name in them, have done just that for us.” This ceremony was a way for our 6th graders to show respect and honor to G-d’s name and the rest of the words found in these sacred books.”

The practice of burying sacred books and objects that can no longer be used goes back as far as the Talmud and is performed by Jews as a ritual ceremony throughout history, noted Rabbi Schiftan.

“We don’t shred our sacred books. We don’t destroy them. We don’t throw them in the garbage,” he said. “ As a Jewish people, we have reverence for these objects because they have played a role in our lives beyond the objects themselves.”

“The name of G-d in a book not only makes it sacred, it makes it an etz chaim, a tree of life,” continued Rabbi Schiftan. “These sacred books are living things, and as living things, we must treat them with respect as we do for our dead by returning them to the Earth. The books will dissolve, all going back to nature, as they should.”






The Temple Completes Beautification of Its Sanctuary: Seven Days of Creation Tapestry Donated by Zeitlin-Averbuch Families (March 17, 2008)

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Nashville, Tenn. (March 17, 2008) - The biblical “Seven Days of Creation” are being glorified in a Jacquard loomed tapestry to be permanently displayed in The Temple - Congregation Ohabai Sholom, Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish reform congregation.

The Temple commissioned Laurie Gross Studios of Santa Barbara, Ca., an award winning, internationally recognized leader in the production of spiritually based artwork, to create seven paneled Judaic tapestries for its sanctuary choir wall.

A dedication ceremony of the tapestries will be held on Friday, April 11, 2008 at 8 p.m. during The Temple’s Shabbat services where co-designers Laurie Gross and Susan Jordan will discuss the artistic processes and religious symbolisms used in the tapestries, entitled “Seven Days of Creation.”

The ceremony will also recognize the Zeitlin - Averbuch Families for donating the needed funds for the tapestry project, a gift made in memory of their beloved Martin Zeitlin, a noted Middle Tennessee real estate developer and home builder, who passed away in September 2005.

“Our family wanted to create a special and different tribute in memory of Martin,” says his wife, Shirley Zeitlin. “Our family was taken back when we saw how beautiful the tapestries would be from viewing the initial drawings. It was at that point that we all realized and agreed that we would support this tapestry project to honor Martin’s life. Now, our grandchildren, future generations and the entire congregation will enjoy this beautiful art for years to come.”

Measuring a total of 30 feet in width and 10 feet in height, the textile panels are hung side-by-side to collectively tell a story of the seven days of creation, notes Betty Lee Rosen, chair of The Temple’s Beautification Committee which was responsible for its production and completion, along with rabbinical guidance from The Temple’s Rabbi Mark Schiftan. The tapestries are hung reading from right to left as Hebrew is traditionally read with day one of creation on the far right and the seventh day of creation on the far left.

“A giant Torah scroll was used to connect the whole imagery and to highlight the Hebrew scripture, ‘The name of G-d, and it was good,’” says Mrs. Rosen. “The artwork is vibrant, spiritually moving and comforting; it has a sense of flow, making you think of music when you look at it.”

The production process for the tapestries took one year to complete. First, the artists did extensive Judaic research and obtained feedback and guidance from Rabbi Schiftan and the seven-member Beautification Committee and the Zeitlin family.

“As artists, we are further inspired by biblical text, Midrashic material and Jewish tradition, creating work that embodies universal themes, rich in metaphors,” says Gross. The artists further depicted conceptual drawings and actual weaved samples to pinpoint color and weave effects for the committee’s review.

The artists used electronically controlled Jacquard weaving, a fairly new process of movement established by The Jacquard Center of Hendersonville, North Carolina in 2000, an art center that collaborates with skilled artists and designers in the product development and production of weaved fabrics. The tapestries were woven on a commercial Jacquard loom at The Oriole Mill in Hendersonville, North Carolina using high-end threads of 100 percent cotton with 85 colors in all. The mill spent over 300 hours in the tapestries’ production. Both artists spent months hand embroidering to embellish the tapestries and its colors.

Mrs. Rosen notes that the congregants of The Temple have a deep appreciation for art and are dedicated to the beautification of its building. “You will find several fine works of art throughout our temple and inside its sanctuaries,” says Mrs. Rosen. “With each commissioned work of art we embark upon, we strive for it to be very purposeful and full of content. This particular piece had a challenge because it had to be compatible and not compete with the other works of art in the sanctuary and had to make a statement of its own.”

The Temple’s full appreciation of art is further exemplified in organizing its annual juried Temple Arts Festival which is open to the community. For the past three years, the Temple Arts Festival has delighted the Nashville arts community with extraordinary exhibitors of distinctive collectible art for sale by a host of master artists and craftsmen from around the United States and abroad, with its efforts earning The Temple national acclaim. This year’s Fourth Annual Temple Arts Festival is scheduled for April 5-6, 2008, just five days before the tapestries’ dedication.

The Temple did a major renovation of its facilities in 2000 using funds raised from its capital campaign. “The choir area was always slotted for artwork, but there were not enough funds at that time to complete the artwork we envisioned for the main sanctuary,” says Mrs. Rosen. “Time has passed since then and it took the generosity of the Shirley Zeitlin Family to make the funding of this project possible.” The artwork behind the choir area now completes the beautification of The Temple’s sanctuary.

The tapestry artists Laurie Gross and Susan Jordan also designed the chapel’s arc doors and Torah covers. “They were familiar with our project,” says Mrs. Rosen, “and have a gift for making art that our congregation admires, so it was natural for us to commission them once again.”

“The joy of making art for both spiritual and public environments is getting to know each community and together problem solving the needs for their specific project,’ says Ms. Jordan. “With The Temple, their issue was the need for acoustical artwork within their choir area that, at the same time, would complement the sacred space and add a religious theme of importance to the congregation.”

“The result is a unique piece of Judaic artwork that looks both like a 3,000-year-old tapestry passed down from synagogue to synagogue as well as a modern work of art,” says Rabbi Schiftan. “It is one of a kind and reflects our congregation and its Judaic beginnings.”

Contributing members of the Zeitlin – Averbuch Families who donated funds to support the “Seven Days of Creation” tapestries in memory of Martin Zeitlin included: his wife, Shirley; his sons, Manuel and Janice Zeitlin, Bruce and Beth Zeitlin, and Jeff Zeitlin; his brother, Barry and Linda Zeitlin; Shirley’s brothers, Jerry and Arlene Averbuch, and Larry and Sandy Averbuch; and Shirley’s mother, Juliet Averbuch.

Members of The Temple’s Beautification Committee are: Betty Lee Rosen, chair; Royce Fishel; Jenny Lewis; Harriet Schiftan; Sy Trachtman and Lisa Shmerling.

The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, www.templenashville.org, is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish reform congregation. Its congregation services the Middle Tennessee region, including Davidson and Williamson Counties.

To arrange for a specially guided group tour of The Temple’s artwork, contact Administrator Mitzie Reynolds at info@templenashville.org.

About the Artists of “Seven Days of Creation”
Laurie Gross is nationally recognized for her extraordinarily inspiring and spiritually based artwork. Inspired by biblical text, midrashic material and Jewish tradition, she creates work that embodies universal themes, rich in metaphors. Her studio has expanded over the past decade to include a staff of accomplished artists who, together as a team, are involved in creating some of the finest work that is currently being designed for synagogue worship environments. Seven of the studio's synagogue projects have received national awards in the area of religious art from the American Institute of Architects and The Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture. She is a member of Congregation B’nai B’rith in Santa Barbara, California.

Susan M. Jordan joined Laurie Gross as her design partner in 2003. Ms. Jordan brings a new level of experience to the studio that has expanded the services the studio offers to its clients. With a background in sculpture and three-dimensional design and a knowledge of building practices, metal casting and fabrication, Ms. Jordan provides a practical hands-on approach to designing for Laurie Gross Studios. Ms. Jordan has sculpture in a number of private collections as well as projects displayed in the public environment. She has taught sculpture and design at Otis College of Art in Los Angeles, University of California at Irvine and Santa Barbara, and Santa Barbara City College.

About the Late Martin Zeitlin

Mr. Martin Zeitlin was a noted Middle Tennessee real estate developer and home builder who started his homebuilding career at the early age of 17 and matured into real estate development. Ahead of his time, Mr. Zeitlin had an admiration and respect for the land he developed. His business philosophy centered around how to make the land a better community which led him throughout his career and served as an influence for his children. As he developed new residential communities, he would take into account being environmentally conscious as well as the aesthetics of the land for future homeowners.

Mr. Zeitlin developed many residential communities during his lifetime, with his most noted being Cottonwood Estates in Franklin; Town Park on Murfreesboro Road; Kennelworth Estates; Tree Tops of Harpeth Trace; Sunset View in Hendersonville, and Valley West in Bellevue, the first residential community in the area that sparked future development. Mr. Zeitlin also built a low-cost housing development in Springfield, Tenn. where he developed a first homebuyers program focusing on how to take care of the house.

Even though his work appeared to be his life, his family was his first love. He married his high school sweetheart, Shirley (Averbuch), and they had three sons, Manuel, Bruce and Jeff and five grandchildren. Mr. Zeitlin passed away in September 2005.

About the “Seven Days of Creation” and the Artists’ Textual Basis for Design:

Day 1 “In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the Earth…And G-d said: Let there be light. And there was light. And G-d saw the light, that it was good;”

Day 2 “And G-d made the firmament and divided between the waters which were under the firmament and between the waters which were above the firmament and it was so.”

Day 3 “Let the waters be gathered together under the heaven, unto one place, and let the dry land appear and it was so. And G-d called the dry land Earth, and the gathering of the waters called G-d seas; and G-d saw that it was good.” (Seeds also created this day.)

Day 4 “And G-d made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; and the stars…and G-d saw that is was good.” (Stars also created this day.)

Day 5 “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let fowl fly above the Earth in the open firmament of the heaven…and G-d saw that it was good.”

Day 6 “And G-d made the beast of the Earth after its kind, and the cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the ground after its kind; and G-d saw that it was good. And G-d said: let us make man in our image after our likeness…And G-d created the man in G-d’s own image, in the image of G-d created G-d him, male and female created G-d them…And G-d saw everything that G-d made and behold, it was very good.”

Day 7 “And G-d finished on the seventh day G-d’s work which G-d had made…And G-d blessed the seventh day and hallowed it; because in it G-d rested from all of the work which in creating G-d had made.”




Medicare Part D Prescription Evaluations Available for Seniors (December 11, 2007)

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Nashville, Tenn. (December 11, 2007) - December 31, 2007 is the enrollment deadline for Medicare seniors to complete their prescription plans. This daunting task, a nightmare for many seniors, is a maze of bureaucratic jargon and details that the even the brightest among us can have difficulty with.

For instance, there are 53 different plans to choose from and not all pharmacies work with all plans. The wrong plan, as discovered by Bob Neaderthal, M.D. while working with senior members at The Temple, can increase their costs anywhere from $1,000 to $18,000 annually for prescriptions.

Dr. Neaderthal found that using the wrong pharmacy could be a costly error as well. “Patient savings as high as $11,000 were realized simply by going across the street to the ‘plan pharmacy’ and ordering the exact same prescriptions,” he said.

Each year, The Temple, a reform Jewish congregation in Nashville, and Dr. Neaderthal sponsor complimentary Medicare Part D prescription evaluations for its senior members. During these events, the doctor personally works with each senior and reviews his or her current Medicare prescription plan, comparing it to newer or revised plans for the coming year. The process entails Dr. Neaderthal tapping into Medicare’s website and utilizing its software evaluation program.

In 2005, Medicare launched a prescription drug benefits program, known as Medicare Part D that assists people 65 and older, and some younger people with disabilities, who have difficulty paying for their prescription drugs through private insurance companies. Medicare also initiated a website program to help enrollees determine what is covered under the 53 individual drug plans that will be available in the coming year as well as which of the plans is the most economical for them.

Open enrollment in Part D plans began November 15 and ends December 31, 2007.

“In 2006, there were 44 plans. Since there are now over 50 Medicare Part D drug plans in Tennessee from which to choose, it is critical that every senior utilize Medicare’s website to help them make this important decision,” said Dr. Neaderthal. “We have found that using any other method to decide which plan to join can result in paying thousands of dollars too much for drugs.”

The Nashville internist also works with many of his own patients to help them better understand the never ending changes within the Medicare bureaucracy. Dr. Neaderthal notes that the cost savings are incredible. “However, conversely, choosing the wrong Medicare drug plan can be a crushing blow to a senior’s tight annual budget.”

Although Dr. Neaderthal does these senior prescription evaluations on a volunteer basis for as many as he can, both at The Temple and in his private practice, “there is only so much of him to go around and most seniors are still left without help,” said Robb McCluskey, chair of The Temple’s Social Action Committee that annually sponsors Dr. Neaderthal’s Medicare evaluation sessions.

“For today’s youth, who grew up with computers, this is easy stuff.” said McCluskey “However, for those who went through high school or even college before the computer era, it’s not so simple.”

Seeing the value of these evaluations and the need to reach more and more seniors, Dr. Neaderthal created a solution: a simple “how to” guide for website access to the federal government’s Medicare Program. This step-by-step guide may be found on The Temple’s website at www.templenashville.org.

“This simple guide is a great way to engage families and friends to work with seniors,” said Dr. Neaderthal. “The government’s website, while overwhelming for most seniors, is designed to help them more easily gain plan comprehension and correct plan selection. Having a family member or friend doing the physical entering of data for them will go a long way in getting these seniors on the right plan, at the right price and without the worry of overpaying ,” said Dr. Neaderthal.

However, there is one caveat, he notes. “The Medicare Part D Program is a plan to ease the financial burden of the cost of drugs for seniors. It is not designed to be a plan of free drugs, and in many cases, it gives relief but can still be costly. It does not take the place of other cost saving measures such as using generic drugs, mail-order options, or pill splitting.”

The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, (www.templenashville.org) is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation.

To learn more about Dr. Bob Neaderthal’s efforts with seniors, he may be reached at rlnmd@bellsouth.net, or contact The Temple’s Social Action Committee Chair Robb McCluskey at robbmcc@comcast.net.




Step-by-Step Guide: How to Determine Which Medicare Part D Drug Plan Is Best for You (December 11, 2007)

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By Bob Neaderthal, M.D.
December 11, 2007

Dr. Bob Neaderthal is a practicing physician of internal medicine in Nashville, Tenn. He is a member of The Temple (www.templenashville.org), Nashville’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation that concerns itself with the well being of seniors through its Social Action Committee. Its Social Action Committee annually sponsors for its senior members a complimentary Medicare Part D prescription evaluation that is conducted by Dr. Neaderthal.

READER'S NOTE: It is advisable to seniors to make annual evaluations of their prescribed drugs using this guide to determine if there are better plans available each year that could save them more money on their prescriptions.

INTRODUCTION
Nashville, Tenn. (December 11, 2007) -In 2005, Medicare launched a new program called, Medicare Part D, that would assist seniors who have difficulty paying for their prescription drugs. In helping Medicare recipients decide which of the plans is the most economical for them, Medicare also initiated a website program.

Since there are now over 50 Medicare Part D drug plans in Tennessee from which to choose, it is critical that every senior use the website to help make this important decision. We have found that using any other method to decide which plan to join can result in paying thousands of dollars too much for drugs.

This document shows in easy-to-use steps how to discover which plan is the best for you.

1. Visit, www.medicare.gov, then click on the first topic: Medicare Prescription Drug Plans - 2008 Plan Data NEW!

2. You will be taken to a page called, “Find and Compare Plans that Cover Drugs.” Click on “Find & Compare Plans”

3. On the next page, click on “Begin General Search”

4. The next page is called “Find and Compare Plans” Enter your zip code and answer the five questions. If you are not sure of the answer to the last three questions, click on “NO” Then click “Continue.”

5. At the next page, click “continue” then enter “Enter My Drugs” on the next page.

6. On the next page, carefully write the name of one of your medicines in the box. If there are more than one preparation of the drug you entered, the program will ask you to clarify which preparation you take. Highlight the correct preparation and then click on “Add Selected Drug to Your List”. Keep entering names of drugs into the “Enter Drug Name” until you have listed all of your medicines. Then press “continue.” If you are taking any over-the-counter drugs or vitamins, they may not be listed because the Medicare Drug Plan covers only prescription drugs.

7. The next field shows the drugs you listed, but some of them are in drop-down menus. These menus allow you to select the exact dosage of the drug you take. Make sure all of the drugs are listed in the correct dose. In the “Quantity/Days Supply,” you need to enter the number of tablets per month that are taken. If you take one pill a day, that number would be 30. Two pills a day, the number would be 60. If you take only one a week, the number would be 4. If you forgot any drugs, you can add more by clicking on “Add More Drugs.” If you are finished, click on “continue.”

8. Passwords: After putting all these drugs into the program, you are now asked if you want to save the search so you can come back to it and look at it later. If you want to do this, enter a month, day and year that you can remember (like your birthday). Then press “continue.” If you do not want to save the search, click on “skip this section.”

9. Pharmacy Search: The program then asks “Do you want to select a specific pharmacy or pharmacies from which you prefer to purchase your drugs?” If you click on “No,” then the program will take you to the calculation of drug plans. If you click on, “Yes,”, then you can enter a pharmacy in your zip code.

10. Your Personalized Plan List: you have arrived at a listing of the 5 most economical drug plans. If you are signing up for a plan (or considering changing plans from your current plan), then you have until January 1, 2009 to join a plan. If your current plan is not on the list of five plans, then you can find out how much more expensive they will be next year, compared to these five plans, by scrolling down to just below the five plans, and where it says “Show” click on “All One Page.” Then, scroll down toward the bottom and find your current plan.

11. How to Interpret the Personalized Plan List: The table displays the five least costly plans in order of their cost. The least expensive is the first listed. On the table, you will find the name of the plan (first column) and the estimated annual cost. This is the amount you should be paying for your drugs in 2008. The 6th column will show a number that gives the pharmacies that participate with this drug plan in your zip code. Click on the number and you will see the names of all the drug stores. See if yours is on that listing. If not, you may want to select another plan or you may want to change drug stores. If you click on the name of the drug plan (first column), then you will get a breakdown of the cost for your medicines. This includes the monthly premium, the annual deductible. At the bottom of the field, you will find a bar graph that shows estimated costs per month for the 12 months of 2008.

“The Medicare Part D Program is a plan to ease the financial burden of the cost of drugs for seniors. It is not designed to be a plan of free drugs, and in many cases, it gives relief but can still be costly. It does not take the place of other cost saving measures such as using generic drugs and using mail-order options.” -- Robert L. Neaderthal, MD, MBA

A community service of The Temple’s Social Action Temple(www.templenashville.org)




Becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah Is Not Just for 13-Year-Olds (October 28, 2011)

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Nashville, Tenn. (October 28, 2011) – It has been a childhood dream for Joyce E. Friedman of Franklin, Tenn. to be called to the Torah as a Bat Mitzvah, “daughter of the commandment.” She is finally having her chance at age 54, when Jewish girls today commonly perform this Jewish ceremony at the age of 13. But it wasn’t always so.

Friedman grew up in Memphis, Tenn. and was raised studying Reform Judaism at Temple Israel. There, it was uncommon for girls to become a Bat Mitzvah at age 13, while she watched the boys became a Bar Mitzvah, says Friedman.

The regular celebration of girls becoming B’not Mitzvah came into prominence in Reform congregations particularly in the second half of the 20th century, and is generally identical in form to the celebration of a Bar Mitzvah.

Being surrounded by family members who have celebrated this Jewish rite of passage inspired Friedman. At age 13, Friedman’s son, Matthew, and daughter, Linzi, became a Bat and Bar Mitzvah as well as her husband, Don. Additonally, she has been attending all her friends and husband’s nieces’ and nephews’ bar/bat mitzvahs over their 27 years of marriage.

“I was the only one in my immediate family who had not been called to the Torah, and I came to realize that it was not too late to start,” said Friedman. “By becoming a Bat Mitzvah, allows me to affirm my commitment to the Jewish people and my Jewish community,” said Friedman. “Additionally, it is always important to challenge yourself by continuing to learn. Learning Hebrew and to read it from the Torah without vowels definitely has challenged me, while also bringing me closer to its teachings and spirituality.”

Historically, Bar/Bat Mitzvah has been viewed as a first step in a young person’s acceptance of the obligations to family and community as a responsible Jew. It was and should continue to be the beginning of a lifetime of the performance of mitzvot (meaning commandments, and also known as moral deads and acts of human kindness), study, prayer, and a commitment to share the destiny of the Jewish people, say rabbinic scholars.

As a member of The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom for the past 17 years, Friedman has studied Hebrew for one year now with its cantor, Bernard Gutcheon. She is planning to perform her Bat Mitzvah in November.

Coincidentally, her sister-in-law, Barbara Friedman Polansky, 58, of Rockville, Maryland, was also studying Hebrew at the same time Friedman was. So, they have planned to have a B’not Mitzvah, “double” mitzvah, together, in Nashville at The Temple on November 11, 2011. Their Torah portion is about the bonding of Isaac.

Their b’not mitzvah date transposes into 11/11/11, having a double significance like the word “B’not Mitzvah” means. According to Chinese numerology and Feng Shui for the year 2011, their B’not Mitzvah date is one of four dates that happens only once every 800 years. The others being 1/1/11, 1/11/11, and 11/1/11. Additionally, if you take the last two digits of the year you were born and the age you will be this year, the result will add up to 111 for everyone.

There are other female Temple members who chose to study Hebrew for their Bat Mitzvahs later in life because it was uncommon for them as well when they turned 13 years old. Betsy Chernau, at age 56, celebrated the 20th anniversary of her Bat Mitzvah by re-reading her Torah portion at The Temple’s recent Yom Kippur service on October 8, 2011. Cindee Gold, who had her Bat Mitzvah ceremony at age 30, will celebrate the 20th anniversary of her Bat Mitzvah next year, and plans to re-read her Torah portion then as well.

Friedman is a Realtor® in residential real estate sales of new homes. Previously, she was in public relations for 25 years. She is a member of The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, its Women’s Torah Study Group, and a past member of its board of trustees.

Friedman’s mitzvot project, a recommended step in becoming a Bat/Bar Mitzvot, focuses on feeding the homeless by working at the Nashville Mission’s men’s kitchen. She also provides ongoing volunteer public relations support to The Temple as well as Kiwanis Club of Nashville, the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Tennessee Obesity Taskforce (www.eatwellplaymoretn.org). She is the daughter and stepdaughter of Sonny and Felice Bauman of Memphis, Tenn. and the late Eleise Rich Bauman.

Polansky is senior program manager for constitution, bylaws, and trademarks in the General Counsel’s Office of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C., and is the sister of Joyce’s husband, Don. She is a member of the Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington, D.C. and has been studying for her Bat Mitzvah under Gerdy Trachtman., associate principal of Washington Hebrew Congregation.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple is home to more than 725 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region in Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, and Sumner counties, as well as southern Kentucky. Mark Schiftan serves as its senior rabbi, Shana Goldstein Mackler as its associate rabbi, and Bernie Gutcheon as cantor.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE HISTORY OF THE BAR/BAT MITZVAH
The establishment of becoming a Bar Mitzvah at thirteen years plus one day for boys and a Bat Mitzvah at 12 years plus one day for girls has several origins. The Talmud records that during the time of the Second Temple (520 B.C.E.–70 C.E.), it was traditional for Sages to bless a child who had completed his first fast day at the age of twelve or thirteen. In Pirkei Avot (“Ethics of the Fathers,” second century C.E.) it is written, “At 13 years old, one is ready to do mitzvot.” By the time the Talmud was completed in the 16th century C.E., boys of 13 years plus one day had assumed full responsibility for performing the mitzvot, hence the term, Bar Mitzvah, “son of the commandment.” This also had legal ramifications: These boys were now counted in a minyan (which is a quorum of 10 Jewish adults required for certain religious obligations), and could act as witnesses. There was no formal rite, only a public blessing by the father that he was no longer responsible for the sins of the son.

The earliest Bar Mitzvah ceremony consisted of blessing and reading the last section of the weekly portion of the Torah, the maftir, meaning the extra reading, since the boy was not a Bar Mitzvah until after the service, and reading the haftarah portion. The most important part of the rite was a d’rashah or d’var Torah, a sermonette on the Torah or haftarah portion. Since the Bar Mitzvah was assuming adult religious responsibilities, he was expected to show his understanding of those responsibilities to his family and, more importantly, to the community. Structurally, the Bar Mitzvah ceremony is essentially the same as it originally was. It wasn’t until the 17th and 18th centuries that we find records of a Bar Mitzvah being invited to lead part of the worship service.

A public ceremony in celebration of a girl becoming a Bat Mitzvah, “daughter of the commandment,” did not come into formal being in North America until 1922. Dr. Judith Kaplan-Eisenstein, the daughter of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, blessed and read the Torah portion from a book “at a respectable distance” from the Torah scroll. The regular celebration of girls becoming B’not Mitzvah came into prominence in Reform congregations particularly in the second half of the 20th century, and is generally identical in form to the celebration of a Bar Mitzvah.



Urban Green Lab Co-Founder to Speak at The Temple's Green Team Meeting (July 15, 2011)

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Nashville, Tenn. ( JULY 15, 2011) – Dan Heller, the president and co-founder of Urban Green Lab, will be the guest speaker at The Temple’s Green Team meeting on Tuesday, August 9, 2011, 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Heller will discuss his team’s vision to catalyze a culture of sustainability by building Urban Green Lab, Nashville’s first-ever community center dedicated to sustainable living. Projected to open in 2012 in the Inglewood neighborhood of East Nashville, Urban Green Lab will be building a state-of-the-art green building at the intersection of Maxey Lane and McGavock Pike, a $1.5 million project that is still in its fund-raising stage. It is envisioned to be a meeting place for students and adults to learn about everything from energy efficiency to urban agriculture. The lab is an official 501 (c ) (3) project of Trust for the Future.

Heller has over 25 years of business, marketing and real estate experience to apply to the launch of Urban Green Lab. He is known as a strong advocate for small business and neighborhood beautification in Nashville, and is credited for making visible improvements to the dingy commercial buildings at Riverside and McGavock in 2005 which blossomed into Riverside Village. Through Heller’s efforts in garnering community support, the area has become a popular destination of 100 percent locally-owned restaurants and shops. The City Paper described the dramatic transformation as a “textbook example of a small-scale project making a large impact.” Heller was awarded East Nashvillian of the Year by the Historic East Nashville Merchants’ Association in 2009 for his work.

The event will be held at The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, 5015 Harding Road, Nashville, located next door to the Belle Meade Mansion. For reservations, call (615) 352-7620.

The Temple’s Green Team committee promotes environmental awareness and Earth-friendly initiatives within The Temple’s building and the community.

Founded in 1851, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, (www.templenashville.org), is Nashville, Tenn.’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. As a reform congregation, The Temple is home to more than 725 member families and serves the Middle Tennessee region in Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, and Sumner counties, as well as southern Kentucky. Mark Schiftan serves as its senior rabbi, Shana Goldstein Mackler as its associate rabbi, and Bernie Gutcheon as cantor.







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The Temple
Congregation Ohabai Sholom
5015 Harding Road
Nashville, TN 37205
615-352-7620
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www.templenashville.org

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