SynagogueBlog.com  Jay Shapiro's tour of our local South Florida Temples, Shuls and Synagogues

68. Rok Family Shul. 35 SW 9th St. Miami, FL 33131

 

Sunday December 10th 2014. 14th of Av 5774

4th Annual YJP White Party – Tu B'Av

 

The party was to start at 8pm and go till about midnight. I typed The Rok Family Shul into Google Maps and headed south from Fort Lauderdale only to land at at building on the corner of Miami Ave and 1st Street. It was a terrible part of downtown with homeless people every few feet lining the sidewalks. Barry Epstein APR happened to call me about a Luxury Chamber of Commerce event at a foodie venue up in Delray and I mentioned it to him and he was kind enough to look it up online and his results were also the same but he gave me the Rabbi's phone number so I called the Rabbi and no answer as expected. I then called the guy I know who supports Israel more than anyone in the world Mr. Claude Ariel. He explained to me that the mapping system in that part of Miami is messed up and so I typed SE 9th St. into my GPS and proceeded to walk almost a mile. For the first time in my life I encountered anti-semitism. As I was walking someone put a fist out of the window of a Ford Explorer and spoke to me in Spanish that they are pro-palestino. I remember myself hoping that it was just some young 18 year old punk trying to get attention rather than someone who truly felt that way. Finally arrived on foot and was pleasantly surprised at the shul. 4 story modern building with a penthouse, a pool table room, a rooftop nightclub, a mikvah, I mean if you reside in downtown Miami and are an observant Jew this is the place to be!!! The event was at the Rabbi's Sky Bar or Sky Lounge which is essentially a rooftop party place for young Jewish people. The people were all dressed in white. A large sushi bar offered unlimited supplies of not only sushi but pigs in a blanket with mustard, french fries and chinese noshables. I only saw a couple of familiar faces and chated with a couple people. At this event it was mostly about dance music, booze (unlimited drinks at the free open bar) and just having a good time. The cover charge was only $36. double Chai! I will certainly return for some events in the future and glad I attended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

67.  Moshiach Center 770.  4538 Inverarry Blvd. Lauderhill, FL  33319

Tuesday October 8th 2013.  

Evening Mincha Service.  Attended services with HaRav Asher Girshberg.  We rode there together in the rain after a day of hard work.  This was an evening service at the time I was scheduled to host a cocktail party fundraiser for breast cancer (Bright Pink 501c3) at The Ritz Carlton, Fort Lauderdale Beach.  I had to cancel the ritz cocktail mixer because the donations simply did not come in.  Ended up in shul instead.  Everything happens for a reason!!  Thank you Hashem!  Will blog more soon...

 

 

 

Tuesday Kol Nidre Services 2012 /5773 Tishei Erev Yom Kippur

 

Temple Nashuva Los Angeles, CA

 

12000 West San Vicente Blvd.

 

Los Angeles, CA 90049

 

6:30PM - Started out with a band dressed in white playing Ya O Say Shalom

 

Rabbi invited the torah holders to come up front. Look around and introduce yourselves to people you don't know and say Hag Sameach! Before we bigin Kol NiDRE please turn off all cell phones. Male cantor with long black hair sings start of Kol Nidre. Rabbi Naomi Levi speaks: Vows we make to G'd do not evaporate into mist. On this night let us refrain from making vows from you. Its all about G'd forgiveness, “you can see the mood is changing in the room” Let all the people of Israel be forgiven and let all people be forgiven. G'd spoke: “I have forgiven them just as you asked” Rabbi yells out: Grab a shoulder. Join me for shehefeiyanu at bottom of the page, may G'd bless us with a new year.

 

Rabbi invited the congregants in the far back to sit in the first two rows, she kept the first two rows empty for this purpose (or perhaps they were emply for other reasons) The heavens seem closer now, you own the darkness, you paint the stars in the sky, bless you G'd for bringing on the light. Take a deep breath n and out, get comfy, uncross legs and arms, relax, in hold it and OUT, again another deep breath”: Yom Kippur is a time to let go of the sins, the baggage, let go of worries, let go of the darkness, and ??????? the Light. Hear what the people of your life are saying to you even when they are not speaking. Take this time now to say a prayer for your family, country, and world. Say whatever it is you need to say to G'd. Breathe in lightness, breathe out the darkness! (meanwhile two candles burning on the table) long moment of silence, breathing meditation, in out, in out. Music starts again: Our G'd is One. Adonai, Our G'd is One. Rabbi: Keep ur eyes closed, take deep breath in. Chorus: Shalom Israel, Adonai, Eloheinu, Adonai Echad! Baruch ))))))) Mazeltov, Amen, I missed a word or two there, sorry about that!! Ashkivenu Adonai, Eloheinu E-Shalom, choro, choro chorus “””””””, this shul knows how to get down!! Rabbi Naomi, Give us the power to look within our souls and discover how we need to change. The Amidah for Yom Kippur is found on page 14. 3 steps back 3 steps forward. Adonai etc. All of a sudden: Black Reggae Band Comes on Singing a song, something about Salaam, Shalom Aleinu, Aleunu de Amor, o Alam Salaaam, it seems to be a mix of Klezmer, Reggae, and Salsa. Now Rabbi invites Brett Barenholtz to the Bima who spoke about Neshuva and how its brings Jews back, many of whom have not been to a Jewish service before. We all come together to bring out world a little closer. Neshuva does not have dues and everyone is open to join yet you can donate: Rabbi speaks and final Eleinu salsa song version with the whole crowd dancing. Congeros, 3 guitarists, simply AMAZING!!

 

 

 

65. Wednesday September 28th  2011 Erev Rosh Hashanah Services

Congregation Beth Adam - Loveland Ohio

Its a very warm feeling shul. About 150 people were present for Erev Shabbat Services

 

Must be very liberal because the rabbi was not wearing a yarmulke.

 

 

Rabbi started the service by having his cell phone ring to show how annoying it can be. Lol

 

Comparing past actions with our ideals cannot always be painless.

 

 

Female Rabbi: Some come here out of reverence, some out of duty, and some out of deeper meaning. For all these purposes a community is formed. Without community our lives would be impoverished. Do NOT seperate yourself from the community. Chorus, chorus, Do I present myself as a member of the tribe or do I shrink myself passively? Have I been less than I can be?

 

 

Attractive lady with short blond and black hair spoke yet she spoke a little too fast for it to absorb in my mind. It was like they say in Spanish: mil por minuto (thousand words a minute) she spoke about Joshua & Caleb not wanting to hurt a lady and yet deal with a pack of Caananite men. They tackled her and she called them giants they where shocked as they were simple slaves. Women stated that being slaves made them stronger etc etc, she needs Joshua and Caleb, they let her go if she agrees to secrecy.

Caleb trusted her yet knew he could trust her yet to not trust anyone. Let us choose to be GIANTS and not to be slaves!!

 

Reading on page 8. Inner search, measuring realities against dreams. This is a time for truth, a time to respond to difficult to questions. I hide in safety and confort of what I already know. Have I put off important decisions? Have I grown too sophisticated to be amazed by the universe?

 

 

Choir sang a song: “In my light of truth” first time I'd ever heard this. In my light of truth I see myself.

 

 

Pepper blondy: Accepting our finite nature does not limit us because everything we does changes the universe, the world and beyond. We cannot rely on a moral authority. Our legacy is that of a caring legacy. We are called to feed the hungry, clean the rivers, clear the air, and lessen the suffering in the world and to NOT be content in our inheritance. To open our hearts to the world is to raise the spirit of our own lives.

 

Rabbi: Not talking about economics and politics is not good to talk about on high holidays. The country is losing faith in congress to help the problems $ talked about faith, meaning of faith, faith allows them to cope, warren buffett was not talking about religious faith, he was talking about a trust amongst human beings. It would be easy to rail against political leaders. When we lose faith in another it makes us smaller. VERY GOOD SPEECH assuming it has no political agenda. Failure to live up to our standards is not permanent. Rosh Hashanah are moments to renew. We do not live in the past!! We live in the present and plan for the future. EVERYONE HAS THE POWER TO REGAIN TRUST!

FORBES: tricks to gain trust!!! Easy to be cynical. So much harder to see the good we have done. Remember the noble acts, people do not see the good things they have done, they focus on the negative, they need to focus on the positive!!! WE CAN DO BETTER.

All life springs from one cause. We are an intelligence unfolding to live that certain life. We are everyone the source of benediction and life.

 

 

 

Friday, December 24th 2010, 17th of Tevet 5771. Kabbalat Shabbat evening services at Temple Beth Orr (The Coral Springs Hebrew Congregation) in , Coral Springs, FL. This was the second time attending services at Beth Orr. Last time was on December 30th 2005 when I was doing my tour of 52 south Florida synagogues in a year. At that time Temple Beth Orr was the eight shul I'd visited in the tour. I was only 33 back then and its amazing how a person can change in just five years and equally amazing is how a shul changes in only five short years. They have undergone a remodeling and it seems to me they have new wooden seats, new paint, a limestone Jerusalem style Torah ark and many upgraded decorations and fixtures. The basic layout of the shul seems about the same. There were four reasons for me to return to this shul again: 1.) Was reminded by a friend Neil Moscowitz how much of a scholar Rabbi Mark Gross is. 2.) I am dating a nice lady from Coral Springs who enjoys attending shul with me. 3.) Wanted to return after my previous blogging at the advice of the Rabbi. 4.) Was reminded by an article in the Jewish Journal about the temple celebrating their silver 25th anniversary.

Unfortunately the rabbi was not present on this night. Gene Klein was filling in for the rabbi and he kindly approached us and presented us a weekly Parshah flyer which was in Hebrew. The shul and its congregates seemed much more professionally dressed and even older than I remembered it from last visit yet of course only about 40 people were in attendance on this particular night so one must never try to judge a shul of 450 families by about 1.5 – 2% of its membership base. Gene was very funny as a fill in Rabbi, he changed yarmulkes every time he changed roles as rabbi and assistant. It seems he was provided with a weekly schedule which was actually made up for the next week and started to read through it only to realize it was a week off, he rolled through it as if it were planned in a comedic manner. Services were shorter than usual, felt like about 40-45 minutes and I do not think that an Oneg was planned or at least there was not an announcement made about one. Hopefully it will not be another five years before I return for a visit again.

Temple Beth Orr

2151 Riverside Drive

Coral Springs, FL 33065

www.templebethorr.org

 

 

 

64. Friday, December 17th 2010, 10th of Tevet 5771. Kabbalat Shabbat evening services atTemple Beth Emet in Cooper City, FL. Since its getting harder & harder to find synagogues which I have not yet attended I decided to drive all the way out to Cooper City. The shul is huge and very beautiful. It was built in the year 2000 yet the congregation has been in operation since the 1970s. They hand the siddurs' out as passing through the door and I had to go back to get mine as I did not realize this at first. I said my Shabbat Shalom yet its such a large shul and only about 40 people were in attendance on this evening so it seemed people were not engaging in the meeting & greeting I would have liked to see. I felt as though I were at a synagogue where nobody knew anybody. A place of omnipotent potential suffocated in an abyss of hollow grandiosity. Rabbi Bennett Greenspon reminded me of the story of Moses and Aaron. Rabbi seemed to me to be a sort of Moses in creativity and in speech hence he could use an Aaron to speak (possible guest speakers) and promote his shul, as his voice was humble, timid, and lacking in the confidant nature of a successful rabbi. The cantor Jan Sheer was AMAZING, she sounded better than Barbara Streisand!!! Her Hebrew was sung with such heartfelt strength that it was amazing!!! I am sure many congregants attend just to hear the cantor cantar. Some interesting things happened on this day: Normally one should not enter Shabbat fasting on the 10th of Tevet, I was anaware of the fact yet I entered shabbat fasting by mistake! (simply did not eat) Also, in secular years December 17th 2010 marks a day in history for myself. It was 20 years ago on December 17th, 1990 that I put my hands on several thousand dollars in cash for the very first time.

Services were interesting, Rabbi made an attempt to have the room sound like an orthodox synagogue from yesteryear by having half the room sing in English and the other half chant in Hebrew to create sort of a cocophony of mixed sounds. The effort did not go far as with only 40 people in the shul many not singing and those who sang almost wispered. It was like you could hear a pin drop in this large beautiful temple of potential. Rabbi also brought us outdoors to teach the congregants what he called a “ritual” under the moon. He taught us to say: Shalom Alechem, Alechem Shalom. I was very perplexed as to why the moon and how it parlayed into a simple hello in Hebrew. The Oneg Shabbat was small and nobody seemed to know anybody. I am not trying to talk bad about this shul, I want to help them. Somebody should read this blog and not only say a prayer to infuse energy and sociality into this shul but: CONNECTEDNESS!!!

Temple Beth Emet

4807 So Flamingo Rd.

Cooper City, FL   33330

 

Friday, December 10th 2010 - 3rd of Tevet 5771. Kabbalat Shabbat evening services at Temple Bat Yam in Fort Lauderdale, FL. This was the first time I'd been to shul in the new year of 5771. I got tired of going to shuls alone and recently started dating a wonderful lady who likes going to synagogue so I decided it would be nice if we attended together. I've been to this Fort Lauderdale synagogue twice before yet its been about four or five years since attending. One thing I noticed is that attending as a couple the mostly elderly group of congregates gave twice the attention and they all loved to introduce themselves and see who we were. Not much has changed apart from having a new rabbi. Rabbi David Spey is now the rabbi replacing Rabbi Littman who still attends and serves as Rabbi Emeritus. This weeks Torah portion was about Judah approaching Joseph to plead for the release of Benjamin by offering himself as a slave. The rabbi spoke about this being an opportunity rather than a test, an opportunity for the brothers to reconcile. Furthermore he made the analogy of strained relations between Israel & Turkey and some news about patching up the relationship. Old brothers whom tend to fight yet need to get along in the long run. He spoke about responsibility of blame and the difficulty of figuring out who is to blame in a quarrel because as he said: “When you dance the waltz of conflict, it takes two to dance” The rabbi did a very good of making one reflect on ones own reconciliation and time of responsibility which I enjoyed very much. One thing I thought that was interesting in the cantorial agenda (Cantor Wendy Autenrieth) is that they performed Eloheinu in Ladino (the language of Italian & Sephardic Jews) and in this song was the word Dio, the girl I have been dating who was with me tended to say: Gracias a Dios (thanks to the G'ds) and I explained that in Ladino they say it correctly (thanks to Dio) singular as in meaning One G'd. It was just before we attended shul I explained this to her and she got an opportunity to utilize and see the word being used in action so I was very pleased as was she. At the Oneg Shabbat we had some wonderful carrot cake, and other chocolate morsels and fruit. And Rabbi Emeritus Littman sat at our table and told us a story about Rabbi Ben Bag Bag who's most famous quote was: “Turn the Torah over and over for everything is in it” He explained that he has taught the same Torah portions and studied them and read them over 100 times yet every time he saw something new in the text. He explained that every time something new just popped out of the text.

 

Temple Bat Yam

5151 NE 14th Terrace

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334

 

 

 

63. Tuesday March 9th  2010. Beit David Highland Lakes Shul. The previous day my Jewish soul started to yearn Jewish events and Jewishness in general and so when opening the email invitation from  Rabbi Chaim Albert I'd received from facebook I noticed that their were over a thousand invited to the event yet only 8 yes rsvp's so I went to work and invited I think 137 people. Before I left the yes number was 24 and rumor has it that by 7pm it was over 30 and I think about 40 people showed up for the event.  Upon arriving early I walked up and the rabbi was there speaking with some other early birds and talking about Minnesota and one lady turned to me and said: Aren't you also from Minnesota?  I said yes! How did you know?  Turns out she was my friend on facebook and we even knew a couple people in common back home.  As for the shul itself its great. The shul is like a little orthodox version of The Mondrian Lounge in that it is very modern and even has a couch and chair lounge area in the lobby,  how comfy and how quintissential Miami? This weeks shiur was titled: "Have a little Faith" and was about fire & water and how these elements pertain to: relationships, success, spirituality, & learning to trust G'd. The rabbi was very engaging and passionate as he would engage members of the audience and question them. The class was about how their are two different types of people, those whom are fire and those whom are water. In face the whole concept made me think back to earlier classes from Rabbi Akiva Tatz and a Rabbi from my home state of Minnesota Mr. Manis Friedman, both of whom talk about male and female qualities in the soul and how they play out in responsibilities and desires. However the fire and water concept is not something which discriminates like the concept of: (the male soul comes from the origin of divine transcendance and the origin of the female sould comes from the origin of devine imminence), this was something related yet completely different. Rabbi told the story about Yossele the Miser who was a very wealthy man in Russia who would invite people into his house and ask them what they needed and he would write everything down and then kick them out without any reason.  He never seemed to give to charity and although he was ultra wealthy he was the cheapest person in town. The local rabbinate came to him upon his deathbed and told him to donate tzedakkah or they will not bury him in a Jewish cemetary, he told them: Ah,  get the hell out of my house.  It happened again and again and finally he did pass away. Nobody came to his house for shiva after his passing and no respects were paid. Couple days later the local rabbi had a knock on his door and it was a local student needing to borrow some money to make it thru shabbat, an hour later the same thing happened and again and again etc, that night the rabbi went to sleep only to have a dream of a man radiating white energy and that man told him: it is I, Yosselah and I was supporting the people in the village and kicked them out of my house after the tabulations only because I did not want to embarrass them for taking money. The next day the rabbi held a meeting and they ended up hosting the largest funeral in his honor that the small village has ever had. Rabbi also told a story about a yeshiva student who studied for 12 years and learned nothing and all the while his wife supported him, she said I'd like it if he goes back for another 12 years and this time hear learned and garnered 24,000 followers and upon his return to the village he announced that: the honor of this one woman is such that her deed is stronger than the goodness of all of you 24,000. students combined.  I cannot re-write the rabbi's stories verbatim yet LOVED listening to them and hope to return soon. After the class I got to mingle with some friends and also got to meet some new people. They had an open bar and some light noshables also. Got to visit a little with my newfound friend from MN and shooze with others. It was a great evening indeed.

 

Beth David Highland Lakes Shul

2600 NE 209th St.

Aventura, FL 33180

http://bdhlf.org

305-935-4140   

 

 

62. Friday January 1st 2010 and Saturday Jan 2nd 2010. Lubavitch Aventura South. Friday Night Service/Shabbat Dinner at Rabbi Mendel Rosenfeld's w/Rebbitzin and guests and Saturday morning services.

Writing the blog over a month later and my apologies as the time lapes skewers the blog and leaves out most intimate details. From what I remember is that I'd met a girl at the Matzo Ball event about a week earlier and was very excited to go to shul with her and so we did.  The girl/lady I am referring to had just started to become orthodox/observant so I thought that it was interesting that I taught her quite a few things even though I was never fully observant or orthodox.  We arrived at shul late with a bottle of wine for rabbi and rebbitzen and Rabbi Mendy had us put the wine down near the bimah on a table as we are not permitted to walk from the shul to the house with an object as this shul does not have an eruv. The lady who invited me asked what is an eruv and so I sort of explained it and the rabbi went into correct detail about the fact that its a string like a fishing line connected from a synagogue to a neighborhood or destination to permit carrying items on the Sabbath/Shabbat. I won't blog much about kaballat services as we arrived so late that services were almost over. We walked to the rabbi's house after services where we picked up some of the food at the guards gate in the community. It was myself, my friend, Rabbi Mendel, and three young ladies from latin america, two from Venezuela and one from Costa Rica.  Upon arriving I got to meet the rebbitzin, the children and some guests,  one lady was from Colombia and her husband was American, a very pleasant couple and in fact one of the torahs at the shul was donated by the lady from Colombia and Rabbi Mendel Rosenfeld's father was also a very well respected Rabbi in Colombia who did many a mitzvah in his day. Also present at the shabbat dinner was a very pleasant lady from London and with this lady from London I got along very well.  I mentioned that I am from Minnesota and she stated that she had a family member whom was about to go to the Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, MN and was inquiring about the fastest and easiest way to get her family member there.  I offered to refer some people whom I know in the jet charter business and also offered the budget option of: http://airfaretoisrael.com . The dinner was AMAZING,  there was a salad that I had and I kept reminding rabbi n rebbitzin that I WANT THAT RECIPE!!!  Conversation was very varied at the dinner table and I am going to keep it to myself.  On SATURDAY JAN 2ND,  I returned for morning services and met alot of great people. OMG,  I just remember,  Victor from Egypt sponsored the dinner. Its a kosher bakery and I think its on 163rd if I remember correctly. And the Cholent was AMAZING!!!  I will give this shul: FIVE STARS, AND ONE TORAH!

 

Lubavitch Aventura South

2825 NE 191st St.

In the social room of the Courtyard Marriot

Aventura, FL  33180

http://www.lubavitchaventurasouth.com

 

 

61. Wednesday, December 30th 2009, 13th of Tevet, 5770. Chabad of Golden Beach, FL. Wednesday Night Live service for unmarried professionals w/ Rabbi Chay Amar. Every week Rabbi Chay Amar hosts a singles lecture with a different topic and I have known about this for quite some time as he has a huge following in the Aventura area. This passed year has been very hard on my businesses and so I have not been focusing on shul going as much as business networking, salvaging, and reinventing business. It took a very sweet Bukharian Princess to get me back to shul. I happened to attend Menorah Madness the week before on December 24th at Acqualina Hotel in Sunny Isles. The event was great and I met a very nice observant girl who insisted that I attend this class/lecture with Rabbi Chay Amar. It was Wednesday night and I met her downstairs at her apartment building in Aventura. She presented me with some wonderful sushi, almond n' macadamia nuts, and two

Clementine oranges as she knew that I'd been working hard and was probably hungry. I drove her to the shul which was located by Ramada Inn on the corner of William Lehman Causeway & Collins Ave in Golden Beach. I'd heard of his classes and the location before from friends yet based on how I interpreted their location of it I expected it to be the rabbi just renting a small banquet room in the Ramada. I was VERY pleasantly surprised. This is a very elegant, well built, and established shul and it is not part of the hotel like I'd previously envisioned. Parking under the bridge of the causeway was actually free so that was nice. I parked my car and we walked in together and went to our own respective sides of the room. Women on one side, men on another, a middle area with both men and women, and a couple exceptions where people insisted on sitting where they chose to sit. The Rabbi did not force anyone to sit in any particular area. I sat down and shortly thereafter my friend Alex Sender showed up and sat down next to me, he happens to attend many Jewish events and I'd like to find him a good lady so if anyone knows of a fairly religious Jewish girl in the age rang of 26-34 feel free to contact me and I will try to play Yentl matchmaker. One of the rabbi's assistants passed out paper and pens to all 100 people present at the weekly event. Rabbi started speaking about his topic of the night: PERFECTION. We all have a different idea of what constitutes perfection in a mate. The man might want a woman who is: Attractive, loyal, loving, pulls her weight in the career area, and still manages to run the family and handle religious en devours. (***I am not paraphrasing the rabbi, only rephrasing a general idea in my own words) and the woman might be seeking a man who is: loyal, loving, attentive enough to listen to her 24/7 and yet hard working enough to work two or three jobs to bring home the kosher and wine her/dine her at the fancy restaurants. “All in all our ideas of perfection might be very selfish” and that comes from my mouth not the mouth of Rabbi Chay Amar although he inspired me to say it. To illustrate some points the rabbi had us write down on the previously passed out piece of paper and here is roughly what I wrote:

Side A.

THREE TRAITS YOU THINK YOUR SPOUSE WOULD LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF

 

THREE TRAITS YOU THINK YOUR SPOUSE WOULD NOT LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF

 

Loyal

 

Big Spender

 

Intelligent

 

Big Dreamer

 

Good Person

 

Too Generous

 

 

Side B.

THREE THINGS YOU WOULD NOT WANT TO LIVE WITHOUT IN A SPOUSE

 

Chemistry

 

Sex/Affectionate (I really mean that I need my spouse to be loving and touching etc etc..)

 

Easy Going

 

 

The rabbi then collected all of these papers and pulled them out randomly and read them out loud to the audience. Many laughs were had and many jokes were told and a good time was had by all. I will not disclose names and details yet I hope if you are reading this and you are single that you will consider attending one of Rabbi Amar's Wednesday night singles services. He spoke about these traits and made examples from his own relationships before he got married. One of the biggest things I got from his knowledge that night was that my humble Minnesota-Norwegian background is in direct reciprocity to the concept of erasing part of yourself for your mate. (My family has taken this to the extreme) When the Rabbi first spoke of this I was slightly perplexed yet figured it out a day later when I got a phone call from my Bakharian Princess about going to shul on Saturday morning. She said it would be very important to do so and I explained that I have always been more of a kaballat shabbat Friday night kind of guy with a few beers afterwards. It then dawned on me that perhaps to make this relationship work I should erase part of my passions. (not all of them and only part of part of them) so I decided to erase part of my morning laziness and go to shul on Saturday morning. I really got a lot out of this service which Rabbi Chay Amar provides and he actually called me two times before on my cell phone number to get together over business and ideas. Its amazing how some people just end up together in the long run. Will try to write more about this shul soon. Great Experience!!!

 

Chabad of Golden Beach

19201 Collins Ave.

Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160

http://www.chabadofgb.org

 

Tuesday August 18th,  J.A.C.O.B. - Jewish American Chamber of Business hosted monthly chamber luncheon at Chabad of West Boca Raton.  Notables present were: Mindi Bressler, Eyal Cohen, Rabbi Denberg, Jon Sahn, Matt Levin, Senator Ted Deautsch and about 35 other prominent business people.  More to come as I am VERY VERY busy and have almost no time for blogging.

Monday April 27th 2009, Iyar 3rd 5769. Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center (Aventura JCC) Sanford L. Ziff Campus. Erev Yom Hazikaron Memorial Service for Israeli soldiers.

 

Was actually not planning do do anything on this particular evening yet a friend from Israel called me last minute and mentioned the memorial service in Aventura. We rode down there together. It was my first time ever visiting the Aventura JCC. Its very nice and if you go check out the antique Judaica area where they display important artifacts in Jewish history, of interest to me was an ancient olive oil amphora from hundreds of years ago. The JCC here is very nice, security was strong, and attendance for this Israeli event was good. A lot of the stuff was in Hebrew so I did not understand apart from the Hebrew words which already existed in my vocabulary. The whole service lasted about two and a half hours and incorporated many rabbis and community leaders who spoke of memories of passed loved ones who died serving the Israeli military. Some of the soldiers mentioned were killed before the state of Israel was founded in 1948. It was a sad service which spoke of how these young soldiers never got to go on to get married, have a family, etc. It truly was sad and the whole experience made me appreciate life even more. As for the speakers the Israeli Consul General was there along with his assistant and I saw a cantor I know and a few AIPAC people present amongst the crowd of about 600. I am not going to mention as many names in the synagogue blog as it pertains to Israeli events. For obvious reasons of security and confidentiality.

 

Tuesday April 28th 2009. Iyar 4th 5769. Chabad of East Boca Raton. Met with Rabbi Ruvi New for the second time with the intention of assisting with promoting some upcoming events. Rabbi and I seemed to come up with a few plans for events which will be announced very soon yet for reasons of confidentiality I will not share them here until the time is ripe. Before leaving the rabbi had me put on Tefillin and we did the essential bar mitzvah, I never had a bar mitzvah before so it meant a lot to me to put on tefillin and fulfill the mitzvah and speak the words in Ivrit.

 

Tuesday April 28th 2009. Iyar 4th 5769. Torah Study with Rabbi Denberg at a private residence. Rabbi spoke about whats going on the in the world and how its important to be middle of the road. I totally identified with this because I tend to see value in the left and right and in all realms. Middle of the road is the place to be so long as a vehicle is not driving towards you on the middle of the road. I think it was Dante Alighieri who disagreed with middle of the road philosophy. Thank G-d we are not followers of Dante and in fact followers of anyone for that reason. (only Hashem) Setting aside that whole conversation we also spoke about torah values and some confidential conversation.

 

60. Wednesday, January 14th 2009.  Chabad of Downtown Fort Lauderdale - Weekly Wednesday Singles BBQ & Beer Mixer. The first shul of the secular new year and the 60th shul when Israel is actually 60 years of age at least in her modern state. Rabbi Schneur Kaplan  and Rebbetzin Devorah Kaplan hold a weekly singles BBQ mixer at their home / shul on Wednesday nights in conjunction with JSouthMate.com and founder Jay Nightingale. About 30 people present at the event mostly late twenties and 30s crowd. After the beer and BBQ rabbi spoke of Israel and politics and mentioned that politics and military need to be seperate entities.  In other words the IDF should be run by military people and not politicians whom have never fought in a war. During a time of war the war people need to manage the war.  Rabbi gave some good examples from the torah and did so in plain English so that everyone at the event who did not speak Hebrew could easily understand. If you are a young professional in the Fort Lauderdale area I'd highly recommend this humble synagogue in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

4th Day of Chanukah.  26th of Kislev,  December 24th 2008.   The Eve Ball  &  The Matzo Ball.  If you scroll far enough down in the Synagogue Blog you will see that last year I attended the overcrowded Matzo Ball and declared that I would probably attend a competing event the following year.   I did just that.  I attended Cary Romanz' Eve Ball in Delray Beach. The turnout at the Eve Ball was not as strong as I'd like to see yet it was more pleasant than being canned in like sardines at last years Matzo Ball.  At Delux nightclub I got to catch up with an old friend and from there we went to Elwoods Blues bar by the train tracks and called it a night.  Since I live in Boca Pointe I decided to stop in to the Matzo Ball as its right by my house.  It was the same,  the turnout was as they say in Spanish:  Ni Cuatro Gatos Aqui,  "Not Even Four Cats Here".  I spoke with Gino the head of security and he explained that the promotor of the Matzo Ball selected too many venues for one night and that last year their were only two major parties going on and this year about seven major parties including the competition.  

 

 

59. Friday, December 19th 2008,  22-23rd of Kislev, 5769.  Chabad House - 23rd & Collins, Miami Beach.  Kaballat Shabbat pre-Chanukah & Cuban Food Dinner with guest speaker: Superbowl Lineman Alan Veingrad.  This was certainly one of the most unique synagogue experiences I have ever had.  I was invited to attend by a lady I had met the previous night at my Chabad Fundraiser in Fort Lauderdale,  she was from Venezuela and since I taught English in Venezuela we seemed to get along good.  This Chabad House is famed shul which hosts the Chabad on Wheels and does the annual Chanukah on Lincoln Road.  The rabbi is Zev Katz and the Hazzan present was Moshe (Moises) Buryn whom I met the previous week at the Chabad Chayil torah dedication.  Since I am a promoter Moshe inquired about promoting a concert.  Since I hear nothing but good things about his talents I will most certainly follow up on the concept. The synagogue itself if sort of a warehouse or industrial / commercial building with a black ceiling and the pipes and cables showing so to make it look nicer they draped tarps from the ceiling to give it a tent look and in fact it resembles some local upscale restaurants which have achieved the same desired effect of ambience.  After the typical kabbalat shabbat prayers Rabbi Katz wasted no time in introducing: Alan Veingrad as the guest speaker from Dallas, TX.  Alan told some great stories about the wilder side of college days, his entrance to the NFL, his experience as a Jew in Green Bay, the transfer from the Green Bay Packers to the Dallas Coybows etc.  He even passed his superbowl ring around and it fit on my finger perfectly. (we are the same height & weight)  I will not go into details on the stories he shared because I don't know if he would want me to publish them here or not so I will not try to paraphrase or retell the great stories of determination which fit so well in the Chanukah season. As for the food it was Cuban or Latin American Spanish influenced cuisine; arroz con pollo, a nice salad, some vodka, whisky, etc. It was a great night,  the shul,  the speech, the compeny.  Very good prelude to one of my favorite holidays.  Chanukah.  The Festival of Olive Oil. Dedication, persistence, some quality extra virgin oil and in the long run some miracles do happen and that is what Chanukah is all about.  Please use olive oil and not candles!!!

 

Peace,

 

J.

 

 

December 18th, 2008.  Pre Chanukah Fundraiser for Chabad of Mumbai.  America's Backyard Club & Concert Hall in Fort Lauderdale.  Since I am becoming more known for doing events one of the managers at America's Backyard contacted me about doing a fundraiser for Chabad so I gladly accepted and immedietely went to work soliciting raffle donations.  For raffles I landed four champagne cruises from Tropical Sailing,  two remote controlled helicoptors donated by Allen Silberman (from his toy store at the Carnival Flea Market),  a box of color business cards from Deborah Meltzer at: yourprinting.net,  a $250. photograph shoot from JoeyGPhoto.com,  a bottle of Sonoma Loeb wine donated by Nick Loeb,  two subscriptions to Lilith magazine,  a one year membership in Israel Chamber donated by yours truly,  a booth at Olive OilFEST (Florida's Mediterranean food show) donated by yours truly, a tree planted in Israel with dedication of choice donated by myself through: PlantatreeinIsrael.com,  and many more.  Altogether we raised about $360.  Drinks were free from 8-9pm and we had about 80 attend the event.  Photos posted below:

Tropical Sailing Champagne Cruise

Donna & Angie, winners of a cruise donated by Tropical Sailing

Attendees of Chanukah Fest Fundraiser

Lft to Rt. - Donna Karen Rosenblum, Joy Feder, Ariela Yona

Olive Oil Menorah

Olive Oil Burning Menorah. Since it was not yet Chanukah no blessings were said yet the whole menorah was lit for its light and beauty and to promote the usage of olive oil for the upcoming Chanukah Festival

 

We had quite a crowd, about 80 people from all different age ranges, many Israelis, many Americans.

Olive Oil Tasting

Some of the oil's present were: Rancho Los Amigos from California which was fresh pressed on 12/12/08 and its freshness made it so strong that many people coughed and could not handle the strong flavors yet I think its yummy on salads, Rovello from Italy which was a bit milder, and finally Pereg from Israel on the right which was the most delicate of the three.

 

 

December 14th, 2008.  17th of Kislev, 5769.  Chabad Chayil - Highland Lakes, Aventura, & North Miami Beach, Florida, 33180.  My first ever Torah Dedication Ceremony.  I had a board of directors meeting on Sunday for the Jewish American Chamber of Commerce and one of my board members mentioned the Torah Dedication and I had recieved invite previously via email so he did not need to twist my arm too hard to get me to go to the event.  I have been to this shul twice previously yet on the way this time I noticed a couple of other shuls located right nearby of which one was a Sephardic synagogue.  When we arrived the rabbi had celabratory Jewish music playing on the streets and torches were lit.  This is a black neighborhood with a huge increasing Jewish population.  I mentioned that sometimes in certain neighborhoods the rap music is played loudly and certain people sometimes complain.  On this evening the Jewish music was blasted very loud from the ghetto blaster (please research the origin of ghetto)  and the local black people stood by in honor and admiration.  In fact one or two of them participated in the event.  I participted as well at the insistence of some outgoing diplomats and for the first time in my life I dance with the torah.  I was very proud,  a little nervous as its ALOT of recognized power and responsibility of which I never really lived up to before.  I was very honored though and hope to attend more of these sorts of events in the future.  

December 8th,  10th of Kislev 5769.  Went to my first ever David Broza concert.  I say first ever because most people I speak with have seen him perform many times before and they all plan to go back again soon including myself.  It was a cold nippy Sunday evening at Mizner Park so I am sure the attendance was affected by that but about 300 - 400 of his fans were there.  His music is sort of like a mix between rock, blues, and flamenco guitar.  Probably the best solo performance I have ever watched live.  After the concert I got home just in time to catch Dudu Fisher  (wow what a name) on channel two so I got to watch two Israeli soloists in one evening. Dudu will be coming to South Florida on March 25th.   For those of you who would be willing to donate to Chabad of Mumbai the JACC Jewish American Chamber of Commerce is donating one hundred percent of proceeds from Chanukah Fest 5769.  The event is on Thursday the 18th at America's Backyard Club & Concert Hall in Fort Lauderdale from 8:00pm - 10:30pm. 8-9 will be a free open bar and we will be hold a raffle.  A cruise has been donated to the raffle yet we need more donations.  Details will soon be announced on:  www.FloridaJewish.org

 

 

December 4th, 2008.  6 of Kislev 5769.  Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, FL

COMMUNITY MEMORIAL & SOLIDARITY GATHERING

 

I recieved an evite from a friend to attend this memorial meeting.  The Mumbai attacks are not something which I try to focus on yet its impossible not to and considering a strange personal experience possibly connected in the metaphysical realm its hard not to take look at it.  On the night of November 25th I remember feeling a deep and strong fear for the country of Israel.  I could not explain it and its not something I ever felt before at anytime in my life.  The fear was so powerful that as a grown man of 6'3 - 230 pounds I almost started crying.  As November 25th turned into the 26th I sent an email to the government of Israel. The email was as follows: (including signature so scroll down to read more)  Header stated:  Something Important!!!

 I hope you will not view me as some sort of a crazy person but my intuition told me to contact the government of Israel.  Be on alert for Thanksgiving.  I have no logical reason for saying this.  Just a feeling.  Please take me seriously and with the right amount of high security whatever it is will be fine.

 

 

 

Jay Shapiro

 

Executive Director

ICOTA

Israel Chamber of the Americas

 

 

561-376-0033

 

Email was sent to:  webmaster@pmo.gov.il  

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 12:07 am

 Subject:  Something Important!!!

Attachments:

 Text version of this message. (431B)

 

 

So I sent the email to the office of the Prime Minister and others in Israel,  posted my concern on Facebook.com and emailed some other people to pray for Israel.  I don't know if my messages were ever read nor if they made any difference but what I felt was strong and I was not going to take the warning without trying to contact somebody.  I emailed Israel because I felt 100% certain of an attack.  Turned out the attack was on India.  Its too bad I did not email India also.  I am very sorry Rabbi and Rebbitzin Holtzberg and the rest of the people of Mumbai.  I promise I will do better in my performance of mitzvahs and that you will not be forgotten.  Here in the synagogue blog there were only a few times when I spoke of things which were not related to shuls.  The only restaurant I ever reviewed in the Synagogue Blog was a Northern Indian restaurant.  I love people from India, the food, and the general desire for rightousnous which many of its citizens adhere to.  On this fine night Rabbi Kaplan and Rebitzen Kaplan did a superb job of bringing Jews in from all backgrounds and making the point that a Jew is a Jew is a Jew regardless of religious observance etc.  Rabbi invited my favorite speaking Rabbi Wachman from Temple Shalom in Pompano who delivered about as good a speech as one could deliver given the sad circumstances.  Rabbi Wachman has an energy and wisdom about him that transcends boundries.  Also present was Rabbi Littman who is very well respected as a humble & highly experience rabbi in Fort Lauderdale.  I once dubbed his synagogue as the blond shul and I hope he did not take offense if anyone ever noticed it on the blog. (lots of blonds attended the shul)  The President of the Jewish Federation of Broward County was also present the esteemed Mr. Eric Stillman who spoke about our community working together for the better.  On behalf of the Florida ADL - Anti Defamation League ADL was represented by Rabbi Andy Rosenkranz who almost cried through the whole speech.  He spoke of events throughout our history and to modern day.  This shit has been wearing on him because he is the Florida Regional Director if ADL.  He's a good guy, has a big heart, works his ass off and has a 9 year old daughter.  If anyone reading this can do anything about it: Talk the ADL into giving this guy a promotion and a paid vacation for him and his family for a couple weeks.  Its my opinion and I am seldom wrong.  A statement was issued by Congressman Ron Klein's office via a secratary,  along with the consul general of Israel - Florida via Karen Guterman who did a very nice job and in my feeling will become one of the stonger community leaders in the not so distant future. Mayor Jim Naugle was reported to be present yet I did not see him this time,  last time I saw him he started chatting with me and I did not even know who he was.  The time before that he attended one of my food and wine festivals and still did not know him but now I do.  A rep for Al Lamberti was there.  Ellyn Bogdanoff was also supposed to be there yet heard nothing from her.  The only two people who really needed to orchestrate the whole thing were present:  Rabbi Schneur Kaplan & Rebitzen Kaplan.  Rebitzen Kaplan gave a great speech about Rivka. Many mothers choose to name their newborns Rivka based on the light that Rivka brings to this world.  Even if its now from above.

 

 

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008, 5769.  Congregation B'nai Israel in Boca Raton. Rosh Hashanah Service. Services started at 4pm and were held by Rabbi Marci Bloch.  Services were dominated by her and the cantor hardly got involved, ( hope she did not have a sore throat or something) the shofar blower was a different one than the one two or three years ago when I attended Rosh Hashanah services there. The congregants there were almost exactly the same group yet with a few new faces.  Rabbi gave an excellent speech about words,  she stated that research has shown on average people speak about 10,000 words per day.  ( men about 1000 and women about 19,000? lol ) She asked the congregation to raise their hands if they have heard of pop acoustic guitarist and celebrity John Mayer and about 87% of the congregation did in fact raise their hands. It was the song: "Say what you need to say" that fit in with this years Rosh Hashanah sermon,  its what Maimanodes and many scholars have been teaching for years.  She also asked the congregation to raise their hands is they always said what they mean and I only remember seeing one middle aged lady in a red shirt raise her hand.  I had attended services this afternoon with my friend Iftach from Israel who is also on the board of directors of one of the companies I own.  He noticed that I am not much of a Hebrew scholar and asked me if I ever had a Bar Mitzvah and I told him that I did not.  He volunteered to organize my Bar Mitzvah. So sometime soon I might have a Bar Mitzvah and if you are reading this you could be invited.  After services Iftach and I went to the 20s and 30s Oneg group where they had green apple Martini Networking.  The Martinis were great and they gave me an idea:  www.MartiniFestival.com  

 

Congregation B'nai Israel

Yamato Rd

Boca Raton, FL  

 

 

 

58. Monday, September 29th, 2008, 5768-5769 Erev Rosh Hashanah. Temple Kol Ha Amim in Sunrise, Florida.  They actually have two branches,  one on Deco Drive in South Beach and one in Sunrise. Services started at 8pm. Its a very spiritually uplifting service which features the Shalom Israeli Band, some klezmer musicians, and a couple of great cantors. Rabbi Loring Frank starting services with a hilarious skit titled: "Heneni:, (here I am) The Heneni skit had the rabbi speaking in the torah ark asking G-d why he has not been listening and G-d replied I have been listening but you were too busy to notice.  It was an interesting service in that the rabbi presents the High Holidays material from points of view that can be accepted by orthodox, reform, reconstructionist, evolutionists, atheists, and even people of other religions.  It always fun to watch the same concept be presented in a different light. (unless its a lawyer doing the presenting) Rabbi spoke about evolution and how one rabbi stated that apes became human when they started to believe in G-d and that another point of view is that they became human when they developed a conciouss. The High Holy days siddur borrowed prayers from all parts of Judaism including: Maimanodes (Ram Bam), Chassidut, Psalms, etc. The cantors were great,  the young Margo Lansky was wonderful and I was surprised to hear such great sounds coming from such a petite person. The Israeli cantor Ronit did a song called: Om, Home, Shalom which combines Sanskrit, English, and Hebrew with the constant denominator being the OM. The service was also very patriotic and all of the major songs were cantored in both Hebrew and English,  songs like: God Bless America, The Star Spangled Banner, Kol Tikvah, etc. It was a nice experience and if you know of anyone who comes from an interfaith family you might want them to consider this shul as a comfortable option to those who are new to Judaism.

 

Temple Kol Ha Amim

7455 Collins Ave Suite 201

Miami Beach, FL 33141

www.RabbiOnline.com 

 

 

57. Wednesday, September 17th, 2008. 17th of Elul, 5768.  Chabad Chayil in Highland Lakes. This was shul number 57 and I am glad it was not Heinz and rather an A-1 and not too far from A-1-A. My visit to the shul was brought about by the visiting Rabbi Naftali Citron from the Carlebach Shul in NY. The name of the event was; "Eve of Kabbalah"  Rabbi spoke of Kabbalah and showed how it was not something he made up.  He opened the Shofar and illustrated how ancient Cabalists would take credit for their prayers by writing each subsequent letter of his first and last name vertically and all one would need to do would be to look at the first letter of each sentence and instead of reading from right to left read from top to bottom and only read the first letter of each sentence,  sure enough they spell out the first and last name of the rabbi who wrote the prayer hundreds if not thousands of years ago. The rabbi spoke of some very interesting things and presented them in a manner which was much more diplomatic than the pop culture of some of the other kabbalah organizations.  The shul itself was founded by Rabbi Dovid Bryn and is essentially a Talmudic Library in a home.  They was warm and welcoming and accept people from all backgrounds and walks of life.  I hope I get to learn more from Rabbi Naftali and to visit Chabad Chayil again in the near future.

 

Chabad Chayil

2601 NE 211 Terrace

North Miami Beach, FL 33180

 

 

Friday, August 22nd, 2008. 21 of Av, 5768.  Temple Emanu El in Palm Beach.  It was a wine and cheese mixer / Kabbalat Shabbat Service with live acoustic band complete with clarinet or oboe, drums, guitar, keyboard, etc.  Pretty much the whole congregation got a kick out of it when they perfumed the Sex in the City theme song which was actually a remake of a Jewish klezmer or other varietal.  I have been to this shul once previously yet if my memory serves me correct, at that time, Rabbi Michael Resnick was not at services and it was recommended I come back when he is. The rabbi was great,  spoke of being good and of being good when you are alone because somebody is always watching.  He made a parallel of an email he sent out about an email he got back stating: "please take me off your mailing list" so he attempted to forward this email to someone in the office of the shul (perhaps a manager or webmaster)  and stated something to the effect of: "gosh who does this lady think she is; its not like we are sending her porn"  The rabbi pointed out that he accidentally click on reply to all and she the sender got the email. When he realized this he sweated for several hours and realized he had just made a BIG mistake.  He did the honorable thing and called her to apologize and to his surprise she picked up the phone and said: "Rabbi its so nice to hear from you,  I wanted to be taken off the list because of the fact that I miss going to shul there so much that every time I get an email I get sad"  All in all the service was great, rabbi was humorous and intelligent, the cantor was every bit as good as last time and he seems to be a big force in the congregation.  To learn more about this shul simply scroll down and find my last review which was probably a couple of years ago.

 

Temple Emanu-EL of Palm Beach

190 N County Road

Palm Beach, FL  33480

 

 

 Friday June 27th 2008. 24th of Sivan 5768. Beth David Congregation in Miami, Florida.  I had not been to shul in a few weeks and after visiting 56 synagogues it gets harder and harder to find one which I had not attended before.  On the way to shul I invited a couple of Israeli friends to shul: Yossi & Ido.  (real names witheld) Yossi phoned me back and asked me if I had reservations.  For a moment I was wondering if he was Jewish and or if he had ever even been to shul.  I explained that to go to synagogue you do not need reservations.  We got into a conversation and the gist or rather the ending of the conversation was that Jewish American shuls are well funded by Federations and other sources and the Israeli shuls have no funding so if you arrive without a reservation you may be turned down.  I explained that apart from High Holidays you do not need to pay unless you stick around and become a family member of the shul. One Idea I have: lets take a few dollars from Federation budget and give to Sephardic shuls & Israeli shuls and when that does not work lets all go out to a field and pour Israeli olive oil on a pile of stones and prounounce that area betel. (or at least Betel of South Florida) For  those of your wondering it comes directly from the Torah; Bereshit (Genesis).   At Betel All Jews Daven FREELY!!!  

 

  I was very eagar and excited to attend services at Beth David Congregation. I found out about this temple by doing a search on FloridaJewish.com. The ride to shul was pleasant, NPR radio was sort of boring at that particular moment so I tuned into some classic rock on 105.9 including AC/DC and a few other oldies which my old Jewish comic buddy George Carlin most certainly would have enjoyed.  (G-d bless his soul and at least we have his humor for the remembrance) When I finally arrived at this shul I was amazed!! Its like the White House!!! It is that big and it has pillars in front of it like the friggin White House!!!!  Its considered Miami's oldest congregation as it was founded in 1912. The only problem is that when I arrived there were no congregants entering the shul.  I came back half hour later figuring it might start at 7:30 as opposed to the 7:00pm which was posted on the website. Still to no avail, no congregants.  I finally was able to speak with the shul's security guard. The security guard explained to me that this is the one Friday of the year they do not offer Kaballat Shabbat services based on the fact that school was just out and people are preparing for summer camp & vacation etc.  He was the nicest and most knowlegable shul security guard I have ever met!!  So while I went to this shul on this certain date I did not participate in services there so my bloggings of this shul are on borrowed time.  I plan to return there soon to reveal the inside of this historical gem. When I do return I will not count it as shul 58 because it was counted as shul 57 here.  

 

 

Friday June 6th 2008 3rd of Sivan 5768.  America's Backyard in the Himmarshee Village neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Arriving at The Synagogue blog you probably expected to read about temple reviews; whether it be synagogues in Boston, synagogues in Minnesota, Synagogues in New York, Synagogues in Illinois, or Synagogues right here in Florida.  Truth is I was not in the mood to go to temple and a friend from Minnesota called me up and told me to meet him at a place called: "America's Backyard"  I arrived at about 8pm and walked in to this beautiful nightclub with a courtyard setting,  I could not find my friend's Ken & Sam because the crowd was about 300 thick.  Where I come from in Minnesota the only thing 300 thick are the Mosquitos. Finally after about 20 minutes I found my Minnesota buddy and friend Sami (originally from Jordan, yet a non-Muslim)  Ken bought me a Long Island Iced Tea and explained to me that if I sign up at the door everything will be free.  So I did.  Between the hours of 8pm - 10pm I had indulged in a free buffet, a free shot of Patron, a free Long Island Iced Tea, a free Corona and alot of shmoozing.   I also must admit that this club is TOPS in South Florida.  I have been doing the Florida club scene since the 1980's and I can honestly say that America's Backyard is in my top FIVE favorite nightclubs of all time.  Some of the clubgoers donned Diadora apparel, others were dressed in jeans and some were dressed to the 9's in fancy dresses like Christian Dior.  The environment of the club is amazing,  its an outdoors courtyard which is nestled between a couple of different nightclubs, I am not sure which nightclubs they are but I am 96.8% sure that one of them is VooDoo Lounge.  The club itself is very down to earth like the name suggests; AMERICA'S BACKYARD.  The people who attend the club range anywhere from 21 to 65 years of age.  The primary age bracket is the 26-35 year old crowd (which is rare in Florida) yet this club has a great mix of age ranges.  Its a two level club, the strobe lights are of the modern LED style,  many beer tubs abound,  I got to watch a man try to capture a drink in the world's longest straw!!  They had a straw stemming from one side of the bar (very long bar) to the other and the goal was to suck on the straw as if syphoning gasoline (like I'd know about that) to get a pressure built up and then to be able to tast the drink from the other side of the bar.   Perhaps sometimes we taste Israel here in America and it would be better to travel to Eretz Yisrael?  (just like the man trying to drink from far away) Who knows.   I have been to MANY nightclubs here in Florida.  I must admit that America's Backyard is amongst my favorites.  I also enjoy some of Jack Penrod's clubs like: Nikki Beach Club on South Beach on Sunday Nights,  or his Nikki Marina in Hollywood on Thursday nights.  I also enjoy Gigi's & Pranzo in Mizner Park in Boca Raton,  Aroma Israeli Nightclub in Hollywood, & The Leopard Lounge in Hotel Chesterfield - Palm Beach.  Shuls could learn alot from nightclubs.......   ...  ..

 

56. Friday May 23rd 2008. 19th of Iyar 5768. Congregation Beth Hillel in Margate, Florida. A Conservative Egalitarian Synagogue. This was the first new shul (synagogue I had not yet attended) I’d been to during the secular 2008 new year. I really missed going and hope that I never go several months between bloggings again. Basically I got so caught up organizing the first international olive oil festival that I did not have time to even breath with phone calls coming in every three seconds. For those who did not get to attend Israel FEST / International Olive Oil Festival you can watch the video at IsraelFest For the 2009 event I will have a huge staff working for me so I can take time to daven on Friday nights. Its been nice to live the life of a big shot though. Now I am semi retired, fishing, shopping, traveling etc. Not because I made a ton of money but because I got too burnt out and needed some fun R & R time. At least until the 2009 date is picked then will go back to the grind. Back to the shul blogging: I was originally invited to the congregation by the Rabbi signing my guestbook. I am glad he did because it was the perfect shul to get back in the swing of things with. it’s a senior shul and on this particular evening about 45 congregants were present. This shul got its start in 1975 when I was only three years of age. Several congregants wanted to have a daven port within strolling distance so they borrowed some chairs and books from other synagogues and shuls and found a store to rent and payed the rent with donations. The shul has grown to such an extent that it includes the space of six stores within the corner of the strip mall in which it resides. Services are conducted on Friday nights up until June and during the summer they continue on with Saturday morning services. The rabbi at this shul is Rabbi Polirer www.RabbiPolirer.com and he has some things in common with Rabbi Ivan Wachman. They both share an intense sense of humor couple with mastery of words. Truth is Rabbi Polirer takes it even further and he is a pleasure to listen to. I noticed that the prayer book was not from the USCJ nor any other certifying agency. The prayer book also had some works from Ruth Brin from my home state of Minnesota. I caught myself wondering if shuls which are not certified by a large agency (such as USCJ) have more liberty in expression and are able to be more independent when making decisions. I would think so and I would think that Rabbi Polirer could make more money at a 3000 family congregation yet I know he likes what he does and I am sure he finds ways to supplement income apart from the shul. The Rabbi was also the cantor and instead of morphing the words Cantor & Rabbi and calling him another Canti we will just call him: The Rantor. “Canti- Rantor, ForeSchnorr n’ 7 shuls ago“ = title of his next upcoming book. One thing that perked up my ears was that Rabbi spoke about the fact that if you are in Hollywood (not Hollywood, FL) and work as an actor and go to Israel you are pretty much guaranteed to not get a job in the movies. He pointed out that as Jews we created and own Hollywood yet the stars do not support Israel. Rabbi also pointed out that Jewish people comprise over 25% of mega donors (people who donate $10,000,000. Or more to charity) yet only about 1% of the mega donations are donated to Jewish causes and or Israel. The Jews give 99% of their money to Christian, Muslim, Environmentalism, Arts, & about 1000 other causes but not to Israel. He mentioned a list of non-Jewish stars who visit Israel such as Whitney Houston & John Voigt who supports Israel fervently. He stated that Angelina Jolie (daughter of John Voigt) and Brad Pitt never visited Israel yet her father did. For me to here the rabbi bring up the name Angelina Jolie was sort of strange to me because last week ( in late May 2008) I literally had a dream of a young Angelina Jolie coming up to me and using some quick witted sarcasm and telling me her name is Angelina Jolie. Most of you who know me or have read my blogs know they I don’t keep up on Hollywood and that I was never a TV watcher. I literally woke up from my dream and asked a friend: “Who is Angelina Jolie?” I found out who she is but I don’t know why she came to me in a dream. (and no it was not sexual or anything weird) I hope that her and Brad Pitt do decide to visit Israel soon. Getting away from Hollywood and back to services I should mention that the cantorial abilities, lyrics and traditional prayers do flow well within the congregation, the congregants, and they do incorporate all of the basics of a conservative shul yet in a manner which easily flows either like an artisian well or an olive press during harvest. As for the edifice itself; its quite nice and from the inside you’d never know it was in a strip mall. I hope that more people will consider supporting small shuls and especially ones which are not certified by big agencies. Its Hashem who certifies a shul.  Congregants do also!!!

 

Congregation Beth Hillel

 

7638 Margate Blvd.

Margate, FL

 

33063

 

Tel. 954-974-3090

 

Fax: 954-974-9129

 

 

 

 

Friday, February 22nd 2008. 16th of Adar 5768. Temple Shalom - Pompano Beach, FL.  First of all the secular date is quite interesting.  2-22-2008  The twos all add up to = 8 and 5768 boiled down numeralogically also boils down to 8. The two 8s together = 16 and 16 = 7 which is my favorite number. This date was also my bosses birthday. 2-22-2008 was the date in which my boss underpaid my monthly bonus check to the tune of about $3000. Stressed out over the lackluster bonus I left work early and decided to go to shul somewhere near the new apartment I just rented in Pompano Beach.  I had remembered that Rabbi Ivan Wachman held a superb service over two years ago just after I started writing the synagogue blog. I remembered that the shul was in the general area yet after I did a google seach I was quite delighted to find out that I now live only a block away from the shul with my favorite rabbi. I arrived at the shul and just like last time it was a mature crowd and again services were held in a room with the feel of an old world library. Rabbi and cantor are actually a couple of performers and they remind me of a Jewish odd couple or a sort of skewered version of The Rat Pack. Rabbi spoke about origin of Lai Lai Lai in songs and the Bidi Bidi Bom Bom as they both are stemmed from Chasidut and he had learned this on a Kaballah tour in Tzvat, Israel.  The basic concept of the Lai Lai verbage in the singing is that no word can be repeated in orthodox literature and so the humming of Lai Lai etc takes the place of repitition which could not be allowed otherwise. Rabbi also spoke of the two word phrase: Shalom Alechem.  He mentioned that it is plural and that technically it should be: Shalom Alech.  Turns out the reason for the plurality is that as humans we all have multiple dimensions and components. The humor, the La Strada Opera singing, and the rabbis intensity and passion were even better this time than last. Apart from the rabbi, the shul, the congregants etc there was something very coincidental which happened tonight.  If you recall earlier in this blog I wrote about an unpleasant experience with my employer.  Tonight I walked to shul for the first time in a long time and not long into the services we read a prayer titled:  "A Sabbath Prayer" by Ruth Brin. When I read the prayer I was awestruck.  It was about leaving the cruel employer to find freedom in Shabbat.  The whole prayer felt like it had been written just for me. I was so moved by the prayer that I remembered the page number. It was page number 14 in the Siddur.  I also remembered that it had been written by Ruth Brin.  Never in my life had I heard of Ruth Brin but for some reason the name stuck in my mind.  After shul I went home and decided to do an internet search in hopes of finding Ruth Brin's prayer.  I searched google for: "ruth brin a sabbath prayer" and I came up with Temple of Aaron in my home state of MN.  Its a shul I had been to a few times many years ago.  I clicked around to see if Rabbi Ginsburg was still there and to my surprise it was Rabbi Konigsburg whom I have written about before and who is a South Florida Rabbi at many South Florida shuls. I found the results of my search fairly interesting and decided to do another search. This time I went to google and typed: "Ruth Brin" and on the bottom of the page came up with: www.MnArtists.org and got to learn all about the author of the prayer which freed me from slavery.  She is from my home state of MN and she is an accomplished author including titles such as:  "Growing up Jewish in Minnesota" and her recently release novel: "The Most Beautiful Monday in 1961" Ruth also writes from The American Jewish World which is the newspaper I modeled Mondo Italiano (Italian World) after.  Many more interesting things happen this evening and in the past few months the law of attraction has been unfolding in some powerful ways. 8 degrees of seperation, timing, Baruch Hashem.  Call it what you will but times are GREAT!!!

 

 

Friday, January 11th 2008.  11am. Cafe Emunah.  I was invited by a friend of a client and we both arrived slightly before the restaurant opened at 11am.  The restaurant is actually owned by my uncle Moishe but my review of it is totally unbiased. Upon entering I was very surprised to see such a lovely place in South Florida.  Coming from Minneapolis I have been to many fine upscale modern restaurants but to see an upscale modern organic restaurant in South Florida was really quite a delight.  I think Fort Lauderdale has needed such a venue for along time. The menu is absolutely amazing!!  Its healthy and organic and the menu describes the food right down to the very last ingredient.  The dish that I had was the enlightened salmon crusted yadayadayada; I don't remember the exact name as it might have been a whole sentance long.    If you have never been GO!!!  The food is excellent. http://myemunah.com 

 

Monday December 24th 2008.  Matzo Ball Party in Miami at the Opium Garden Nightclub.

 

Very nice club,  great looking people,  and a packed house.  The club is very unique in that its booth indoors, outdoors, courtyard, and semi-indoor outdoor with elevated tented VIP area.  As for the party itself,  it was not that great.  I walked around and all I saw were guys trying to be very friendly to girls and the girls scrunching up their noses and saything things like;  "I hate these kind of parties" with squeaky New York accents.  I approached one lady and she instantly said:  "We have nothing in common"  If she were to get to know me she might find out that we were both born on the same day, we support organic foods, we like to party on Saturdays, we both love boating, we love shopping at the Galleria and we also both support the same charities and sometimes daven at the same shul.  But since her mind was made up I guess we have nothing in common. Perhaps she did not like the fact that I had a suit and tie on and most of the guys only had jeans.  I will vouch for the Israeli girls.  I kissed a couple of them and really liked Karen.  I hope she calls me someday.  The Israelis are very nice people, the kind of people I can get along with and always do.  Next year I will not do the Matzo Ball but will probably do another party such as Hotel Catalina etc.  All in all, good time,  I give it three out of five stars and subtract one star for the $12. drinks.

 

 

 

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Boca Raton, FL 33486   

 

Friday, February 26, 2016

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55 to fullfill your wishes

55. Friday December 21st 2007. 12th of Teves 5768. The Kabbalah Center of Boca Raton, Florida.

It was sort of an interesting story as to how I ended up at the Kabbalah Center for a Kabbalat Shabbat service.  As some of you might know that one of my sideline gigs has always included promoting events and functions.  One of the center's employees who handles marketing recently called me on my cell phone about possibly getting a booth at an upcoming food and wine festival I am organizing.  She actually found out about the event through some advertising I did with Boca magazine.  Per follow up email she let me know that services would be held Friday at 7pm and that I should come.  I indicated that I would only be able to make it if my 1-9pm shift at the company I work for decides to shut down early for the holidays. My manager Mark did in fact shut down the company early and so I went to services to see what it was all about.  When I arrived I was greated by a couple of lovely young ladies and then by a whole group of different people all dressed in white.  (White for a different reason than my old Miami Vice days)  A young man showed me the zohar and explained several things to me.  After being there for about five minutes a man sitting on the bench about five feet northwest of me looked back and smiled and introduced himself.  He said:  "I am David"  I said "Are you David _ _ _ _ _ _? so and so" and he said: "Yes"  I said:  "I work for you"  turns out he was the president of the company I work for.  I have only seen him on one other occasion because he does not stop into my division very often.  To top this off the marketing person who inquired about a booth at the food and wine festival told me her son works with me at the company also.  VERY small world and a very BIG one too, no?  I always love being surprised like that and finding not too many degrees of seperation between everything.   Services here are quite a bit different than synagogue services and in fact they do not consider Kabbalah Center to be a synagogue, nor do they even consider it to be Jewish.  It counts as synagogue #55 on the blog because I think that anywhere you can pour Israeli olive oil over a pillow or pillar of stones and say Jewish or ancient Hebrew prayers qualifies as a shul and is utilized as a shul by some and certainly not for others.  The services consist of the Rabbi (or is he a Rabbi?) calling out Hebrew letters on a huge overhead projector and reciting the letters and words in Hebrew and focusing on the minds desire which could be anything that you desire to change in your life at the time such as:  better relationships or sex,  more money, creating peace, etc.  Just focus on the outcome while reciting the Hebrew.  Traditional prayers are recited and a bow of the head is included on every referance to adonai. The woman are segregated from the men as they sit on the right side of the room,  "the side of reward and goodness".  It is not uncommon to see a woman come over the the other side of the room and kiss one of the men.  It is also not uncommon to see the men hugging side by side while singing a prayer.  The intensity of it reminded me of some Chassidic shuls yet even more intense.  People banged on the bimah and it was very interesting to hear the queen basketball victory song being played out with Zohar Hebrew.  It was that song where everyone bangs on the bleachers towards the end of the game and eventually ends up saying: "We will, we will rock you!!"  Many of you reading might wonder what is Kabbalah.  Many people will give many different answers but technically it is considered to be the soul of the Torah whose pupose is to transform one into a more perfect or rather G-dly person. Kabbalah means reception and to recieve wisdom or to receive anything for that matter one must have room to receive and so the practice is to empty yourself of ego and negative matter which might be taking up space.  The process to attain and learn seem to be related to:  biological timeclock, subconcious mind, zodiac, suggestive focus, neurolinguistic programming, success coaching, brotherhood, universal secrets and or hidden truths.  I read the book called 72 names of G-d which was given to me by a Kabbalist a few years ago but I know very very little about it so please don't put any credence on my perception of Kabbalah or really anything else as my blog simply aims to entertain and to bring enjoyment into my life.  If you have never been to the Kabbalah Center give it try,  it won't hurt and you might like it; regardless of your background,  we can all benefit from successful thinking.  

 

The Kabbalah Centre

8411 West Palmetto Park Rd.

Boca Raton, FL  33433

 

561-488-8826

www.Kabbalah.com 

 

 

 

 

Saturday December 8th 2007. 28th of Kislev 5764.  Chanukah.  Regal Sawgrass 23, Plantation, Florida.  Happy Chanukah, Hanukah, Chanuka, Festival of Glowing Israeli Olive Oil,  (however you say it) everyone!!! This evening I got to watch The Golden Compass at Sawgrass Mills.  The movie was excellent and included many Jewish undertones including dust or sparks of the universe, a tribe like the Macabees fighting for free will, and much more.  I will not disclose to much here, just go see the movie. Its great.  As for synagogues, I lied.  Have not been in awhile but plan to start going again soon.  Have been extremely busy with the business world recently.  If you are lighting candles:  DON'T,  switch to extra virgin Israeli olive oil if you can.  Peace!!!

 

 

Saturday November 3rd 2007.  Sorrento Cheese's "Feast of Little Italy" Italian American Festival in Jupiter.  Instead of going to synagogue on this date I drove up to Jupiter to attend the Feast of Little Italy.  I had a great time.  The event featured about a dozen Italian American bands and Sinatra style crooners, over 50 exhibitor booths, games, Peroni beer, wines, free cheese and food sampling etc.  I got to meet a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, a Vespa motorscooter vendor, some cigar aficionados, a couple Italian Jews, some dog lovers, and quite a few interesting other people. For those who don't know I came out with a line of t-shirts titled:  "got an extra virgin?"  if you'd like to see the t-shirt I was wearing click on www.floridaitalian.com The shirt was quite a hit at the festival and its online sales are a resounding success.  I was also able to get four potential exhibitors interested in the olive oil festival,. all in all it was great,  I now look forward to attending the Turkish Festival,  The Greek Festival, six other Florida Italian Festivals and the Israeli Festival.  In other news I started a job as a closer for a financial company and took number one spot my first day on the phone.  It feels great to be singing:  We're in the money, again!!   I plan to start going to shul again before the end of November so stay posted.

 

 

54. Friday October 5th 2007. 23rd of Tishrei 5768. Ramat Shalom in Plantation, Florida.

Shana Tova, It sure feels great to be back in Florida and going to shul once again. Ramat Shalom was not only my first shul while being back in Florida for the winter ( 9 months of wonderful winter here) but also the first shul of the new year and it was the first time in my life that I remember attending services at a reconstructionist temple. Part of my decision to go to this shul was based on the fact that I moved to Plantation because my house in east Fort Lauderdale sold and so I found a nice place in Plantation on short notice. Since this was my first time going to a reconstructionist synagogue many unanswered questions were racing through my head. I was under the assumption that reconstructionists simply think that G-d is just the sum of humans together. (I think I mistook them for the Humanitarian movement) Services were nice thanks to a very humorous and light hearted Rabbi Andrew Jacobs who tonight was doing an awful lot of singing, “thank G-d it was not a lot of awful singing“. Part of this might be his nature or the fact that the cantor was not in tonight. Rabbi also crooned with an assistant who played some nice melodies to complement the very traditional songs with the very non-traditional rhythm. This rabbi for some reason reminded me of a friendlier version of Alton Brown on the Food TV cooking show Good Eats. Perhaps it was his wet cents of humor. One humorous thing that he did was to have the entire shul rise for a prayer (35 - 40 congregants this evening) and then take it back by saying: “Just Kidding” lol. Good one rabbi. The rabbi spoke about Adam and Eve and the blame game aka passing the buck. He mentioned that Apples did not grow in that part of the world yet it was a fruit from the tree of life. I have always known olive trees to be known as the tree of life. Could it be that Eve bit into an olive? I am going to research that and if so I will start an educational campaign / marketing campaign for our IsRoil Brand Olive Oil. www.isroil.com Rebbi mentioned how Adam blamed Eve and eve blamed the snake and that in our modern society we play the blame game way to often and that we have to learn how to say: I’m sorry and to just live with being a failure now and then instead of trying to pass the buck, blame, or make someone else look bad. I could not help but thinking that perhaps this rabbi had watched Dr. Wayne Dyer about a month ago on PBS public television because the doc was speaking the same way not only about that but about parents who are dubbed helicopter parents. (because they hover over their children and make their decisions for them) Rabbi also mentioned the lady at McDonald’s who spilled coffee on herself and blamed McDonalds for her spill only to be rebuked later by a professor of law who was one of the congregants and was filling in for Paul Harvey on this night. And now for the rest of the story: McDonalds superheats their coffee so that by the time you are done with your first cup you will not go back for a second cup. I know this is true because I have had morning coffee at McDonalds and I had to put a quarter cup of ice in it to make it drinkable. So anyhow, the law professor pointed this out and the rabbi was genuinely and sincerely grateful to learn the rest of the story and to hear the other side. The conversations that took place there were all very constructive and that is what going to shul is about, its about being constructive by taking the fragments of the facts and putting them together to come up with good and truthful answers, that’s what it is to pull the fragmented universe back together again. People are like computers and we all need to relax and defrag now and then and whether its through a reform, orthodox, or recontructionist shul or even just sitting by the ocean smoking a peace pipe and playing a guitar with a group of friends, it does not matter the form or the title but the fact that the job gets done. I think that’s what G-d would want for his creation. All in all it was a great service where the congregants all felt connected and easily able to express themselves in a very thoughtful manner. Until next week my weekly readers and if this is your first time at the synagogue blog please sign my guestbook.

 

 

Olive the best,

 

 

Ramat Shalom

 

11301 West Broward Blvd

 

Plantation, FL 33325

 

954-472-3600

 

www.RamatShalom.org

 

 

 

Tuesday September 18, 2007. 6th of Tishrei 5768  -  Happy New Year!!!

 

  I officially declare myself the first snowbird in Florida for the years 5768 and 2007.  The word snowbird means one who gets on a big bird to fly south for the winter as soon as snow hits.  On Friday at 6am in Bemidji, MN some snowflakes were in the air and on that day I flew back south to Fort Lauderdale from Bemidji after spending the hottest part of hurricane season up in the north woods. My decision to spend August and half of September in Minnesota was based in part on my mother telling me that bubbe might not have long left to live so I decided to go north and help out with the family.  The good news is that my bubbe Faith is in the Mayo clinic undergoing radiation in the area of a recently removed soft tissue sarcoma tumor and she is under the care of Radiologist Ivy Petterson and Dr. Gold.  My indication is that she will have a 100% cure.  "G-d bless grandparents and the Mayo clinic"  As for being a snowbird I plan to do it every summer from now on, not only for family but also for good weather and appreciation of variety.  

  As for the synagogue blog there were not any synagogues in Bemidji, Minnesota because the inhabitants are 90% Norwegian, Swedish, and or  Finnish.  Perhaps there are a few more Scandanavians with Jewish souls who will one day start a shul in the north woods.  The north woods is a tough place to live and I am glad to be back in Florida and look forward to making some good things happen.  Baruch Hashem, G-d Bless, and Happy New Year to you all and may your year be filled with the flavors of Israeli olive oil, bread, and sweet spices.

 

 

 

 

53. Friday July 20th 2007. 5th of Av 5767. Chabad of Fort Lauderdale. (The Beach Shul) I recently moved from Boca to Fort Lauderdale and so walked to shul as this shul is only about a mile from my house on Bayview Dr. I have been to this shul before yet it was years before I decided to publish the synagogue blog so it does count as the 53rd shul in the blog. Upon entering I said; “Hello, Uncle Moishy” because last time I was there rabbi Moishe Meir told me to call him Uncle Moishy and I remembered and surprisingly enough he remembered me. The people at the shul were always very friendly and rabbi always comes back to make sure that I find my page and that I am comfortable because he knows that I am about as far from a torah scholar as one can get. The highlight of the evening was being invited to Shabbat dinner by Rabbi Yitzchak who lives with his wife two blocks from the shul. At Shabbat dinner was Rabbi Yitzchak, Rebbitzinin Nina who was pregnant (G-d bless them) Nina was born in my home state of MN, a young girl attending Brown University in Rhode Island (her online name is Michelle) and her father from Israel, an older lady who spoke Yiddish and recently moved here from another eastern European country, and Avi a homeopathic medical practitioner who just got back from living as an expatriate in South America and plans to move back there or to Israel. This was the first time I did Kiddush with the wine overflowing from the cup and drank it down fairly fast. I must admit it gave me a buzz because I usually drink extremely slow. I think that perhaps part of the purpose behind drinking it down fast is so that people can speak the truth and relax while with company. Everyone present at Shabbat dinner was animated and philosophical which I loved very much because I am that way myself. Conversation in the room varied from our academic backgrounds, to politics, business, the late rebbe Menachum Shneerson and people whom he had blessed including Rabbi Moshe Meir, rabbi also spoke about how it takes more energy for a Bal Teshuva to climb the goodness later of observance than it does for a Tzadek and thus stands in a place that the Tzadek could not even reach. All in all it was a good experience and I really look forward to the next time.

 

 

Chabad of Ft. Lauderdale

 

3500 N. Ocean Blvd

 

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308

 

954-568-1190

 

www.ChabadFtLauderdale.com

 

 

07-07-07

 

I have always had a dream of getting married on that date.  Its a secular number but it has the appearance of luck,  I met a nice gal on Jdate today, only problem is she lives in Queens.  In other news I have not been to shul in awhile but plan to start attending before the high holidays and actually observe them this year.  I have also been working on a major project which was an offshoot of my olive oil tradeshow.  Its to be titled:  Florganic, Florida's Organic Food & Wine Festival  I really hope some of you will take a look at the website and spread the work because this will be one positive and live changing festival G-d willing.  Olive the best,   J.

 

52. Friday May 25th 2007.  8th of Sivan 5767. Congregation Kol Tikvah in Parkland, FL

This Parkland shul (with a larger replacement on the way) was really family oriented. When I arrived I was encountered by a middle aged couple who told me I might want to lower the back hatch on my vehicle and I told them I have nothing worth stealing in the vehicle and she said she was worried about the rain and sure enough it rained shortly after a purely sunny sky. Upon entering the shul I realized it was quite loud yet the rabbi had an interesting method of calming them down by gradually lulling them in to his deep voice which contained solutions such as vibrate or off mode with respect to cell phones. Constant solutions and humor are coming out of his mouth.  I must admit I was humbled by Rabbi Alejandro Lilienthal's: grand performace, nature, and results. This rabbi does not just make a nice shul he makes and builds families. He speaks frankly, matter of factly and does so right from the spot where it is felt and received the most: “The Heart” The Rabbi is from Montevideo, Argentina and has been a rabbi and a student all over the world including such exotic destinations as Waco, TX which he remarked to his wife it was time to get out of there because we realized: "we’d be raising our children as Baptists". Lol. This Rabbi sounds like Lurch from the Adams family yet he releases his dollars of humor with the timing of some military general from a far away serious place. The younger face of this shul "i.e. the children" have been practicing for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and they all delivered stunning performances. I’d Love to drop some names worthy of congratulating yet some families don’t appreciate being mentioned in the synagogue blog so I will respectfully refrain from personally complimenting individuals and give the honor to the whole entire shul. One thing that I thought was interesting is that the rabbi is reform and gives high praise to Orthodox rabbis and seems to have a great respect for the orthodox but did point out also a respect for pluralism. I think it may be the respect for pluralism and love of everyone who is rightous are the reasons this rabbi stays in the reform movement. The rabbi has a tremendous respect for family and tradition and good wholesome values and he made a comment about the state of the world today by calling it “complex” ; furthermore he went on to say that he cannot publish what he really wants to say about the world because it is not publishable. I am here to publish it for the rabbi: “The World is Fucked Up” If I offended anybody for publishing that then I am apoligizing before the New Year and I ask for your forgiveness. Also, do something to make it a better place on my behalf as a mitzvah for all of us because I am a few mitzvahs short this year and desire to start catching up now before Yom Kippur and to acknowledge the receiving of the torah now as I am guilty for not doing so during Shavuot. Synagogue Readers I am back to shul and I am not quitting at 52 shuls. Its on my way to 1000 from here.

 

 

Congregation Kol Tikvah

 

6750 University Dr.

 

Parkland, FL 33076

 

954-346-7878

 

www.KolTikvah.net

 

 

51. Friday April 27th 2007. 9th of Iyyar 24th day of Omer. Friday Night Live Service. Temple Sinai of North Miami Beach and Aventura.

 

Out of the 51 South Florida synagogues previously written about in this blog the experience at Temple Sinai was by in far the single most enjoyable experience I had ever had at a synagogue. I think it was because of the humility, friendliness, and outgoing nature of the shuls congregants. When I arrived I was greeted to join an outdoor wine and cheese reception. The wine was Gato Negro from Chile so that left a little to be desired in terms of robust flavors and quality. The hummus, cheese, crackers, etc were all very good. The congregants were so social it was incredible. I was approached by a Jewban (Cuban Jew) who works for the MS Society, another person who sell advertising for Bellsouth, an elegant lady who wrote her daughters phone number down on the back of a business card and gave it to me, one person I met before at a fraternity event, and a handful of other people. One of the synagogue leaders even took a picture of me and stated she might put it in the newsletter or online. Finally Rabbi Litwak had to break up the little party and tell everyone to go inside as services would be starting in about two minutes. As I wandered inside I remember looking for a good spot to sit down when Mrs. Rosenblum (whom I’d met outsite) shouted out: Jay do you want to sit down with us? So my seat was destined. All of the people I sat near knew each other and I had met one of them before. Mrs. Rosenblum was to my left and Karina from Argentina was to my left, they introduced me to about 7 people in the area where we were sitting. If my memory serves me correctly Rabbi Young started services and I hope my usage of last names does not get me in trouble because Rabbi Young does sound young (yet humble and intelligent) and the last time I used a last name that described a Rabbi’s sense of humor it was with a certain Rabbi Gross and I will not go into detail here but rabbi Gross is actually one of my favorite rabbis. After a brief disertation by Rabbi Young the music started and it was great. The band included a bass guitar player who made me think of one of my best friends “Pedro Valencia” who passed away years ago in a Galapagos scuba diving accident, a main guitar player, an oboeist, a keyboardist, a percussionist, and of course the cantor who reminded me of Don Francisco yet was even better than Don Francisco in many ways. Song after song was great. Traditional songs service songs were incorporated of course, how could you leave out L’cha Dodi, the Amidah, etc. When the main Rabbi, Rabbi Litwak spoke he did so with utmost confidence and a northeastern accent that is very rare, her pronounces things that end in the letters e and r (er) with a strong emphasis (like errrr) and I remember trying to figure out if it came from being around a family member who spoke that way or if it was regional. EVERY other aspect of his speech was absolutely perfect, intelligent and sounded elegant. Rabbi spoke about G-d and about punishment. He spoke about a river, he said: If there is a clean river and we poison the river it is not G-d punishing us for it, its is us punishing us for polluting the river. We have consequences and G-d will not step in the way of the G-dly created free will. I will never forget that. Services went on and many songs were played and when it was time to call the curtains the crowd yelled for more and the band finally played the last song and it was the best one. I don’t remember the name of the song because it was in Hebrew. After services there was an Oneg where I feasted on carrot cake, chocolate brownies, and fruit punch. I chatted with a nice lady from Argentina and was approached by the founder of Mosaic outdoor club: http://www.southfloridamosaic.org

 

There were some things I learned at this synagogue experience:

 

1.) Every synagogue should offer a monthly wine and cheese reception before services.

 

 

2.) If people bombard you with a million questions in 3 minutes its not because they want to report your crimes and faults to the Gestapo, its actually because they are interested in you.

 

 

3.) People really do appreciate honesty.

 

Temple Sinai

 

18801 NE 22nd Ave.

 

No. Miami Beach, FL 33180

 

305-932-9010

 

www.tsnd.org

 

 

 

50. Saturday April 14th 2007. 26th of Nisan 5767. Boca Tov in Boca Raton. Boca Tov is the only place I know that can serve as a shul, a kosher Israeli restaurant, and a Jewish nightclub. I went to Boca Tov because Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz a world renowned international speaker was slated for this date. The Boca Tov location is quite nice, its located on Jog road in a small two story strip mall and coincidence would have it that it is located in the same strip mall as my favorite Sicilian restaurant: Angelo’s Sicilian Kitchen. The speech was titled: “Defining one’s own role” I arrived a few minutes before the event was scheduled and yet it was impossible to find a seat. It was a packed house so I ended up standing up but that is a good thing because man is at his most righteous position when is is standing up. Rabbi’s first statement was about the Jewish normative and how it is possible to become a Jewish groupy and to ignore individuality when in fact the end goal is to become an individual. Rabbi Akiva spoke about two phases of life and did indicated that each phase is just an idea of time measure and so it should not be taken as time accurate. He stated that in the first phase 1-18 years of age humans are in a self exploration process and that the second phase from 18 until retirement is a stage for getting busy with what has been discovered. Rabbi shared a good method for recognizing what has been learned by stating the following: Draw a circle on a white sheet of paper and within this circle write all of your characteristics. Rabbi elaborated on benefits and values of doing this and I know from experience that it is a good visualization process and a better process to live your life by. (I could elaborate for hours on his statements yet we are limited with gigabyte space and time) Akiva Tatz also spoke about the relationship between teacher and pupil. The thing that stuck in my mind was the fact that a good student will walk on the left side of his teacher because the right side is the side of reward, compliment, goodness, etc and the left side is the side of punishment, error, discipline etc. My own personal interpretation of his statement was the fact that in modern day society we too many modern day Jews obey the rabbi (or whomever is involved in their life) and do not question the simple rabbinic authority for the G-dly authority which supercedes it. Many of us can grow beards and wear a black suit and hat yet how many of us are willing to show up in shul with a white linen suit and an Israeli blue arizon colored shirt? Rabbi Akiva is pushing towards individuality yet he also stated that to spread the wings too far can be dangerous. Another thought that I cannot resist commenting on: In the next world you simply come face to face with what could have been in this world. “What do you think G-d will give you candy?” I could write volumes about his teachings but I will not because he has already done so. Good Night and Baruch Hashem!!!

 

Boca Tov

 

21065 Powerline Rd.

 

Boca Raton, FL 33009

 

Tel. 561-470-5888

 

49. Friday April 6th 2007. 18th of Nissan 5767. Emanu El on South Beach aka The South Beach Synagogue.

 

I was actually planning to go to Young Israel in Hollywood but since one of the congregants from Emanu El posted a message on the synagogue blog message board I figured I’d give it a try instead. I walked up to this huge historic shul and tried to turn the metal knob on the big wooden door and to know avail so I went to the second, third and fourth big wooden doors and they were all locked. I was wondering if it was closed this week for some reason or another and thought about leaving but decided to walk around the side of the building just an case and lo and behold people were entering through a small crevice on the side of the building. I entered and sat down and noticed the décor. Its very nice and quaint, decorated with hardwood interior and it makes for a quiet intimate service. The stained glass windows are not really stained glass windows rather replicas made to make the room look as if it had actual windows. After sitting down rabbi told us to open the Siddur to page 260 or 262 which was L’Hadodi. I opened right up to that page. Its always nice to land on the page first flip rather than having to page through several other pages. The congregants seemed to know each other quite well and were sneaking in chatty time between prayers and songs. This is a conservative shul yet seemed reform in some ways in that they had musical instruments such as bongos, acoustic guitar etc. From what I understand its ok to play musical instruments on Shabbat but its just that if they break you are not allowed to fix them. I also heard from somebody that the rabbi wears an earring which to the naked thought it might seem to be a sacrilegious thing to do but the way I look at it is that if he committed the crime of piercing the body several years ago and made atonement for it then its said and done and if the hole is still in the ear why not fill it up with a ring? I don’t think that Jewish law would say it’s a crime to wear an earring yet perhaps to pierce the body. Various times during services the rabbi would ask a question and have the audience raise their hand if it applied and I think I was the only one to raise my hand to every question. One of the questions was: Raise your hand if you believe in miracles. I think only about 4 people including myself raised hands on that one. That really scared me!!! How in hell could someone not believe in miracles? From a blade of grass sprouting out of the ground to giving birth to constructing a casino twice the size of the Hard Rock Casino in Coconut Creek, these are ALL miracles and of course these are your everyday miracles. The rabbi’s everyday miracle was that the service had a great turnout compared to that of two years ago. I was humbly perplexed by this because I would think a large shul on SOBE would be able to pack the house with 500 people but maybe most SOBE people are more into the nightclubs. On the subject of miracles I subscribe to Kfar Chabad Chassidic mysticism emails and they tell mythical and factual stories of miracles that have occurred though out the ages in Brooklyn, Russia, Israel, etc. The interesting thing is that I have had miracles of the same magnitude literally in my life on multiple occasions and the only person shocked and amazed by them is yours truly. Perhaps they sound so far fetched that other people would write them off as simple quackery but the stories did happen, from the IsRoil miracle, to the Minnesota police chase escape, to the Kansas City car breakdown, the Florida mezuzah story, and several others which I will not elaborate on here but G-d willing will put into a book someday. Ending on positive notes; the thought that I walked away from this shul was: “Always be making peace” and they are doing just that by offering congregants and visitors fun events such as: Torah on Tap, Wacky Tuesdays at Catalina Nightclub featuring free Cosmos, Happy Half Hour, Softball Sundays and much more. They offer great programming for all ages. Please visit: www.tesobe.org  

 

 

Temple Emanu El

 

1701 Washington Avenue

 

Miami Beach FL. 33139

 

Telephone: 305 538 2503

Fax: 305 535 3134

 

 

 

 

48. Friday March 9th 2007. 19th of Adar 5767. Temple Beth Am in Jupiter.

 The synagogue is of very warm and conservative type decor; walls of soft yellow, chairs of royal blue, and a huge two story tall torah ark of dark hardwood and frost stained glass.  Its mostly an older crowd but that was to be expected as far north as Jupiter.  The truth of the matter is I recently started a new project which is international in scope and I lost track of time and ended up reviewing this shul two weeks later rather than the following day so I cannot remember every detail but what I do remember was the rabbi and his ongoing commitment to Darfur. This Israeli Rabbi Alon Levkowitz really beilieves that this is another holocaust and that the world just does not care yet we must.  The sad part of the story is that at the Oneg some people were not in support of helping Darfur and even people in my own family seem to think its natures or really G-d's way of controling population.  Rabbi spoke about how the torah teaches that if we see someone attempting to kill another person that we must intervene and kill that person first.  It angers me that people care so much when politics, religion, fraternity, or oil money is involved yet they could care less about the disadvantaged negriod somewhere in the desert.  All in all it was a very good experience and the sponsored Oneg had many of noshable goodies and cheesecake.  To top it off look below at their domain name:  They were able to get the .com for their beth am, (there I was a poet for the night in my own right)

 

Temple Beth Am

2250 So Central Blvd.

Jupiter, FL   33458

561-747-1109

www.templebetham.com 

 

 

Thursday February 15th 2007. 27th of Shvat.  Udipi Vegetarian Restaurant in Sunrise.  This is the Synagoue Blog and although this South Indian vegetarian restaurant is not a synagogue it is worth writing about. Ever since I tried Indian food on last summers trip to Boston (Brookline) Mass I because hooked on Indian food. Udipi is named after a city on the coast in the southern part of India. The reason that this restaurant is deserving of a mitzvah award in the Synagogue Blog is very simple:  They serve water!!!  When was the last time you went to a restaurant and were served water without having to ask for it or pay for it?  Water is an intrinsic inalienable right and must be offered upon command yet should be served willingly and cheerfully. At Udipi when you sit down the waiter comes to the table and fills your glass with good tasting cold ice water and to top this off every table already has a pitcher of ice water. South Indian cuisine is rare and quite different from the typical North Indian fare that we are accustomed to. Many different mysterious pancakes and Chutney sauces etc. The food is great but the water makes this place.  Give em a shot, at $7.50 for all you can eat including water its a great deal. I did not notice a Cholev Yisroil or other hechsher yet it is vegetarian.

 

 

47. Friday February9th 2007. 14th of Shvat 5767. Chabad of NW Coral Springs.

 

A few days earlier I was reading Natural Awakenings Magazine and I noticed a listing in a calendar for a Kabbalistic Sabbath experience with a Rabbi Gelberman who has also been named as a Hindu Swami, it seemed interesting to me so I called to inquire and RSVP on Thursday and on Friday I got a call stating it was canceled (which for some reason I expected) So I went online and searched Chabad.org for a good Daven Port, many of the Chabad shuls only have sunset times etc posted in lieu of the service times but I was finally able to find a good solid shul with davening times. (in English) I knew that this was a small shul based on demographics of the area so I called up and the rabbi actually answered the phone and I asked him if he needed one more congregant to make a minyan. In his honest humility he tried to direct me to other shuls because he did not feel that his would make a minyan. I told him: No, I will go to your shul, and I am glad I did because this little shul needs some publicity and more congregants. Please Go!!! When I arrived the rabbi asked me if I had ever been to a shul that was held in a deli. (this shul was once a deli and some of the remnants remain) Of course that was a first to me. The rabbi was very helpful in terms of pointing out page numbers in English because I told him that I don’t read Hebrew. There were only a few congregants at this shul and they were all very sincere, cordial and family oriented and after all that is what Coral Springs is known for. Rabbi did mention Parshat Yitro yet there was not a speech given about Yitro to the best of my memory but that is fine because Kabalat Shabbat Services are kept short so that the guys can get home and do that certain Friday night mitzvah called: Kosher Love. At the end of services Rabbi Bronstein asked the congregants their opinion on whether to go high or low (hot or cold) with respect to next weeks cholent. I voted low and so did the others. If you live anywhere near Coral Springs Florida please visit this shul even if you are reform, conservative or haredi-Israeli.

 

11640 NW 56TH DR.

 

Ste. 112

 

Coral Springs, FL

 

33076

 

 

 

Saturday February 3rd 2007.  Tu B'Shevat, 15th of Shevat 2007.  I did not go to shul on this date but decided to write anyway. Its my blog so I make and break the rules of what can and cannot be written in the synagogue blog and the fact that its a blog makes it feel permissable to write about practically anything. I am glad that Tu B'Shevat is finally here, this is a very important holiday and it is the real new year.  The New Year of Trees.  Olive trees live for thousands of years so they must have done right by G-d.  When is the last time you planted a tree in Israel?  I have been spending alot of time planting trees in Israel recently becuase I applied for a job as a JNF fundraiser not once but three times and did not even get the courtesy of a turn down letter from an organization of which I am part owners of, so I took matters into my own hands and was fortunate enough to be able to register: Plant a tree in Israel and now I am a fundraiser and I make commision from each tree planted.  Two nights ago I had a dream that I was in Brooklyn, NY and the truth is I have never been to Brooklyn in my life, when I woke up I checked my email and found out that while I was sleeping someone from Brooklyn planted a tree in Israel as a memorial to his Doctor who was also from Brooklyn.  It was quite pleasant to dream about Brooklyn and then wake up and recieve some money from Brooklyn and to know that another tree was planted.  Speaking of money I almost hit the motherlode recently, one of my hobbies is to register domain names and I went to register: mafia.tv and it was available so I went to get my credit card and by the time I returned it had been registered. Vodka.com recently sold for $3,000,0000. and .tv domain names carry a premium so mafia.tv must be worth at least several thousand dollars.  If anyone is interested in the Superbowl (go Chicago) I have a Superbowl website which is the shortest, most accurate, and easiest to read superbowl domain name on the web. Make me an offer.  In other news I just filed my taxes and had an adjusted gross income of just over $7000. so if anyone questions the charitability of my plant a tree in Israel just tell them: "He is a charity case"  We are going to change that though folks, IsRoil Brands is over 200 web pages strong and we are branching out into the magazine business with: Olive Cultivar Magazine.  If anyone would like to join forces with me I am doing an IPO. Contact me for details.  Also, stay tuned next week as I plan to go to shul again, and for you observant Jews I might even visit an orthodox daven-port in a neighborhood near you.

 

J.

 

Friday January 19th 2007. 29th of Tevet 5767. Congregation B’nai Israel of Boca Raton. Its been over a month since I have been in shul, I am probably starting to get rusty but some davening and olive oil will surely cure the squeaky chain of synagogitis. I guess some of the wind was taken out of my sails when I did not accomplish the goal I set for myself of visiting 52 shuls in one year. Now the motivation has to come from within and not as part of reaching a self imposed quota or RYA (recommended yearly allowance) of synagogue touring. This evening the crowd at Congregation was much older than I had ever remembered it being at CBI. I guess on many occasions they have singles services which attract a much younger crowd and this certainly was not one of them. The services this evening were lead by Rabbi Richard Agler who is the founding Rabbi of the synagogue. The focus of the evening was on making a better Jew. A statement was made about making better Jews instead of just making more of them. Personally I think we should do both because it seems to me that immigrants and people in inner city ghettos are procreating much faster than those who are achieving betterment. This service was centered almost exclusively on the shul and its activities, rabbi stated that they have more than enough membership and now it is time to focus on relationships and activities within the shul for example matching congregants up based on clubs and mutual interests. He suggested one idea might be to start a tennis club for those interested in playing tennis and that a small part of each tennis match could be donated to charity. The goal is to get all congregants involved and create many small clubs, groups, and associations of interests and backgrounds. The whole service was shul-centric this evening yet the rabbi has confidence and conviction and I would certainly like to watch him speak more in depth on parsha and other torah related subjects. As for the guitar stroking cantor she had such a meditative spiritual state of appearance that it could make some people jealous, angry or even call her a fake. (one of my friends thinks she is a fake) personally I don’t believe in the concept of fake because even if one is only pretending and forcing a smile then he or she is doing his or her job of bringing about joy and peace which is certainly better than the alternative of a sad or angry downtrodden appearance. Way to go cantor, keep up the lovely meditative stance and positive aura. Its too bad that more people in our religion do not radiate that way as do some Buddhists and other strange, or even pagan religions. Yes my friends you read it here at the synagogue blog; where no shul is safe from critiquing, no other religion is without respite and endless summers of davening, schmoozing, and observing end up published on the universe wide web which was described by one Rabbi as possible evidence of the start of the Messianic Age. Stay tuned for next weeks shul tour. Peace.

 

 

 

Prelude to the end of one years worth of touring synagogues:

 

  Here I sit in my office with Bob Marley on the stereo singing: “No Woman No Cry”, opium scented incense burns in the background as my ancient dual flamed shabbos olive oil lamp burns IsRoil olive oil on the other end of my big desk. It has now been one year since I’ve started touring synagogues and I must say that I surprised myself as to the outcome of this tour. When I started the tour I intended to only visit 52 shuls by attending a different one every Friday night. At that time I had imagined possibly narrowing down my thought process and selecting one branch of Judaism over another and even to take it one step further and to pick the best of the best synagogues. At that time I wondered if I would find a wonderful orthodox synagogue and become more observant or if I would choose a reform or conservative synagogue and become a member. At that time I had even envisioned publishing online awards to my favorite shuls. None of the things that I had envisioned happened and I did not even accomplish my supposed goal of visiting 52 shuls within a year. What amazes me about this whole tour is that I expected one year to be the end and it is only the beginning, and that I expected to develop opinions when in fact I became much more open minded about religion. Once I awoke in a dreamlike state davening like a chassid, once I extended an olive branch of peace to an Arabic Queen which I feel was inspired by hearing a reform rabbi, and once I was inspired to take action for Israel from a conservative leader; action has been taken and trees are being planted. With the joy of the Chassid, the business acumen of the conservative, and the desire for peace of the reform we can and will make this world a much better place but not until more people see the value in the other and in each other… Like Bob Marley is saying on my stereo in this very moment: “Movement of ja people”

 

46. Friday December, 8th 17th of Kislev, 5767. Temple Emanu-El of Palm Beach, Florida. The drive to Palm Beach from Boca was not too bad because the road construction was finally completed and successful. When I first seen the temple I was amazed at the size of it and the fact that they have their own parking garage. This shul is a huge three level congregation decorated in earth tones which were somewhat Palm Beachy yet softened to suit the needs of the elderly northeastern conservative clientele. In terms of size, beauty, and location this shul would fit into my top ten list on all three accords. I sat in seat number 18 on the right side of the shul almost where the width of the rows exceed their maximum. Within a matter of minutes of sitting down a serious, friendly, wise woman (I wish I remembered her name) came to me and introduced herself and invited me to the Oneg Shabbat afterwards. I can not remember her name but I do remember that it was a Hebrew name and that her son lives in Orono, Minnesota and she told me this because I told her that I am from Minnesota. When services started the Hazzan David Feuer looked at the flock of congregants so curiously as if he were trying to size them up for something or another. Going to shul at Temple Emanu El is worth it just to hear this guy sing. He is AMAZING. He has a deep baritone voice that can occasionally catch a silver pitch and you better wear your earplugs if you have sensitive ears because this guy is like the “Jewish Pavarotti“. A Pavarotti in voice but stronger than Pavarotti in leadership. This cantor managed to create an ensemble of musical magic by pointing his finger into the audience. He would point to one person and that person would start singing, and then the next and this continued on and on until about four or 5 people had sung and finally for the grand finale he pointed to a certain are towards the front and a group of 5 congregants started singing. Please go to this shul just to hear this Cantor!!!  This weeks service was dedicated mostly to Pearl Harbor remembrance. Rabbi Sylvan Kamens spoke of WW2 and his experiences with WW2 while living in London. Rabbi invited other WW2 Vets to speak. One veteran stated that he is not Stephen Spielberg nor Oliver North nor a war hero. This particular war hero was awarded the legions award from the government of France which is amongst the highest of the high awards in the military world. The service was very cordial, inviting, friendly and elegant. The board of directors are actively involved and they promote many events. One such event is their tropical New Years party. FFI: 561-653-9920 Mary Lou Gray.

 

Temple Emanu-El

 

190 North County Road

 

Palm Beach, FL 33480

 

561-832-0804

 

 

 

45.  Temple Israel. West Palm Beach, Florida. Friday October 20th 2006. 28th of Tishei, 5767 Lehiyot Shabbat Bereshit. Upon arrival I realized that it looks more like an apartment building complex than a synagogue. It appears that the spaces which were probably apartments or commercial units of some sort were converted and now being used as classrooms for the synagogue’s Hebrew school. At the entryway there was a large regal mosaic lion statue perched by the door appearing both as a protector and as a greeter. The interesting thing about this lion is that he was Palm Beached out in yellow, blue and pink pastel colors. I arrived about five minutes late to shul and waited with a few other latecomers in the entryway until a break in services. Upon entry I sat down and grabbed a prayer book and noticed that not unlike some prayer books in other shuls they were printed with the numbers from lowest to highest in left to right sequence. Their weekly flyer was very lovely. It was made of tan parchment paper and the printing was in olive green, and Hillazon blue. The structure of the shul itself was almost an A-frame design and reminded me of a church in Big Falls, Minnesota that the Olsonn side of my family used to go to for weddings and funerals. Early on services were dominated by cantor Paul Offenkrantz who was a big cheerful fellow with a great voice. The cantor made a strong effort to get the crowd involved. Rabbi Howard Shapiro appeared to me as a very caring and conservative type who would go out of his way to show expression and gratitude for good deed. This was evidence by the Jewish Family Services Village Program for people with needs. He had a gentleman with a certain type of schizophrenia deliver a speech on how the organization has helped him to live a normal life and how he is able to drive a car and live in his own apartment etc. The service was focused on respecting the individuality within each and everyone of us and seeing the G-dliness or rather that part of G-d within each and everyone of us. Another highlight of the evening was having a group of about 7 bar and bat mitzvah aged children give speeches on the topic. Watching the kids speak made think that a Jewish upbringing and synagogue life can really contribute to the formation of well rounded adults with good values if implemented properly. All in all this shul is top notch.  Some of the songs cantered there included a couple of my favs: Shalom Rav, V’Shamru (of course) and a classic Chassidic tune but I forget the name of it. The Oneg had some great cream filled pastries yet my only complaint about this shul was the Oneg Shabbat. It was too loud and I recommend that they put egg pack cushioning material or some other sound dampening material in the room because it is not acoustically comfortable. On the way out of the Oneg I was able to grab another 5767 Calendar, The Florida Jewish Directory, www.FloridaJewishDirectory.com and a shul newsletter by the name of: Koleynu. After services I stopped in to my Palm Beach favorite watering hole, The Leopard Lounge at Hotel Chesterfield on Palm Beach Island. Leopard Lounge was busy but nothing to exciting this time around. Until next week blog readers.

 

Temple Israel

 

1901 North Flagler Drive

 

West Palm Beach, Florida 33407

 

 

 

Saturday Sept 23rd 2006. 1st of Tishri, 5767. ROSH HASHANAH. Happy New Years everybody!!! Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton. This was the Rosh Hashanah Singles Service. I went with a friend and we met two other friends there. It was about the third or fourth time I had attended services at this shul and the first time in about five years I’d attended services on the high holidays. Upon arriving there was ample parking and the security guards were checking identification. One congregant we spoke to asked: Why are they checking id’s? I did not comment but lets just say that Rabbi Bloch made an interesting comment about G-d footing the bill and honoring the warranty on the soul. (does the brain have a warranty) Sorry that was a low blow but I had to say it. When we finally sat down for services we picked the defunct corner of the shul. The right corner chair has screws missing and is a lawsuit waiting to happen as it is about ready to break. (I hope nobody is low enough to sue a shul for that) And my friend Marsha had a prayer book which had been printed in reverse as if it were a typical English book. I joked with her that perhaps it is worth some money as is the famed upside down stamp. The first rabbi to start speaking was a male and I think it was Rabbi Silvers. He told a great joke about an Italian American kid Chicharelli and his mom. Contact the rabbi if you want to hear it. After some joking Rabbi Marci Bloch came on stage and made some good analogies, euphuism’s and jokes but her main quality is her intense ability to focus her voice with the meaning of the words and the ability to do so while speaking clearly and only missing perhaps one beat in 10,000 words. That’s a speaking and focusing ability that only about 1% of the speakers in the world have. She was so intense that when she let up it was as if the parade was over and it needed a grand finale or a big gulp of water. The cantor seemed a little nervous yet humble which is the best of all qualities in my opinion.  When it came time for the male rabbi to blow the shofar his final blow was so long that many of the congregants were watching their watches. I was wondering how many minutes he blew for on that final blow and when he was finished he was not gasping for air. Well rehearsed Rabbi. I want you on my watchtower. After services was an Oneg with Muenster and Cheddar cheeses, bottles of water and cold coke.  I met a very beautiful young girl by the name of Jessica and an interesting fellow who asked if I know of any shuls that offer a continuing Friday night singles Oneg. He stated that the shuls are missing the boat by not offering this service. He is absolutely right. If anyone agrees with us and if you’d like to see this happen and if you have a couple hundred thousand dollars to donate I am willing to start a new synagogue. We can call it: “Sons of Monotheism” or something like that. I will be titled food and beverage director or entertainment director and of course not the rabbi. Maybe if we pay Marci a large enough salary we can steal her way. Call me: 561-350-7567 Jay Shapiro All jokes aside. Lets all enjoy what we have and make this year a year full of good ideas and better deeds. Next year in Israel for me G-d willing.

 

Congregation B’nai Israel

 

2200 Yamato Road

 

Boca Raton, FL 33431

 

561-241-8118

 

www.cbiBoca.org

 

 

 

Friday Sept. 8th 2006. 15th of Elul 5766. Temple Beth Ami Congregation in Boca Raton. If you have not yet noticed this week does not have a number. It could have been number 45 but something happened in history to prevent that from happening. You see, this was the first shul that I reviewed just after the hurricane on November 11th of 2005. As that special time of year is approaching (Rosh Hashanah and Hurricane Season) I came to realize that now is not a time for more numbers. it’s a time to beg forgiveness and try to put things back in order. When I first reviewed Beth Ami I was not too impressed but I thought back and thought about the fact that we were all just out of a hurricane so I decided to return. Truth is it seemed a completely different shul. I walked to shul and arrived a little early and noticed that all of the congregants are completely into making one another feel like part of the group. After touring 44 other shuls I noticed that the cantor has a completely different style than the others I have seen yet his silvery voice can hit a pitch and give a feeling than no other cantor can. Rabbi Gerald Weiss was on his game and he spoke a little about an upcoming documentary that ABC is about to air that claims to expose some theories on what happened on 911 etc. Rabbi stated that it is not a time in history to be partisan and fight dirty. Its time we band together. Services were very complete and went into overtime when Rabbi read a letter that had been written from the Red Cross to Magen David Adom finally welcoming them into the international community. At the Oneg Shabbat I was welcomed over to a table of friendly seniors who were curious about me. One of the friendly men from the Detroit area knew someone I used to know from my hometown Minneapolis who was in the liquor business up there. it’s a small geography and speaking of geography I would like to complete my synagogue tour of 52 shuls in one year but if I don’t its not a bad thing. In a period of reflection I came to realize that no matter how good my ideas may appear to be I cannot predict the future and say with any certainty that any number or any event will happen in the future. All we can do is implement some mitzvah directed action and do so on a consistent basis and hope for a miracle and if its meant to be G-d will implement those numbers. If not we need to be content with what we are granted in the new year. With that being said I’d like to take this moment to apologize to everyone I ever offended or did wrongly in the past year.

 

Temple Beth Ami

 

1401 NW 4th Ave

Boca Raton, FL 33432-1406

Phone: (561) 347-0031

Fax: (561) 393-5326

 

 

 

44. Temple Dor Dorim in Weston. Friday Sept. 1st 2006. 9th of Elul 5766.  I decided to go to this shul in Weston because it was one of the remaining temples I have not yet attended although I found out later that one of my friends works there. As I went out to start the car I found out that it was raining and my front drivers side tire was completely flat. It was a good thing that I allotted an extra 15 minutes to get there because that gave me time to change the tire.  I got all greasy and sweaty yet did not have time to spare so I did a quick hand washing and squirted myself down with a ton of cologne and headed off to shul.  Visibility was terrible and for most of the trip I had to drive about 20 MPH. Finally I arrived about 7 minutes late just after the start of services and I felt slightly embarrassed like a wet dog or perhaps a mechanic who just came to shul after wrenching on the underside of a 57 Chevy. Rabbi Lipson invited me in to take a seat. The Rabbi seemed very sincere and practical. The rabbi spoke about how he is not much for Jewish mysticism yet he adores a statement that all Jews know Hebrew based on the fact that it was something given to us at Mount Sinai and transcends into each generation of Jews. Rabbi also spoke about how as Jews some of us are different, or indifferent, and that many of us come from different values and backgrounds and have done and continue to do many different things yet as a community we are all Jews and that is a powerful thing. The rabbi seems to be a very normal and conservative type yet with a caring and understanding and acceptance of his congregants. The Cantorial Soloist - Allison Teisch did a great job and in fact her voice reminds me so much of my friend in Brookline, especially when she sang Shalom Rav. I could her my friends voice in her and it brought me great comfort. The congregants were of different ages and backgrounds and in fact I got to witness two conversions. One was of a lovely young lady who was about to get married and one was of a Hungarian who’s family was Jewish in the 1930’s and converted out yet he wanted back in so for Gabe (Gabor) it was more of a returning to Judaism than it was a conversion. I am glad they choose this path and frankly if everyone in the world would we would have less to fight about. The shul itself is modern and not overly fancy yet nice enough to fit middle class Weston. The actual services were held in the Children’s education room so it had more of a homey appeal than a traditional synagogue feel. It was a good way to end the week and good to know that my friend who works there works for good people.

 

Temple Dor Dorim

 

2360 Glades Circle

 

Weston, FL 33327

 

954-389-1232

 

www.dordorim.org

 

43. Congregation of Greater Boynton Beach - Rae & Joseph Gann Campus. Friday evening Minyan. 6:30pm. August 25th 2006. 1st of Elul 5766. It was very rainy so I arrived about five minutes tardy. I was going to go to Chabad of Delray Beach based on a referral from someone at work but I called them and services started by 5:15 so I never would have made it on time so I did and internet search for other shuls which I had not yet attended and came up with this one. During the drive on the way up there I remember thinking that because it was raining maybe there would not yet be a Minyan and because I chose to drive up there it would happen. My vision was right on target in fact one friendly man kept thanking me for showing up and how it was such a mitzvah. I don’t think I have met a friendlier man in all my life. The shul itself is very attractive. it’s a large shul with a Mediterranean pillar / terra cotta / Florida limestone appearance to it. It appears that the temple was built fairly recently. I was referred there awhile back by an elderly couple who recommended I meet Rabbi Ciment. He was not there for this particular service but I did get to see a picture of him on the synagogues website; in the picture he was sitting right next to president George Bush in the White House at a Religious Ceremony. Since this was an early Minyan service there was not a torah parsha nor a speech given. The person I met there begged me to come back for Saturday services. He stated that there are housing developments such as Windsong and some others which attract quite a clientele of daveners to this beauty of a daven-port. Services ended slightly early so that those who had driven could speed home before sundown. On the way out that friendly man was walking in the rain and I offered a ride. He stated: “I can’t, its Shabbat. Thank you for coming, you were very important to us tonight” I look back and think to myself that even though I am not feeling a particular closeness to G-d these days it gives me shul going relevance to know that I helped to secure somebody else’s contentment and spiritual sanctity.

 

Chabad Congregation of Boynton Beach

 

10655 El Clair Ranch Road

 

Boynton Beach, FL 33437

 

561-732-4633

 

www.ChabadBoynton.com

 

42. Beth Ahm Israel in Cooper City. Friday Kabbalat Service. August 18th 2006. 24th of Av 5766. I have not been to Cooper City for a couple of years. I actually came very close to purchasing a house there in early 2004. I drive west all they way to the end of Stirling Road past Flamingo Road and I was surprised to encounter 7 and 8 million dollar houses on luxurious estate land. The reason I drove so far is that I passed up the shul on the way out. The new shul sits behind the old shul and is recessed from the highway so it takes a real Mercator to arrive at the Daven-Port safely on the first voyage. Ye old voyage was well worthy of the trip. it’s a very nice modern shul and the congregants are extremely cordial and warm. If my hearing did not fail me the rabbi was out this week and Hazzan Eric Lindenbaum led services. He did so with a guitar and some Carlebach tunes. Hazzan was very interactive with the audience and at one poin the indicated that he was going to be calling out a name and have that person quarterback the responsive reading sessions. Hazzan turned towards me and said: Mr. Shapiro! For a split second I was astounded at his prior knowledge of who I am and the fact that he knew my name. Another split second later a young Mr. Shapiro sitting in front decided to intercept the ball from me and quarterback the responsive reading. Mr. Shapiro was a good quarterback himself and I am glad we are on the same team. The Hassan also called certain people up to the Bimah to read and I am glad he did not call me on that because I do not speak Hebrew apart from: “Ani Ohev Otach and Shemen Zait”.  Speaking of Shemen Zait we are running a promotion through: www.PlantatreeinIsrael.com  Plant 10 trees in Israel and recieve one complementary bottle of IsRoil. Plant 100 trees and we will send you 1 whole case of IsRoil.  If you like good Shemen Zait (Olive Oil) plant 100 trees in Israel now so that you can plant memorial roots before the end of the year and so that you can give those bottles of olive oil as New Years gifts or as forgiveness gifts when you apologize before Yom Kippur. Olive Oil works miracles you know and I think olive oil and trees in Israel are a winning combination.  Until next week, El Presidente de Aceite de Oliva.

 

9730 Stirling Road

 

Cooper City, Florida 33024

 

954-431-5100

 

www.BethAhmIsrael.com

 

 

 

 

Synagogue Number 41. Beth Jacob a.k.a. The Jewish Museum of Florida

 

(Click on the tumbnails for a larger view)

 

 

Bimah Beth Jacob Miami

The Torah Ark Bimah at the Jewish Museum. The Five Steps leading directly up to the ark symbolize the five books of Moses.

Beth Jacob Stain Glass

Notice the Stain Glass Windows and the Half Star of David in the Corner.

Myer Lansky Beth Jacob Miami

Meyer Lansky's Signature on a High Holidays Ticket

Meyer Lansky Signature on a Check

Meyer Lansky Paid His Parking Tickets

Carol Blum Tiara

Miss Florida 1965 - 1966 Carol Lynn Blum

Mrs. Newman the Cuesta Rey Model

Cuesta Rey Cigars

Miss Florida 1965

Miss Florida License Plate

Mari Wilensky Miss Florida 2005

Mari Wilensky - Miss Florida 2005

Mike Eisenstadt Klezmer Band from Tampa, Florida

Mike Eisenstadt Band

Panama Hat Milliner

Joseph Schapler - West Palm Beach Panama Hat Milliner

Ancient Olive Oil Lamp

Ancient Israeli Olive Oil Burning Lamp

Don Francisco a.k.a. Mario Kreutzberger

About Dom Francisco - Mario Kreutzberger

Israeli Currency

First Official Currency of Israel

Olive Oil Jugs

Ancient Israeli Olive Oil Jugs and Artifacts

 

Turkish Coffee Grinder

Tukish Coffee Grinder

Dom Francisco is Jewish

Sabado Gigante - Dom Francisco

 

 

41. Temple Beth Jacob in Miami. “The Gangster Shul” Sunday August 13th 2006. 19th of Av 2006. For you regular synagogue blog readers you might find it odd that I am reviewing a shul on Sunday instead of on Saturday. My plan this week was to go to a Havdalah service because I have never been to one and I thought it would be interesting to watch them burn herb and light interesting braided candles. Because I have toured most synagogues in my area it is getting increasingly difficult to find a shul where I have not yet been. I must have looked at 15 or 20 website and could not find a Havdalah service time posted so my lack of preparation and lack of knowledge left me missing out on the whole Shabbat synagogue experience. I let myself down but I did not want to let my readers down so I decided to go to shul on Sunday and I selected the oldest shul on Miami Beach. Temple Beth Jacob was an orthodox shul from the 1930s that has been transformed into the Jewish Museum of Florida. (Above this blog I posted some thumbnail photos and they will enlarge when you click on them) I have always wanted to visit this shul because I am a Meyer Lansky fan and during my fantasy research of this Jewish Gangster of yesteryear I found out that he davened at Beth Jacob. I arrived at the shul and someone in the parking lot told me that parking was free so I was pleased because SOBE parking can be a real bitch. The cover charge is only $6. And well worth it. This was the first time I paid to go to shul but certainly not the last. At the bimah where a torah would typically be stored they have a large screen tv that gives the story of Jews in Florida. It seems that many people I have admired from many years turned out to be Jewish and I did not know it until the tour of this museum / shul. I was really surprised to find out that Don Francisco is Jewish. I learned my Spanish by watching his tv show Sabado Gigante on Univision. As former owner of a cigar shop and Peruvian imports store I was surprised to learn that the Cuesta Rey brand is Jewish and if you look on the cigar box Mrs. Cuesta (Mrs Newman) is wearing a Mogen David pendant on her necklace. The Cuesta Rey brand apparently was a Tampa cigar company owned by the Newman family. For a moment it made me think because back in the mid 1990s when I was still living in Minnesota I bought some of my cigars from Segal Wholesale in Minneapolis and while there I remember being introduced to a certain Mr. Newman I think it was Jim Newman. Could it have been Mr. Cuesta Rey? One never knows; it’s a small world out they my friends. I am going to send the museum a bottle of IsRoil and hope they put it on display. I could write volumes about this museum / shul but I’d really be doing them a disservice because if you are Jewish you owe it to yourself to go. It will make you very proud to be Jewish. Tell em “The Olive Oil King” sent ya.

Jewish Museum

 

301 Washington Ave.

 

Miami Beach (South Beach)

 

Florida 33139

 

305-672-5044

 

www.JewishMuseum.com

 

 

 

40. Saturday Morning 9:00am August 5th 2006. 11th of Av 5766. Temple Beth Tikvah in Greenacres. (Greenacres is the place to be) This was 40th shul I had visited in about the last 8 months yet is was the first time in the shul tour that I actually went to shul on a Saturday morning instead of on a Friday night. In fact I have not been to shul on Saturday in over two years. The truth of the matter is that I typically went out on Friday nights hunting for a wife and I would be too tired the next morning to make it to shul. I must say there is a huge difference between Kaballat Shabbat services and the Saturday morning services. First of all the Saturday morning services last 200 minutes and the Friday night services last anywhere from 60 to 72 minutes. it’s a huge difference in commitment and in practice. It was the folks at Temple Beth Kodesh who were egging me on to try a Saturday service and they were right about the differences. I never would have dreamt that it would have been such a change. In fact not only was the Saturday experience new to me it was also the first time I had ever put on a tallis. Every man in the shul (about 75 of them) had been donning a tallis and one of them walked up to me and handed me one. I did not know what to do with it so I just put it over my shoulders and around my neck as if it were a cold winters day in Minnesota. I sat in the middle right hand aisle fairly close to the front of the davening port in seat F2. The shul itself is gigantic and the torah ark is decorated with a golden olive tree of life whose leaves are trying so hard to say something in Hebrew. It would only take a little tweak here and a little imagination there and that tree would give us our answer. The first whole hour was dominated by an elderly cantor with a powerful stern cracking voice. For the first hour I did not like the rabbi simply because he did not say much and he just looked over the congregation like an eagle. When rabbi Shub finally started speaking I instantly liked him and could tell he was a good guy and a good rabbi. For a moment I was wondering if he was from my home state of Minnesota but after hearing his accent for awhile it donned on me that he is more than likely from Montreal. One of the highlights of the service was a husband and wife who had just returned from Israel on Thursday. They spoke about their experiences. The husband who was a retired lawyer spoke fondly about the culture and people of Israel, about how four out of five men wear yarmulkes, about Friday night at the kotel there must be five thousands people and different style Minyans all over the place. He spoke fondly of and respected the dedication of the men who wore Shtreimels and the women who wore Sheitels and were walking with a stroller and five kids and a sixth one in the belly. The undertone was that in Israel the people believe and they live life. He also spoke about the Jewish food there: Chinese Jewish, Italian Jewish, French Jewish etc and of the olives and how at the stores you could purchase olives of all different sizes shapes and colors, brown ones, green ones etc. He said that they are thinking of making Aliyah so they looked at an apartment when they were there. He stated that the apartments in Israel are simply four walls with no stove, no fridge nor furniture. The main feature of the apartments is that they come with a safe room. it’s a reinforced room designed for war and catastrophe. He stated that the people do not live in fear in Israel. They stand up for their land and will never back down. Finally the rabbi had to cut short his speech to give his wife time to speak. (he could have went on for days) His wife spoke and she spoke about the people she met while there. They spoke about how everyone in the world hates the Jews. She met a girl from France who stated she grew up in France and had many Muslim friends as a child but as she turned into an adult she became the victim of their attitude towards Jews. She met a 22 year old lady from Morocco who stated that the king of Morocco is good to the Jews and that her family does well there in Morocco but that there is more educational opportunities in Israel. The list goes on and on and eventually she started crying. It was a great service and at the Kiddush they had pickled herring which is one of my favorites. Until next week and if any of you readers out there in Internetville have any stories or ideas you’d like me to publish just let me know. I started some new websites recently, one of them:

 

www.IsraeliNews.TV

 

4550 Jog Rd., Greenacres, FL 33467

 

561-967-3600

 

Templebt@bellsouth.net

 

www.templebethtikvah.net

 

The Synagogue Blog, Need a south Florida Rabbi?  Wedding Rabbi, Synagogue Experience, List of South Florida Synagogues, Hire a rabbi, synagogue search, find, best temples, Jewish Wedding Caterers, Kosher Facilities FL

 

39. Temple Beth Kodesh of Boynton Beach. Friday July 28th 2006. 3rd of Av 5766. Driving to shul I was wondering if the neighborhood was safe because it was a non-gentrified area and down one side road were about five police cars lined up in a row with their flashers on. Needless to say I did not opt to go down that street. When I finally arrived at the shul it was shockingly nice. The back wall of the shul is decorated with shiny mosaic glass depictions of Israel and Jewish events. The glass on those mosaics made me think of gems. Many small gems such as emeralds, rubies, sapphires etc and maybe even those little puree marbles that we played with as children. Apart from being an elegant yet comfortable edifice the shuls importance lies in the friendly and sincere nature of its congregants, the sense of humor and sincerity of its rabbi and rebbitzin and follow up for action displayed by the administrative staff. I actually got to meet the famed Joe Sherman who told me that he used to tour different synagogues all over the country in his motor home. Services were light and the congregants knew the routine well. All of the congregants made it a point to shake the hands that shook the world and they were all very cordial to one another and everyone in the room. When rabbi Michael Simon requested those observing Yahrtzeit to stand nobody in the room stood up. Out of 20 or 25 people present in the room apparently nobody was observing Yahrtzeit. It was the first time I had ever seen that happen in a shul and I guess it’s a good thing. L’ha Dodi was performed slightly different this week based on an observed requirement for the Av timetables. The crowd was a little off tune and the rabbi made light of it by making humor; he stated: “Good thing we only have to do that once per year” At the Oneg the shul president invited me for High Holidays and the Rebbitzin and rabbi shared some friendly chat. If you live near Boynton it is worth the drive from West Boynton to give this shul a try and although the neighborhood is no longer a thriving Jewish neighborhood I still think it is safe and that the angels will protect you on the way to shul. They are having a BBQ and Hoedown on Sunday, August 6th at 4pm. $10. Members and $12. Non members. Hot Dogs, Hamburglurs, and Vegemite Sandwiches.

 

Call them at: 561-581-6159

 

Temple Beth Kodesh

 

501 N.E. 26th Ave

 

Boynton Beach, FL 33435

 

38. "A Weekend in Boston" Friday July 21st 2006. 25th of Tamuz 5766. TBZ - Temple Beth Zion in Boston, (Brookline) Mass. I flew up to Boston to meet someone I met online years ago because we recently started talking on the phone again and decided that it was time to meet in person. The flight from West Palm Beach to Boston was a nice one. I got to see the Washington Monument and the White House for the first time in my life. As we approached Boston I got to see my first ever ocean encapsulated lighthouse. I think it was quite fitting that the first thing I saw in Boston was a lighthouse because they are considered to be part of the folkloric landscape in the area. The second thing I saw in Boston was not a thing at all it was a person, she was a very beautiful and smiling brunette sweetheart. We meet at the airport and had instant chemistry.  We both rode the subway from the airport to her place in Brookline. It was the first time I had ever riden on a subway before so I was asking her all sorts of strange questions about how they operate etc. After arriving at her place in Brookline near Coolidge Corner we changed clothes and walked down the street to a vietnamese restaurant by the name of Pho Lemongrass. We had vegetarian spring rolls, lemongrass rice chicken specials and coconut milk to drink.  After our meal we walked back home and it started to rain and we did not have any umbrellas so we did our best to bop from store awning to awning but that strategy did not work because the rain came down quite hard.  We finally had made it home and I was drenched so I had to rip my shirt off and change. It was at that moment I wanted to to kiss her.  After changing into warm clothing we both grabbed a couple of umbrellas and headed off to shul. The shul was a large brick building that has been around for quite a few decades and was in very good shape. The interior was decorated with planted ferns on the left and right sides and the back torah wall was decorated with large tapestry quilts depicting events in Jewish history. Services were very cantorial and spiritual although the cantor who was present was the Rabbi who seems to serve as Rabbi and Cantor. This synagogue cannot be listed nor described by nomenclature as they do not belong to any of the religious political parties i.e. URJ, USCJ, OU, AISH, CHABAD etc. They are simply an egalatarian synagogue where anyone is welcome.  If I had to try and list them within a nomenclature they would be somewhere between Reform and Reconstructionist yet with some Chabad influences. Many of the congregants appeared to be baby boomers and they were very shook up over the war in Israel. The rabbi mentioned that now would not be an effective or proper time to simply call a ceasefire in Israel and this did not go over very well with many of the congregants.  The rabbi was very correct in what he stated and in fact he totally reminded me of Tevya in the movie - "Fiddler on the Roof" His actions, accent, body language, and common sensabilities are all comparable to Tevya. All in all it was a very nice shul with a great rabbi but a difficult day in Israeli history.  After services ended we walked back home and eventually ordered a pizza and called it a night. Saturday we walked all around downtown Boston. I got to see: Faniuel Hall and the many street performers and actors, Little Italy in the North End along with the Italian outdoor Fruit Market, The Wharf, The seals at the waterfront museum, Legal Seafoods, and who would have thought that I would have flown from Florida to Boston only to see outdoor palm trees planted in the Boston Gardens?  Saturday was alot of fun, we must have walked about five or 6 miles. Saturday night we went to the Rani Indian restaurant and I got to sample many vegetarian dishes with homeade cheeses, mint Chutney, and about a thousand and one other spices and ingredients. It was my first time in an Indian restaurant and I really enjoyed it. Sunday morning we had a brunch buffett at a place called the India Gourmet. The food was similar to Rani yet it was a fast food version.  One thing I really enjoyed there was the coconut chutney sauce.  After lunch on Sunday it was time to go to the airport and say our goodbyes.  I have her a nice long hug and hated to let her go but hopefully we will see each other again G-d willing. All in all this shabbat weekend was a weekend of many firsts for me and I can only hope next weekend is half as good. Until next week.

 

Temple Beth Zion

1566 Beacon Street

Brookline, Massachusetts 02446

 

617.566.8171

 

www.tbzbrookline.org

 

Boston Synagogues, Synagogue Blog, Synagogue Reviews in Boston, Jewish Wedding, Hire a Boston Rabbi, search for rabbis in Boston or Brookline, Massachusetts Jewish community, Jewish review, temples in Boston, zion

 

37. Friday July14th 2006. 18th of Tamuz 5766. Temple Judea in Palm Beach Gardens. I only intended to make it for the Oneg Shabbat because I did my actually Kabbalat Shabbat review below at Temple Beth David down the street and just could not resist the temptation to stop in and I needed it for a number on the shul blog as last week I did not make it. When I first noticed this shul it looked more like a Shel Adelson Casino than a shul. There was even a large silver grey colored limo parked there. Out front was a stone statue of a laying powerful regal lion and the shul itself could be a small scale version of the Venetian. Upon entering I noticed a handful of people standing in the foyer and I asked them what was going on and one lady told me that the editor of the Palm Beach Post was there and that she found him too liberal too listen to. ( considering that this was a reform shul I considered it to be  odd as most reformies are liberal) I went inside and listened to Randy Schultz’s speech and he spoke about Lebanon, Syria, and the fact that the Bush administration made a big mistake by going into Iraq. I was not there long enough to pick up on any real sentiment nor to devise and opinion. I did make it to the Oneg Shabbat though and it was great. Strawberry cream cake, Coke with ice, cookies, Yummy Yummie Yum Yum. For my shul blog followers scroll down to number 36 and if you are able to certainly make it a point to join them for a Minyan either this Sunday or soon as they have some great ideas to support Israel through prayer and other forms of action.

 

Temple Judea

 

4311 Hood Rd.

 

Palm Beach Gardens FL 33410

 

561-624-4633

 

Palm Beach Synagogue Finder, Find a Rabbi for weddings, baby namings, conversions, west palm beach shuls

 

36. Friday July14th 2006. 18th of Tamuz 5766. Temple Beth David in Palm Beach Gardens. Since my travels brought me all the way from Boca I had anticipated a drive time of about an hour but to my surprise interstate 95 was running smoothly and in fact much of the roadwork between Boca and West Palm Beach has been accomplished. Services were slated to commence at 7:30 and fortunately I was in the area at about 7:10 so I decided to drive further west along Hood Rd out of curiosity. My drive west was very pleasant. This part of south Florida consists of giant pine trees and rolling hills. I eventually encountered the Old Marsh golf course which appeared as if it were on the edge of the everglades and the woods and it had the greenest grass I have ever seen. I drove back towards the shul and passed it up and I happened to notice another shul in the area and thought to myself that if services end at Beth David in time maybe I can catch the Oneg at the other shul. So I arrived at Temple Beth David and initially there were only about a dozen people present and they were all seated very close to the entrance of the building so I made it a point to sit a little further inward. Rabbi singer came up and shook my hand and he asked me: What was your name again? It was as if we had met somewhere before. His name has been published in my website in the synagogue finder so maybe that was it but it does seem as if we had meet before. When services finally started rabbi mentioned that in the congregation people tend to sit in the corner and he suggested the idea of moving up front and to the center. After his suggestion I stood up and blurted out: “Come on Everybody” and I moved up front and a few people followed suit but not as many as I would have liked. The services were pleasant and the synagogue has almost perfect acoustics with a Bose sound system so it was very easy to understand and follow along with what was being presented. Rabbi singer is a young rabbi and I never thought that I would be very impressed with the abilities of a young rabbi but rabbi Singer seems to have this in his blood, voice, and soul. The rabbi is from Pittsburg, PA and he speaks clear understandable English and in fact has a good command of the English language. I have critiqued over 35 synagogues and at those other synagogues the rabbis made mistakes in the areas of grammar, knowledge, respect, body language, etc. The ONLY mistake that I noticed was the fact that when he called the children up the Bimah and recalled some of the recent history of the families he stated that one of the girls just got back from Boston when in fact she corrected him by stating something to the effect of: “No, I am going to Boston next week” The ironic part of this rabbis mistake is the fact that I am going to Boston next week!!! In fact the Friday July 21st Synagogue Blog will be held in Brookline Mass. (We will speak more about that next week) The rabbi also spoke about Israel and the need for prayer and ACTION. The rabbi is taking action by purchasing Israeli Flag lapel pins to put up for donation to support Israel.  While I was there I noticed several things which pertain to my olive oil business. While reading one of the prayers ( I think it was V’Shamru ) I noticed a statement about G-d: “Regal and Anointed at the earliest of times” The word Regal means Royal and the word anointed means anointed in olive oil. When I see this in the torah and or in prayer books it makes me wonder if being founder and laborer of IsRoil Olive Oil is really a business or if it has a more significant meaning. To top this off the Cantor was wearing a tallis that was decorated with two crowns and sprouting up and out of each of the crowns were olive branches. It again reminded me of my business. IsRoil: It is Royal because it if Our Oil. I normally do not mix business with the synagogue blog but NOW IS THE TIME!!! Israel needs help, so buy Israeli and donate to the Libii fund: www.Libi-Fund.org  Together we can change this world and make peace and victory. I have never been so passionate about Israel and I know you feel the same sentiment because it is too real not to feel. This was a great service and I was very impressed with the passion of Rabbi Singer.

 

Temple Beth David

 

4657 Hood Rd.

 

Palm Beach Gardens

 

35. Friday June 30th 2006. 20th of Sivan, 5766. Temple Solel. (The air conditioned shul) If you scroll down to shul tour number 34 and 33 you will realized that this was the 3rd shul that I visited on June 30th. I arrived late as I had only 15 minutes to make it from Aventura Chabad to Hollywood. When I walked into the shul I instantly felt at peace. If you are an avid reader of my shul blog you might find that statement strange because historically I felt slightly out of place in many reform synagogues. The cold air conditioning was a good help. To go from 87 degrees down to 67; who would not feel comfortable? Lol. This weeks torah portion “Korach” dealt with arguing or handling disagreement. The rabbi made a very profound statement that in my personal opinion applies to most situations yet is not effective in some. “He stated that to have an argument or a fight two must engage” The answer to this is simple. Don’t engage in battle. If every civilization did not engage in battle we would be on the right track and maybe that track would be the center vein of the Menorah.   The  shul's interior is wooden colored hardwood with pitch black background and backdrop. It all looks conservative and very nice. The architectural or rather artistic part of the shul that I think they pride themselves on is their stained glass windows. If you go to the synagogues homepage you will be able to see some of the many stained glass windows. The windows portrayed important and or notorious events which have occurred throughout our history. There were 10 windows in all yet only one of them stood out. Sadly enough the Holocaust window stood out because it contained the numbers: 777 directly across the middle of the window. Upon further examination it was actually black duct tape patching a cracked window in three different areas and each area oddly enough looked like a perfect 7. By the time I got out of the shul I was freezing.  67 degree air conditioning. WOW.  The air conditioned shul in south Florida. G-d Bless my weekly readers and since this week I visited three shuls scroll down and read the other two reviews.

 

TEMPLE SOLEL

5100 Sheridan Street

Hollywood, FL 33021

Office: (954) 989-0205

Fax: (954) 989-5787

 

5100 Sheridan StreetHollywood, FL 33021Office: (954) 989-0205Fax: (954) 989-5787

www.TempleSolel.com

 

Hollywood Synagogues, Temples in Hollywood Florida, Hollywood Rabbis for weddings and events, kosher hollywood

 

34. Friday June 30th 2006. 20th of Sivan, 5766. Chabad of Aventura. I arrived at Shul by recommendation from the cantor at the Turnberry Jewish Center. This shul is beautiful. In fact I have been to about 7 Chabad Shuls before and this one was unlike all of the others. It was like a mansion of elegance. In the parking lot were fancy German cars and on the wrists were fancy Swiss watches and on the bodies were tailored Italian suits and the shul itself was magnificent compared to the other Chabad Shuls.To see a picture go to: http://www.chabadfl.org Services were not unlike most Chabad services. The rabbi was a very straightforward speak your mind type of rabbi. Rabbi engaged the audience with conversation about the world soccer cup and he mentioned that when an Iranian scored a goal he bowed down to his God in front of millions of people and the rabbi asked us why we as Jews do not publicly display our Jewish pride to the other nations. The rabbi was right!!! Its the “scared as a cat on a tin roof” mentality that will keep our people on a tin roof for centuries. Grow some Chutzpah and in times of fear remember that G-d is with you otherwise all your fighting for is a tin roof and not the solid foundation that we build and form as Jews. The rabbi also spoke about a time when he was doing a service in an Asian country and he needed to get back home so he took a flight on Lufthansa which happened to have a layover in Germany. While at the airport in German the rabbi was in Chassidic attire with the big beard, tzit tzit, etc. The rabbi said that the layover was a long one of about four hours and that everywhere he went the local Germans stared and gave him strange looks. Finally on the other side of the airport coming near him was a man with a big black hat, a big white beard, a black suit etc. Rabbi was sooo elated he felt as though Moses came there to comfort him in a strange land. He went up to him and his heart sunk when he found out that the man was Amish. He stated that the Amish man was very kind and decent and looked Jewish from a distance yet he was not Jewish. The highlight of the whole evening was when the rabbi spoke about books. Rabbi said that Jewish books serve multiple purposes. First they give the home a special feel. I know firsthand what he is speaking of and I know that any observant or truly pondering Jew knows the warmth that Jewish books on a bookshelf bring into the home. It makes me realize that I only have about five Jewish book and I should obtain more but my redeeming quality is the fact that I read the only real Jewish book even when the others site idle on the shelves projecting there warmth into my very humble abode. Last but not least the Rabbi spoke about culture and how many of the young Jewish children wear there baseball caps at a 45 degree angle because they seen some black rapper doing it on TV. The rabbi said: “This is a very beautiful think that do as they learned it from someone” then he went on and exclaimed that learning that is beautiful while wearing the pants down below the lower area where a belt barely prevents if from falling off is a different story and of course nowadays there are MANY things we are copying from modern culture that are not right but our people are adopting them. I hope this rabbi someday reads this blog and contacts me because I love his way of thinking and I would surely support most any cause that he does. All in all it’s a fancy Chabad Shul with a level headed Rabbi.

 

Aventura Chabad

 

21001 Biscayne Blvd.

 

Aventura, FL 33180

 

Telephone 305 933 0770

 

Aventura Jewish community, Aventura Synagogues, Rabbis in Aventura Florida, Locations for weddings, bar mitzvahs

 

33. Friday June 30th 2006. 20th of Sivan, 5766. Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center. I finally got my car out of the shop and if you look at the dates on the synagogue blog you will notice that I was not in shul last week. (I spent six hours on the internet trying to find a shul within walking distance of The Florida Tri-Rail but to no avail) So I felt bad about missing shul and on June 30th I did what I could do to make up for it. I attended one reform, one conservative, and one orthodox shul all in the same evening. What I just said reminds me of a George Thorogood song: “One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer” But instead my song is by yours truly and my synagogue star Hebrew stage name is now: “Jay Thoroughly Good Shul Attender Shapiro Ben Dvora” and weird Al Yankovic helped me come up with the name of my song: “One Reform, One Conservative, and One Orthodox” ( Lyrics = I ain’t seen my baby since I don’t know when, I gotta get to shul man I gotta daven.) My producer is Weird Al and my manager is Matisyahu. To get backstage passes to my first concert just show up. (I think we can all fit backstage) Enough of the goofy stuff and on to shul reviewing. The Turnberry Center is AMAZING. This place has been around since the mid 1980’s and started in a storefront but in 1987 they acquired some land and by 1990 they had completed the shul. I am guessing that in 1990 with the low cost of Florida real estate back that it probably cost them between 3-7 million dollars to complete the project but looking at the building and its magnificence I can easily say that it would probably run over 50 million dollars to construct taking into consideration the inflation index and rising real estate costs in south Florida. I do not know how to possibly describe this edifice apart from saying that the building is mostly cylindrical with a slight dome top or rounded top. The interior is stunning. HARDWOOD, HARDWOOD, HARDWOOD, everywhere. Overstated elegance in a huge building that must put the locals in a weekly state of awe. The shul and all of its prominence attracts big name attendees such as: Bill Clinton, Benjamin Netanyahu, Joe Lieberman, Minnesota’s Norm Coleman, Rudy Giuliani, Shimon Peres etc. (the list if too long) I did attend this shul on Friday June 30th but I was a little late and it was a childrens service so I did not participate although I did have the opportunity to meet the cantor and he told me that in the summertime the orthodox shuls start late so he sent me to Chabad of Aventura where I davened. Someday when I do have my own family I would like to return to that family service with them but for now I know that family means children and Kabbalat Shabbat means adult services. Lol.

 

Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center Synagogue

 

20400 NE 30th Ave.

 

Aventura, FL 33180

 

Tel. 305-935-0666

 

Fax. 305-931-2233

 

http://www.atjc.org/index.html

 

32. Friday June 16th 2006. 20th of Sivan, 5766. Temple Israel of Miami. Services started at 7pm. Services started with and were run by cantorial soloist Karina Zilberman originally from Argentina. Services started with a soft: Lai, Lai, Lai on and on. The initial experience was enhanced by bongos. This whole initial set took 13 minutes. Karina then spoke about musical and mystical symbols. The MenorAH. “7 lights that we light, we create our own MenorAH. The center path of the menorah representing the center of a week.  L’hadodi was done with Congas and it was very intense. People were shouting: Yahoo, (and NO I am not trying to get brownie points with Yahoo search engine).  Dr. Alan Mason made some announcements: 8:30 Oneg, Friday 23rd Shabbat Dinner etc. Alan spoke of a rabbi who said: “I pray so that I might be able to pray” (reminded me of myself and my synagogue blog) Dr. Alan made some profound statements and one that I admired was: “Stone and Ice are spiritual non-conductors” I thought that statement was great and in fact I relayed it to my mother and she stated that a stone might hold molecules with a great spiritual potential. Personally I do not agree with her statement yet I agree with her as my mother and a mother who seems to see good things in the most mundane objects. Next topic was the song: Shalom Alechem. The cool part was that it was explanatory. Zilberman explained that it was about a man returning from services who encountered 2 angels. One angel was a good angel and one bad. The good one told him that if he returns next week and goes home his household will be in order: Clean, Wife ready to love, etc etc. The bad angel told him that if he returns next week that everything will be out of order. Basically the opposite of the good angel. Let the good angels be with you. Peace be with you also. Hate evil and love what is good. Do not oppress your neighbor nor rob him. So now it comes back to cantor!!! Barbara Streisand would feel very comfortable at this shul. Zilberman does her best and in fact achieves her goal in creating a Streisand/Zilberman environment. V’Shamru started and was done with congas in the background. After V’Shamru Dr. Alan Mason spoke again and he spoke about the way that we rejoice as Jews. We rejoice when the son sets and rises, when friends get together, when children of all races play together, when the beauty of the earth touches the soul. Again: Barbara Streisand would love it here and it fact it makes me think of my Dad because Fathers day is NOW is he is a big fan of Barbara Streisand. Mr. Mason went on to speak about how Jews are healers. Jews have the power to heal the lonely, the sick, the poor, the tortured,etc. After the Alenu Bob came up on stage and spoke about Darfur. He spoke about the genocide occurring there. It makes sense, if we or some of our relatives went through a holocaust why would we not try to prevent this from happening to another group of decent people? Sins of Silence? Dare you be apathetic!!! www.SaveDarfur.org

 

Miami Synagogues List, Miami Kosher Event Catering, Shapiro's shul review, wedding services, olive oil

 

31. Friday June 9th 2006. 13th of Sivan, 5766. Chabad of East Boca Raton. I arrived about two minutes early thinking that I might have been late ( a certain Mr. Silverman told me that if you are late at an Orthodox Shul they will lock you out) To my surprise there was not a soul present. The building was nice, it was a burgundy or burnt red Spanish style building with a courtyard reminiscent of an ancient castle. I walked back to my car and came back a few minutes later and still not a soul present. So I walked back to my car again and got in the car and tried to start it and it would not start. I have a 2000 Mercedes and I think maybe the ignition relay switch or the starter hairs or the maybe the computer that controls the fuel pump needs reprogramming because I did run low on gas recently; whatever the case may be my car needs attention as do I. After I tried to turn her over 20 times I decided to give it a break and walk around the neighborhood to let the car cool off.  I returned about a half hour later to the car which was parked on 1st Ave and it  started right up. Baruch Hashem (G-d Bless). An hour later I drove back down the same street and noticed that there were people inside the shul davening. I guess I was meant to go to shul but not to daven.  So I passed the synagogue knowing that I did not do what I achieved yet I did go to a shul and so I can at least write my blog. If Hashem (G-d) tells me that this does not count I will double up and start going to shul on Saturday mornings as well. I do not think that I skipped a synagogue this Friday, in fact I know I did not. Part of my publishing process involves visiting the OU and CHABAD.org so that I can obtain the Hebrew date. I did this and while on OU.org I noticed a VERY interesting article about the famed: David McLees. This music industry veteran David McLees is responsible for hundreds of great records from artists such as Emerson Lake and Palmer, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Chicago and Fleetwood Mac. Now he's founded The Jewish Music Group, a new record label which is changing the face of Jewish music. His JMG or Jewish Music Group is more than an up an coming thing. The strange Shabbat service included things I do not normally receive on Shabbos. Mr. McLees is a sincere convert and possibly an actual Jew by Hashem. Now I will not go as far as to say that he is Jewish because only g-d can make a Jew and in fact I would call M-ses until Hashem spoke to me directly. BUT, setting the bullshit aside I would venture to say that He is a Jew. To listen to him speak go to: http://ouradio.org David McLees spoke of many subjects and of many peole. An interview on radio forced him to divulge screeners for demos: Stewy Wax, Deene Schateler, and of course people who made it all happen such as Ron Aniello. The Moshav Band was spoken about frequently along with Malchim and of course Matisyahu was mentioned over and over during the interview. David did mention his 3 favs on the web: www.ou.org , www.artscroll.org, and ouradio.org. The record label is JMG, Jewish Music Group annd even though they may not support me I am going to insure their success.

 

The Boca Raton Jewish Resource list, Synagogues in Boca Raton, Wedding Catering, Banquet rooms

 

30. Friday June 2nd 2006. 6th of Sivan, 5766. Chabad - Jeff Weltman Synagogue of West Boca Raton, Florida. WOW!. this is my 30th synagogue already. I look back and remember the anticipation of attending services at the previous 29 shuls and I can honestly say that this was one of about two or three times when I was really not looking forward to attending. At the end of the week I was stressed out because I totally blew a chance at possibly having a relationship with the sexiest brown eyed lady I have ever met. So I screwed it up again and suffered and thought about skipping shul but I did not because I figured: “Hey, 30 shuls in baby there’s no turnin back!!!” and I am very glad I did not turn back because about 15 or 20 minutes into the services all of the stress was gone. As for stress relief, I’d recommend shul bopping to anyone, its better than Yoga and almost as good as sex. (not near as good as kosher sex) The shul itself was fairly down to earth yet the main wall was made of stone and the color scheme made me think of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Listening to the rabbi was really enjoyable. I think part of the reason it was so enjoyable to listen to him was his accent. I am from Minnesota and so to hear someone who is probably from Brooklyn is really quite novel for me. The rabbi pronounces the word torah something like: “Toyta” or Toyda” I loved listening to him and I am not joking to be condescending its all just very novel and fresh. This weeks torah (toyda) portion was about Shavuos. Rabbi Bukiet spoke of the Angels being jealous of Moshe and about the torah being in heaven for two thousand years before coming to earth and also the fact that Shavous actually means the counting of weeks. 49th or 50th day after Pesach, celebrated two days in America etc. Some dialogue was created with the audience and the reb. Rabbi asked why Shavuos is celebrated two days in America and I felt like a boychik when I responded that it could have something to do with the differences in time zones between the good ole US of A and Eretz Yisrael. The cantorial audience was just right for an observant synagogue, not underdone nor overdone like a maniac expression of wild roosters running around making funny noises. It was all very familiar and in fact it’s a place where everyone and anyone should and will feel comfortable. The congregants ranged in age from about three to about 93. One young man was wearing a 1970’s leisure suit and I don’t think he was aware that it is back in style. (nor do I think he was aware that it went out of style) Part of what I like about going to observant shuls is the fact that they generally do not criticize based on modern styles and trends rather they choose to respect those who are working or rather enjoying to create, perform, and receive good deeds. Happy Shavuos my weekly readers and please pray for me to find my besherta, my parnasa, and to to be blessed with length of years with health and happiness. This reminds me: my dues with the Tehillim Hotline are way overdue. http://www.tehilimhotline.org/

 

9040 Kimberly Blvd

 

Boca Raton, FL 33434

 

Tel (561) 487-2934 FAX (561) 883-5300

 

29. Friday May 26th, 2006. 28th of Iyyar, 5766. Temple Anshei Shalom in Delray Beach. They call themselves “The Friendly Conservative Synagogue”. The shul is located on West Atlantic Ave and is certainly a seniors shul. This was not the first time I was the youngest person present but it seems to be commonplace in Delray Beach. What I really loved about this shul was the fact that the Shabbat candles were actually just two bottles of olive oil with a wick inserted into each one and they burned perfectly. I find it so amazing that olive oil is a part of our religion more than all of the other religions yet our people are not even aware of that fact. The first synagogue in the history of mankind was simply a pile of rocks with olive oil poured over it and that area then being pronounced: “Betel” I could go on an on about olive oil and Israel and how she pertains to our heritage but it was nice to finally see a shul incorporating it. If you are a temple administrator please take olive oil very seriously and considering incorporating it into your shuls regimen i.e. gift shop, candles, etc (and not only on Chanukah).  Rabbi Bernard Stefansky was not present this week so they had a substitute rabbi by the name of Rabbi Tobias Rothenberg. The rabbi had a heavy Canadian or slight Scottish accent or some other accent that I could not place. He sounded like a cartoon narrator for Elmer Fudd or Winnie the Pooh, I know I have heard a similar voice somewhere on tv before. The cantor put his soul into his job and hit some very high notes. The shul itself has one of the largest torah arks I have ever seen and it was decorated in brass trim. This week they spoke about Yom Yerushalayim. A couple was called to the bimah and told a story about the history of Israel from thousands of years back until present day. As part of Yom Yerushalayim they had a guest in town from the Consulate General of Israel, it was Gabriel Baredes who is the Director of Hispanic Israeli Affairs for the Miami Consulate. Gabriel was a young man about my age and he spoke of Israel and how when we as Jews pray for Israel we pray for everyone residing in Israel not just the Jews residing there. He also spoke of how many shuls nowadays tend to only have a presence of elderly people and that it is important to get entire families to come to shul together. I agree with him and I think that we can all learn to value family again by observing the Hispanic community and how they treat family without any regards to a multigenerational nomenclature. He also spoke of how many people might have had grandfathers who were Jewish or greatgrandfathers etc. What he was saying seemed to confirm what I stated when I reviewed my 11th congregation Bet Breira back on January 20th. Basically I stated that most Latin people were Jewish 500 years ago otherwise they never would have left Spain. The Oneg Shabbat was decent, I loved the carrot cake with cheesecake topping. Present at the Oneg were pamphlets and maps of Israel donated by the Conulate General of Israel. Until next week.Congregation Anshei Sholom

Rabbi Bernard Stefansky

5348 Grove Street

West Palm Beach, FL 33417

Phone: 561-684-3212

Email: anshei@juno.com

 

 

 

28. Friday May 19th 2006. 21st of Iyar 5766. Temple Judea in Miami. (Coral Gables)  On the way to shul I got to listen to NPR and a story about the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and how they made mistakes on the New Orleans Dam and how environmentalists could have gotten in the way etc. It was very interesting but I don’t think they should put blame on anyone at this point. Live and learn is the lesson. I left Boca at 4:00pm and arrived at 5:22pm so I had a little time to spare and decided to go to a little restaurant/pub I think it was called: “The Texas Taco Factory” (or something of that nature) I enjoyed a cold XX (Dos Equis - Mexican Kosher Beer) to pass the time before shul. I arrived at shul and was surprised to find a mix of people just perfect for a synagogue. People literally of all age brackets. The shul is beautiful yet the interior appearance somewhat oxymoronic in that they are blending traditional cherrywood interior with a modern Miami Vice motiff. It does not look half bad though.  The entire service was not done from a URJ prayer book but rather from a binded booklet that was prepared ahead of time for the service. As services started I was slightly shocked and felt somewhat awkward because at first it felt more like a Jim and Tammy Faye Baker Revival than it did a synagogue. The reason I say this is two fold: The rabbi had perfect hair that was put into place with hairspray and the cantorial soloist was blond and she was playing an accoustic guitar. Secondly; amongst the first words out of the rabbis mouth was how confirmation was a German Lutheran tradition and that it would be done here tonight. The interesting thing is that the rabbi eventually ended up changing the name of confirmation to a Hebrew name and explaining the history of confirmation and adding another tidbit of German Jewish history which was the fact that the Chuppah was also a Jewish tradition which started in Germany. (if you ask me volks I think we need to start reclaiming Germany, lol. NOT!!) I was quite pleased with the services and I hope Marcia Steele and Suzin are pleased with my review of it because they are the reason I decided to review this shul. They both invited me back in February by posting a message on my guestbook. One of the songs that they sang was about Jews being from everywhere and spoke of Jews who eat rice and live in Pagodas and Jews who eat hamburgers and live in the hills of Minnesota etc. It was only fitting to introduce myself as a Jew from the hills of MN at the Oneg which was one of the best Oneg Shabbats around: Lox, Bread, Egg Salad, Classic Coke with Ice etc etc and friendly people. Even on the way out of the shul. It does not stop my friends!!! I hope to see you here next week and if you have any comments sign my guestbook!!! The synagogue blog is always negotiable but not financially as I do not feel shuls should mix with money.

 

Temple Judea

 

5500 Grenada Blvd

 

Coral Gables, FL 33146

 

www.JudeaGables.org

 

27. Friday May 12th 2006. 15th of Iyar 5766. B’nai Jacob in West Palm Beach. I arrived five minutes late in the middle of services that had already started and the rabbi yelled out to me: “Who are you young man and why are you here at our elderly synagogue? Please introduce yourself” I told him: “I am Jay Shapiro from Boca Raton and I am touring 52 synagogues in one year and this is number 27” The congregants mostly smiled in glee. The synagogue itself seems humble like a small town community center. Mostly off white with some brown trim and nothing too fancy. The cantor was wearing a big tall Russian looking hat that would look more common in an orthodox Greek temple or maybe even and ultra orthodox Sephardic shul. Services included the requirements to make a Shabbat service and more than a Minyan was present as there were about 25 of us. The cantor was quite experienced and you could hear it in his voice but his age was indicative of his wisdom which is great. The rabbi is a rabbi who likes to be an educator of people and who likes to leave his mark and make his change on society. That part about him I respect because I am the same way. Rabbi Michael Korman spoke of Hebrew being a dormant language for roughly 2000 years and the fact that Sephardic Jews living in Spain who finally came to relearn modern Hebrew obviously had differences with the Ashkenazi Jews who lived in Germany, Poland, Russia etc. He went on to say that a panel of experts went on to judge and deciphered that Yemenite Hebrew was the most actual and: “We have to live with it folks” (I think what he really wanted to do was extend an Ashkenazi hand of peace to the Yemenites but it came out in the aforementioned quote) The rabbi made a the mistake of saying: “Lets open our books to page 28 for Kaddish” when in fact it was for Kiddish. He more than made up for it with humor. One thing that did make me do a slight amount of pondering was the fact that when this Rabbi, and it seems 90% of other Rabbis do the Amidah and request that you read about five pages in silence they do not give you enough time to read the five pages. Here I am in a room of seniors and I cannot even finish the first page before going on. (I was given an award for speed reading at a very young age) This weeks Rabbinical speech was about whether gay people should be permitted to be Rabbis. The Rabbi openly admitted that he supports it and that he thinks that the conservative movement is about 20 years behind the times and that this was evidenced by females eventually becoming equals. One member in the crowd blatantly disagreed with the rabbi and told him so. He said: “If this happens it will be the end of Judaism” The rabbi counteracted by saying: “If we go by Biblical rule men would have multiple women etc etc” The man confidently replied: That would be good!!! (even though his wife was there) Several comments were made and eventually I put in my own two cents. I said: “From what I have heard, it is permissible for a female to be with another female because they do not produce seed as does a male, and I think if modern fashion encourages men to be gay procreation will not be encouraged and our species will die out” The wisest quote came from Cantor who spoke of the Chabad viewpoint: “If a potential rabbi has those thoughts YET does not follow thru on them then he is permitted to be a rabbi” The rabbi then acknowledged that as a Jewish answer. I did not expect to enter into a gay and lesbian debate but it was interesting. Until next week my weekly readers.

 

Temple B'nai Jacob

Rabbi Michael Korman

2177 S. Congress Avenue

West Palm Beach, FL 33406

Phone: 561-433-5957

 

26. Friday May 5th 2006 (Cinco de Mayo) 7th of Iyar 5766. Synagogue of Palm Beach on Palm Beach Island. On the way to shul I got a phone call from some old friends in Minnesota who were out partying on a friends yacht in the 46 degree weather. When they asked me what I was up to it sort of felt good to shock them by telling them that I was going to go pray to G-d at a synagogue. The traffic was not too bad so I arrived early enough stop in at Chuck & Harrods for a Barley Pop. Rick Nelson was there singing and he remembered me. The bartender was a smiley young black man who reminded me of Buckwheat on the Little Rascal’s show. The bartender and I spoke about synagogues because he saw my yarmulke and I told him about my shul review. He was telling me about his shul in Rhode Island which is supposedly the oldest in the nation and he recommended that I visit it. So from there I waltzed over to the synagogue and went on inside. It was not actually the first time I had been there because last week I was in the neighborhood and one of the congregants grabbed me and encouraged me to go inside and check it out and meet the rabbi etc. I was surprised that he remembered me and and remembered the fact I write a synagogue blog. He joked about congregants being on their best behavior for this synagogue critic. The shul is very Palm Beachy. In the entrance is a box of pink yarmulkes and the shul matches the colors of its congregants who tend to dress in pastels or tweed coats. This is a very user friendly shul and although it is orthodox it is also very female friendly. The males and females are only separated by a few plants and the synagogues’ president addresses females equally in the speech. It was beginning of a sad Yahrtziet for one of the families and the staff was extremely honorable and focused with supporting the family and paying homage to them. The prayer book was the version from the OU and I noticed a prayer that was offensive and could even be mistaken as racist if viewed upon incorrectly. It was about praying to G-d and giving thanks for not being born a gentile. The reason it is offensive is obvious and two fold. First of all I have many gentile family members (some might have Jewish souls and don't yet know it) and secondly the word gentile in Hebrew means international (Not in Websters Dictionary but in translation) and being international means to be educated or rather effective linguistically and internationally and the concept of Moshiach (Messiah) dictates international peace achieved thru being multilingual and international in presence and nature. On a more positive note the prayer books are transliterated fully and very easy to follow. The rabbi’s name is Rabbi Scheiner and he has a positive relaxed personality. A strange thought that came to mind was that many of the orthodox rabbis share this aura of happiness in common and an outsider might wonder if these rabbis smoke kosher marijuana (its kosher in Amsterdam)  now and then to stay happy but when you do this for a living it probably does enlighten the spirit to a higher state and in fact I have come close to feeling that way sometimes even without drinking or smoking pot. I guess the key is to focus on maintaining that level of awareness on a consistent basis. That my friends is called mastery of life. I will try to remember this for my next week’s synagogue experience so that I can live it up even more. Shalom and until next week live life to its fullest.

 

120 N. County Road

P.O. Box 1028

Palm Beach, FL 33480

 

Phone: (561) 838-9002

Fax: (561) 838-5356

 

www.pbos.org

 

25. Friday, April 28th 2006. 30th of Nissan 5766. Young Israel of Boca Raton. I arrived at the shul with a great deal of anger because of an email that I received from an attorney at Hadassah. The email stated that I have been using the Hadassah name to sell my IsRoil Brand Olive Oil and that it is a violation of trademark usage. I donate $1.00 per bottle sold and the proof is published on my website with transaction numbers etc. In fact I promise to donate $1.00 but I donate much more than $1.00 per bottle. They told me that I have 10 days to cease and desist any usage of the word Hadassah or they will be forced to consider other options. Since when in America do you need permission to donate to charity and actually utilize the word of the charity that you are donating to? Yes I am using it as a marketing tool and yes I am donating. Both things are good things. The only thing more emotionally painful than being rejected is being rejected when you are trying to do a mitzvah. My ex girlfriend was actively involved in Hadassah and part of the reason I am doing this charity is because she treated me very well when I was dating her, she took me out to restaurants etc. This was back when I was struggling financially even more than I am now. So I figured that to donate to Hadassah would be a good way to rescind some of my past deficiencies and make things good. I was the first person to arrive at shul and I was sitting there with all of this anger and I know that if anyone were to walk through the door and ask how I was doing I probably would have blurted out a negative statement. Sitting in the lobby of the shul about four seconds before someone entered I received a stroke of genius and it somehow came to me in a flash. It was the thought of: G-d. We put the hyphen between the G and the d. So now I will continue on with my H-dassah campaign. Its now “H-dassah” and when the congregant entered the door and shared a good shabbos and asked how I was doing I replied: EXCELLENT. Not that Hadassah has been acting G-dly with me as of recent but truth is when I make a commitment I make it for keeps and I will donate as I stated I would!!! I love this organization and I will persist until they make the changes that need to be made. Readers I am sorry for letting you down this week but it was on my mind and I could not focus properly so perhaps I will revisit this shul in the future but here is what I noticed in the mood that I was in: The Torah Ark had doors that were emblazoned with bronze hands and each hand was holding captain Spock’s split finger position. The are was of hardwood. The sanctuary had many windows that were very high up and I remember looking through those windows and seeing pine trees that were higher than the pine trees in my home state of Minnesota. Each time I looked at those pine trees I imagined that with my eyes I had the ability to snap them in half as if they were the cedars of Lebanon. The congregants at this shul did not make much small talk and did not approach me and I think they might have been able to sense my anger. I would like to return there under better conditions someday. This was the first time I have ever been to an orthodox synagogue that was not either Chabad or Sephardic or AISH.

 

Young Israel of Boca Raton

7200 Palmetto Circle North

Boca Raton Fl 33433

PHONE: (561) 391-3235

 

24. Friday, April 21st 2006. 23rd of Nisan 5766. Temple of the Torah in Boynton Beach. For some reason I must have lost a week somewhere because when at shul I told some people there that this was my 23rd shul in a tour of 52 but now that I am typing this I am realizing that last week was the 23rd and this week was the 24th. What makes this so interesting is that this week is the 23rd of Nisan so the number did come into play, its also interesting that the rabbi when I told him it was the 23rd he instantly spoke of the 23rd Psalm which speaks of dwelling in the house of the lord forever. And to further the twilight zone effect, last week I was wondering if the number 23 had any meaning in Judaism and I found it this week. Did I pass over one week? Passover. This shul has some good stuff including a Torah ark that is magnificent to look at. The ark portrays the city of Jerusalem half divided by the ark doors and made up of very small mosaic style tiles or at least a tile looking pattern. The ark itself appears to be made of cherry wood or another hardwood. Another nice part of this shul are its overly friendly congregants all of whom were from Poughkeepsie, NY with the exception of one couple originally from Minneapolis. I had the opportunity to personally meet more than a Minyan out the 85 or so congregants present. Services were decent and well orchestrated. I witnessed the cantor having the congregants doing a shalom exercise that I don’t recall seeing before. It was as if the congregants were siphoning warmth or spiritual value from the air or the aura and trying to bring it closer to the heart or the bodies energy chakra vortex and all the while chanting: “Shalom, Shalom” if anyone knows about this cantorial process please sign my guest book and post the knowledge there for all of the blog readers to see. This shalom exercise might be a way of exorcising sad energy out of the body because G-d knows there was enough of it there. Mention was given of the death bombing in Israel that killed 8 and I thought of a friend in Minnesota because the mother of his best friend in Israel was amongst those who died. One of the congregants had also passed away earlier that day so there was an element of sadness in the air but they a positive bunch of congregants. Mostly retired and some young couples who were engaged to get married. This weeks Torah commentary was about counting the Omer and about counting on ourselves for something bigger and better. I enjoyed services there and the Oneg was especially pleasant. At the Oneg I waited for a corner piece of fattening chocolate cake and washed it down with some Lemonade. I was invited to a table where I got to gossip about some of my other shul experiences. One person at the table asked me about my religious background and I told her that it was an absence of a structured religious background and that both of my parents raised me to believe in one G-d yet they had no formal religious affiliations. My parents were fairly liberal back then and liked to experiment. I think my mom is ashamed to acknowledge that part of her past and I think my dad still enjoys some parts of the hippie generation. She acknowledged that I am a rebel. I remember commenting that I am a rebel of sorts but certainly not the type of rebel of yesteryear. In the 1950s a rebel would grease his hair and drink beer and chase girls on roller skates. In the 60s and 70s a rebel would get high and protest, in the 80s a rebel would grow big hair and listen to heavy metal music. In the new era when all of those activities have already lost their shock value a rebel is an upstanding young man who goes to synagogue every single week to find community, a wife, and G-d. Perhaps this rebel will only find the Sabbath Bride but the journey is good enough for me.

 

Temple Torah of West Boynton Beach

 

8600 Jog Road

 

Boynton Beach, FL 33437

 

561-369-1112

 

www.ttWBB.org

 

23. Friday, April 14th 16th of Nisan 5766. The Sephardic Synagogue of Fort Lauderdale - 3rd Floor of the Wachovia Bank Building. Services were to start at 7pm and I was in the area early so I found a great parking spot for my car. It was the McGuinness Irish pub on Galt Ocean Mile. To kill two birds with one stone I decided to use the pub for parking and for drinking. I went inside and had a Bacardi Coke with lime. Sitting there I had memories of my ex girlfriend Edie who lives right across the street. I understand she is going to get married soon. I really do wish her utmost happiness. Inside the pub I met an interesting couple, he was from England, she was from New York and they have a startup skincare company. We spoke about traffic safety, cosmetics and olive oil etc. I put my Yarmulke on in the Irish Pub and the local pub patrons seemed to look on with respect as I walk off to shul across the street. When I arrived there a very humble looking man was walking towards the shul and I told him that it was locked and he stated he has the key so I assumed he was a congregant with custodial responsibilities or connected somehow with building maintenance. (never did I assume he was the rabbi) We walked up the staircase together and I introduced myself and he stated: Shapiro is a nice Irish name and I stated that I just got back from the Irish pub across the street and I put my index finger over my lips and did a sshhh for secrecy so the rabbi would not find out but the funny thing is: HE WAS THE RABBI!!! When I found out he was the rabbi I was not even embarrassed because he is not the type of rabbi to want to make someone feel a negative emotion. Upon arriving on the third floor I entered the shul and I must admit this shul has the best view of any shul I have seen thus far. The eastern wall of the temple faces the ocean so to be praying towards the east and looking out a window that peers over the ocean towards Israel is something very special in and of itself. None of the congregants had beards although it is a traditional synagogue. The congregants were very helpful and personable. Yacov Silverman was the honorary Chazzan of the evening and he approached me and asked me if I know a certain rabbi. Another congregant asked me about a shul in Englewood, New Jersey and insisted I must make the trip there to see it. Services started and the rabbi was helpful and guided me through the bluebook as the Hebrew speakers had the green book. This was the first time since I started my synagogue tour that I really felt truly proud to honor and pray to G-d. I did not feel uncomfortable trying to daven as someone who is inexperienced and I did not feel uncomfortable doing things that I had not done at other shuls. I was wondering to myself if it was due to touring shuls and getting accustomed or if it was this shul or if it was a Sephardic difference. Although my Jewish roots are Ashkenazi I always thought that I would feel more comfortable around Sephardic Jew. Early on we were exactly one member shy of a Minyan and I remember a young guy by the name of Assaf getting nervous that we might not meet Minyan standards. Assaf wanted to divert the service over to Moshe Mayer’s Chabad shul so that we could make a Minyan. The rabbi insisted on staying. I remember praying. I said a couple of short prayers so that we could make a Minyan. The fact that I prayed for such a thing surprised me. We waited about 40 minutes and lo and behold someone who I used to know from a nightclub actually showed up to shul with a friend so we beat the Minyan by 1. Folks if you want a real synagogue service with real people give this shul a try. I am going to return there someday.

 

Sephardic Synagogue of Ft. Lauderdale.

 

3600 North Ocean Blvd. 3rd Floor.

 

Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308

 

954-561-1417

 

22. Friday, April 7th 9 of Nisan 5766. Congregation Beth Shalom in Coconut Creek. Locating Beth Shalom was a little bit of a challenge. I asked about 7 locals if they had ever heard of the shul and they all indicated they had not. I drove around for about 40 minutes looking for it and alas found It nestled in the corner of an old strip mall. It was in a strip mall yet the doors to the shul were very authentic looking. In other words they were not glass strip mall doors, these were big antiquated synagogue doors constructed out of dark hardwood or maybe stained cedar from Lebanon. In any case the doors were very impressive for an entity located in a strip mall. I finally entered the shul and the shuls president approached me and asked me a few questions. His name was Israel Spaizer and he had sort of a Henry Kissinger appeal and a great sense of humor. Henry, I mean Israel told me to be careful as I am a grandson at this shul and many of the congregants have granddaughters. He was right about that. This was the elderly of the mature crowd in south Florida. In fact besides myself the youngest person in the room was the cantor and even he must have been close to 60. I am only assuming he was the cantor. He led the service and could have been the rabbi but if he is he sure sings a lot for a rabbi. The songs were the typical ones that I hear almost every week when I go to shul but they were sung completely different. In my shul tour it never ceases to amaze me how each temple seems to have its own unique personality with respect to cantoring. The word cantor is much like the word “cantar” which is a word in Spanish that means: “sing” If any of you synagogue blog readers know if the word Cantor is derived from Ladino (language of Italian and Spanish Jews) I would like to know. Feel free to contact me or post your information on the bulletin guest book for all to read. The service was good and the Canti (Rabbi or Cantor?, little pun on words. I am a Cantor but Can’t I be a rabbi? Ok, you can be a Canti) spoke of the recent elections in Israel. It made me realize that in my search for a wife I have not even paid attention to world politics. Maybe its better that way. Going to this shul also made me realize that I have plenty of time to find a wife and to grow my business etc. Youth is a blessing I should not take for granted but sometimes do. This week they did not have the Oneg Shabbat as it is erev Pesach and it would have been too difficult. On the way out of the shul I had a somewhat shocking experience. There was a lady who looked like my grandmother and she looked me in the eyes with a sad seriousness and a yearning. Part of me wanted to hug her. As I exited the door I turned around and she was still looking at me in the eyes. It was a strange feeling and so as soon as I got to my car I had to call my grandmother in Minnesota and make sure everything was fine and thank goodness it was. I need to get back up there and see her soon so if you are reading this blog please purchase a case of IsRoil Olive Oil so I can afford the plane ticket to go see my bubbe. Good Pesach my people and I hope you visit again next week.

 

Congregation Beth Shalom

 

1447 Lyons Rd.

 

Coconut Creek, Florida. 33063

 

954-975-4666

 

21. Friday, March 31st 2006. 2 Nisan 5766. Temple Sinai of Hollywood. It was a beautifully sunny day driving down 95 on the way to shul listening to NPR until traffic slowed and I noticed a white car turned on its side. It must have been traveling very fast to have ended up on its side. It only reinforced a decision that I recently made which was to join: A Safer 95 organization which is an interstate 95 traffic safety group. As I got near the shul I kept thinking to myself that this would be the type of neighborhood I’d like to live in. Quaint white picket fences, middle class, clean, quiet, neighborhood. These types of neighborhoods are nice as there is no need to fuss with a security gate. I think this is the part of Hollywood that they refer to as Emerald Hills but I could be mistaken. When I arrived I was greeted by one of the shul’s director’s who gave me the tour of the shul and introduced me to the Cantor whose humor is friendly and comfortable like an old shoe. The synagogue itself was nothing short of amazing. I was shocked to find myself thinking I was in a nightclub. Black marble, mirrors, a black and mirrored bar with about 20 decorated olive oil bottles and stuffed pepper bottles etc. There was even a stage for live bands and such. It felt like the type of place you’d see a mafia wedding at on a gangster movie. I was lovin it. The cool shul I will dub it as. Services were good also. Rabbi Konigsburg encouraged everyone to sit from rows A to G so that we could hear each other better as there were only about 40 people attending service. The service was somewhat explanatory so I felt that it was good for beginners like myself. For example when we were about to sing Lch’Dodi he explained the reason for turning around to face the door. (to greet the Sabbath Bride coming down the aisle) Small details like this can make a big difference for beginners and they are a detail oriented shul. The rabbi spoke about Pesach and freedom and the actual night of Passover. The way he spoke made it seem like he really knows that this event actually happened in history as the books portray and it is something the Jews will never forget. He spoke about how the Dali Lama is now studying Passover with much admiration. Not many rabbis seem to actually know of what they govern and teach yet he surely appears to. This weeks Shabbat temple flyer (newsletter) was printed in pink and on the front of it was Bat Mitzvah girl Rachel Mukamal and the rabbi had it printed in pink, I thought that it was so thoughtful and that her proud parents will probably keep this flyer as a family heirloom, in fact I know they will. This place has been in operation since 1942. That is before both of my parents were born. That is when my grandfather was fighting in Normandy, in fact I have his dog tags and I think they say 1942. This institution has witnessed a lot and my imagination runs wild and makes me feel like you can feel the energy of all of those thousands of congregants who came before myself. The rabbi and the maintenance man are both very proud of this Jewel of a cool shul. This one is worth the drive but they tell me Saturday services are the best. Peace, until next week my loyal readers.

 

Temple Sinai of Hollywood

 

1400 North 46th Ave.

 

Hollywood, FL 33021

 

954-987-0026

 

www.SinaiHollywood.org

 

20. Friday, March 24th 2006. Temple Beth Am in Margate. I had been told about this shul from our accountant at work, Mr. Silverman spoke highly of the place and I think he was right. I was actually not really looking forward to going to shul with the same anticipation that I usually do. I was looking forward to a cold Budweiser. On the way to shul I stopped off at a small Italian Restaurant across the street from the shul by the name of: “Rolling in Dough” It was a quaint eatery with good buffalo wings, cold Bud and wild senior citizens. So after a cold Bud I headed over to da shul.  It was the first time I had ever been to a Carlebach service. A Carlebach service is a service that incorporates the inspiration, teachings, and wisdom of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach by putting it all into a musical prayer format. Synergistic singing, praying, and a certain amount of clapping almost throughout the service. There were about 85 people present and amongst them were a good mix of people of all different ages, many children, baby boomers, a few seniors and of course myself. (The 33 year old) The congregants all knew the songs word for word in Hebrew and many of them seemed very enlightened. The rabbi spoke about the Matisyahu concert and how he was always looking forward to the time when Jews would do crossover music and thought that Craig Taubman would have been the one to get involved in that stream. Personally I felt very out of place at this shul but I would highly recommend it to young couples with families and Judaic music lovers in general. Sorry this weeks blog was shorter than usual but since I am not a musical expert and Carlebach services are all musical I am limited in content to write about, you will just have to try if yourself.

 

Temple Beth Am

7205 Royal Palm Boulevard

Margate, FL 33063-2400

 

www.Beth-Am.org

 

19. Friday, March 17th 2006. Synagogue of Inverrary also known as: Chabad of Fort Lauderdale. I arrived at 5:40pm thinking that the Mincha service was slated to start at 5:45pm and to my surprise I was the only person there. The door was wide open, no security and nobody else there. The Chabad must have no fear because most synagogues have patrol cars, video cameras etc and this shul was in an average neighborhood and no security. Perhaps angels were there acting as security liasons. The synagogues newletter had advertisements or sponsorships on it with such names as: Kosherica Cruises, Sunrise Pita, Tallis n Tefillin, Web e USA, Pita Pan Bakery, Zoom Auto Leasing and some others. The newsletter was very personalized to its congregants and if its reasonable maybe I will take out a small sponsorship for IsRoil.  The Minyan actually started at about 6:13pm. Posted on the door of the sanctuary was a sign that stated something to the effect of: “Talking in the shul during service is hazardous to your health” I entered and went up to the bookshelf and asked someone if they could help me find the prayer book with English transliterations. He found it for me and pointed out the sections for the Shabbat Micha and introduced himself and asked me where I am from and I told him I am originally from Minnesota. He told me he knows Rabbi Moshe Feller from Minnesota and when sharing that I reside in Boca Raton he also knows Rabbi Denburg and I realized that I have only been to Chabad shuls about five or six times in my life and for him to know two rabbis whom I have personally met means one of two things: Either he is one connected Chabadnik or Chabad in general is literally like one big family and I like to think of it as the later. I am starting to feel like the non-Hebrew speaking cousin of that family. So after I spoke with him I took my prayer book to my seat and sat down and overheard a couple of guys who were probably in there 60s speaking about Ghettos and world cultures and interesting things in foreign countries. The two guys were somewhat loud and one of them had a big gold chain on. All of a sudden they started speaking Spanish and I turned to them and said: Hablas Espanol Verdad? We started speaking in Spanish and they asked me where I am from and I replied:"Minnesota" and eventually had to explain that I taught English in Venezuela for one year and that is how I developed my Spanish speaking abilities. They then introduced me to someone else Venezuela, a certain Mr. Jimenez. One of the two gentleman who was talking asked me if there are Jews from Minnesota (I must get that line three times per day) and I told him sure: Aaron Brown, Bob Dylan, Al Franken etc, they are all from Minnesota. He said Bob Dylan is not Jewish, some people only claim to be Jewish because they have a Jewish name. (the tone of his voice was not exclusive or condescending, it was more of a humorous sarcastic pride of observence) Then another individual defended Bob by saying that he has Jewish family there by the name of Zimmerman and they were in such and such business etc. At this point there was still slightly over a minyan but most arrived late and eventually the room had about 40 people present. The interesting thing is that about 90 percent of the congregants came up and introduced themselves to me. Nothing of this nature ever seems to happen at other shuls. One congregant even invited me to have Shabbos dinner at his house with his wife and spend the night. A friend I have not met before inviting me to sleep over, imagine that! When Rabbi Aron Lieberman gave the weekly torah portion it was about the treatment of farm animals. The animal rights activists would have loved this guy and they would probably learn to love Judaism. He spoke of various laws such as not forcing animals to do certain things or harming them or forcing them to eat something that is not healthy etc. These old laws really do seem to be laws that are universal and apply today or at least they should when looked at in the right light. Out of all of my Chabad experiences this one was one was tops, I do not know how to daven properly and I don’t even speak Ivrit (Hebrew) yet I did not feel at all out of place here with these humble, friendly, and fun congregants. As for as the building itself, it was alright but the sanctuary was nice. The Chazzan was admired by many and the rabbi has a humble matter of fact way of speaking that will make anyone feel comfortable. He reminded me of an intelligent Jewish version of the character Hoss on the old western show “Bonanza“ only joking about the metaphor but not about the humility and friendly manner of both the fictional character and the rabbi. Try it for yourself. I think Jackie Gleason might have davened at this shul.

 

Synagogue of Inverrary

 

6700 NW 44th St.

 

Lauderhill, FL 33319

 

954-733-5333

 

www.chabadftlauderdale.com

 

18. Friday, March 10th 2006. Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El in Plantation, Florida. I arrived early so I went to a nearby Macaroni Grill for a free loaf of bread and a glass of Cabernet. Sitting there with the bread and wine I remembered an old hippy friend of my mother’s whom we used to have dinner with; his name was Jim Daniels and he was the person who wrote the song: “On the road again” which has always been sung by the great Willie Nelson. What I learned from Jim is that if you dip garlic bread in red wine it tastes superb. (he was right) At Macaroni Grill they give olive oil with bread and so I decided to pour some of my red wine into the olive oil and sample it with the bread. (I call it OliVino) the net result of my discovery was that olive oil mixed with red wine turns the color of the olive oil and does not stay separated if its mixed hard enough. This came as a huge surprise to me because vinegar will not mix with olive oil. Onward through the fog to the shul: I pulled up into the synagogue parking lot and even arriving 15 minutes early I noticed a full parking lot and people parking on the grass of a parking lot the size of the Mall of America. It was packed!!! I also noticed a tour bus there and the first thought that came to mind is that Craig Taubman must be touring and performing live tonight. So I entered and the sanctuary was very large and nicely decorated with one of my favorite colors burgundy. A klezmer band was there and they were well equipped with Oboes, Saxophones, Electric Guitars, Bongos and Congas and instruments that I can’t even pronounce the name of. I eventually found out that this was 10 synagogues in one. It was a special Broward county synagogue event that brought together some big names in the Broward shul society. Rabbis included: Rabbi Littman of “The Blond Shul” - Temple Bat Yam, Rabbi Mark Gross (who has a Grossly confident sense of humor and a mastery of words), Rabbi Tuffs of Temple Beth El, Rabbi Winters of B’nai Shalom, Rabbi Lipson of Temple Dor Dorim, Rabbi Harold Camiker of Etz Chaim “Jews of the Rainbow Shul” , of their respective shul rabbis: Harr, Maline, and Treiser, from Congregation Kol Tikvah Rabbi Lilienthal and last but not least Temple Solels Rabbi Frazin. Tonight to me felt like being in NYC on Broadway and watching a very well rehearsed theatrical event. Each cantor would take turns crooning the traditional tunes with modern twists and each rabbi would shpiel some words of wisdom. One of them gave a speech about how in life everything comes to an end and the flames go out but in life we give life and that light never get extinguished.  The service was decent, the music was great and each week that goes by I get to love Jewish music considerably more than before. To top of the night this weeks torah portion was about olive oil. Parshat Tetzaveh spoke about the instruction to bring pure olive oil for lamp lighting. Happy Purim Everyone!!!

 

Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El

8200 Peters Road

Plantation, FL 33324

954-472-1988

954-472-4439 (fax)

 

17. Friday, March 3rd 2006.  B'nai Aviv in Weston Florida.  (The Cigar Humidor Shul)  They dub it as Weston's conservative synagogue and I dub it as the Cigar Humidor Shul do to its elegant yet comforting cherrywood interior. I arrived on time at 6:30 pm entered the sanctuary and was amazed with its elegant contempory interior. Each seat is made of cherrywood, has a cushioned seating surface and armrests. It was like being at a Boca Muvico theatre. When services started Rabbi Samuel Kieffer said: "Good afternoon; Yall ready to rock n roll?"  I normally don't use bad words when describing rabbis but I cannot resist the temptation to call him: "The No-Bullshit Rabbi"  I kept thinking to myself that this rabbi must be from Chicago and if not he should be. If you are a midwesterner like myself you can probably respect a straight forward say it the way it is approach to speaking. I will admit the services seemed slightly canned and fast and rehearsed a million times before but during services the rabbi did speak about how every week we go to shul and say the same prayers and sing the same songs etc but the difference is that you the shulgoer are a different person this week than you were last week. I really enjoyed that thoughtful statement. He spoke of Purim and how it is the only holiday which not only permits that you drink but insists that you get stone drunk and he gave several stories that enlightened view points of Purim and spirituality of getting drunk on that day. The cantor was great, he had a very deep baritone voice that puts you in that spiritual G-d fearing mood. All of the congregants were attentive, professional, quiet and seemed to have an inner happiness. I found myself wondering if these shulgoers did many mitzvahs in their lives or in past lives to deserve such happiness, such a beautiful shul, wealth, health and good looking families. These are all things that G-d wants for us and many of these people had it because they deserved it. (or at least thats the genuine feeling that I got) I did not see anyone handing out those synagogue flyers/newsletters that 95% of the shuls give out before services. Why waste paper and pay for editorial services is what came to my mind.

 

Temple B'nai Aviv

 

1410 Indian Trace

 

Weston, Florida  33326

 

954-384-8265

 

www.bnaiaviv.org

 

16. Friday February 24th 2006. Temple Beth Torah / Tamarac Jewish Center. A conservative synagogue just north of Commercial Ave in Tamarac, Florida. The building appears to have been around at least since the 1970s if not longer yet it has a distinguished solid look to it and the interior is even better. Services were scheduled to start at 6pm and I arrived at about 5:57pm and was surprised that the foyer was named after a Shapiro. As I walked in the shul there were two large sanctuaries; the one on the left had a klezmer band with a small audience and the one on the right had a few people chatting. Myself and a couple others in the Shapiro foyer could not figure out which room services were to be held in but we eventually followed the crowd into the room on the right which was the genuine sanctuary. The congregants were dressed surprisingly elegant and many of the cars in the parking lot were high end to the extent that I have not even seen in any Boca Raton shul. I always thought of Tamarac as a lower middle class place that might need a dose of gentrification to raise property values, so where did all of these sharply dressed congregants come from? The services actually started a few minutes late because they were finishing up the pre-Shabbat klezmer ensemble in the west wing of the shul. When services did finally start I could not help but to notice that about 75 - 78% of the people there were real people watchers, they spent a lot of time looking around the room at the other congregants and of course I must have been guilty of that also otherwise I would not have noticed it myself. Its like the old adage: “It takes one to know one” The people were really very interesting to look at as they were of all ages, mostly young families and many people from other countries. I think I heard a couple speaking Ladino which is an ancient Jewish language of the Sephardic Jews. The services were fast, easy, and fairly structured. The cantor was a very young gentleman with the chiseled face of a tough guy, he did not look like what people claim a stereotypical Jew might look like rather he appeared to me to be Austrian, Hungarian, or German, wherever he was from it does not matter because his Hebrew is great and his voice is strong so he was there with reason and did a marvelous job but don’t take my word for it:

 

TEMPLE BETH TORAH - TAMARAC JEWISH CENTER

9101 N.W. 57th STREET TAMARAC, FLORIDA 33351

954.721.7660

 

www.templebethtorahtamarac.org

 

15. Friday February 17th 2006. Congregation Shaarai Kodesh in Boca Raton, Florida. Is a conservative synagogue located in the JARC building at the Boca Raton Jewish Federation. Services started at 7:30 sharp and the rabbi was out of town for the week and the cantor Dr. Scott Demsky led this weeks service which focused on Parshat Yitro or in English “Jethro” It made me think because I recently remember reading this story either in the chumash or Rabbi Tuvia Bolton’s emailer (one of the two, I forget) and what I read spoke about Yitro as a convert who was not able to approach Moshe as he was not Jewish and he wanted to be Jewish so he attached a note to an arrow and shot the arrow up to the heavens and the arrow never came back down. It is G-d who chooses who is Jewish. Hashem got the note and told Moshe that his intentions are sincere and to accept him as a keeper of Jewish tradition and a family member. So Yitro circumcised himself and was part of the tribe. (I don’t blame him for doing it himself, I would not want someone to touch me there with a sharp object) Certain prayers could not be said as only 8 people were present at the service so of course it was not a minyan. Thus far this is the smallest service I have ever attended. Even the bimah was just a small prop on a foldable table. But hey, the first ever synagogue was just a pile of rocks with Israeli olive oil poured over it so obviously G-d does not judge us by our size rather our merits and intentions. They have good intentions at this shul and sometimes its less intimidating and more intimate to go to a place with only a few present. Its more of a kitchen table experience as opposed to an amusement park or crowded shopping mall type of experience.

 

Congregation Shaarei Kodesh (C)

Rabbi David Hoffman

Dr. Scott Demsky, Cantor

President: Amy Grossblatt Pessah

P.O. Box 880426

Boca Raton, Fl 33488

Office: (561) 496-4554

E-mail: info@shaareikodesh.org

Website: www.shaareikodesh.org

 

14.) Friday February 10th 2006. Temple Emeth in Delray Beach, Florida. “The Zionist Shul” Services started at 8pm and I walked in at about 8:04 and the services were literally already started, I mean, I felt LATE which is a sign that the staff and the congregants are on the ball and value punctuality. Upon arriving I noticed an abnormally high level of security, two or three police cars with flashing lights constantly driving around the perimeter and another at the door greeting guests as if he were a host. I also noticed several video cameras located in and around the shul. The congregants that attended that night were 56% female and 44% male, most of whom I am speculating were retired and many of them were from the Midwest which made me feel comfortable being that I am from Minnesota. Another interesting thing that I noticed is that the ladies wore yarmulkes more often then not but these were not your ordinary kippot, they were elegant English style doilies and they looked very classy. The service itself was very structured yet the structure felt good at this shul, it was structured for a reason and not just a “lets get on with it” sort of feeling‘. I might be exaggerating when I say that the first 50 minutes of the service was dominated by the Cantor Mr. Efraim Sapir. The cantor has a great voice and sounded like a Latino singer to me but I later met him at the Oneg Shabbat and realized that he was not. I did not think much of the Rabbi Mr. Richard Yellin but that is because he hardly spoke a word, but; when he finally started speaking I was impressed. He makes you feel proud to be a Jew. “There are two types of people in the world: Those who are Jewish and those who want to be Jewish” This rabbi did not say that but he did say it in another way because he made you feel it. He had a strong pride for Israel that you could feel in his voice. The rabbi spoke of the Muslim ship that recently sank in the red sea. He made parallels to stories in the torah and the Egyptians and he was able to illustrate the friendly and peaceful way of the Jewish people through the mouth of an Arabic Muslim, he told a story about a Muslim person who came to realize that Israel is the only Middle Eastern country where a Muslim (or a person of any religion) can walk right in and not have to display proof of religion etc. In Arabic countries such as Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, a person must show their religion to the government when they arrive. In Israel a person from any religion can walk right through the border, become a citizen, obtain the same rights to vote that any Jew or anyone else in the country has. Democracy my friend. He also illustrated the success of the Arabic community in Israel and that Israelis do NOT live in fear, it’s the other countries that live in fear because they are insecure. I am so impressed because even though I have never been to Israel, the words he spoke were the words I have thought of many times over. At the Oneg Shabbat I met the cantor and his wife. She is an Israeli and a U.S. citizen and I tested her on her Spanish but that did not work well because her Spanish was a little better than mine, she has family in Costa Rica, Panama, and if I remember correctly Venezuela which is where I taught English for a year and learned my Spanish. I am really glad I decided to do this synagogue blog, it seems to get better every week. I can hardly wait until next Friday.

 

Temple Emeth

5780 W Atlantic Ave

Delray Beach, FL 33484-8599

Phone: (561) 498-3536

Fax: (561) 498-8956

 

5780 W Atlantic AveDelray Beach, FL 33484-8599 (561) 498-3536 (561) 498-8956

 

 

13.) Friday February 3rd 2006. Chabad of Boca Raton in Central Boca Raton, Florida. The Dora and Jacob C. Cohen Synagogue. Services started at 5:50PM. The building is very modern and clean and fairly fanciful. The rabbi; Rabbi Moishe Denburg was quick to great me as a newcomer and inquire where I was from and ask how I was etc. Services were focused on prayers and songs and the rabbi really put intense passion in the songs. He had his congregants dance and sing and cackle with loud adoration for the torah and praise of G-d. It was quite a sight and many people including myself laughed but it was not a condescending laugh as it was more light hearted lets get out of our comfort zone kind of laugh. There were no speeches given in English but much singing and praying. I also did not see any females at this synagogue. Usually at an orthodox service some women will be there on the other side of the room but here there did not appear to be any. Services were light and did not last too long. Someday I might return there for an event or Fahrbringen or class of some sort.

 

17950 Military Trail

Boca Raton, FL 33496-2409

 

USA

 

Phone: 561-994-6257

 

Fax: 561-998-4646

 

www.ChabadofBocaRaton.com

 

12.) Friday January 27th 2006. Temple Bat Yam in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “The Golden Synagogue” The rabbi told me that Bat Yam is Fort Lauderdale’s only Reform synagogue. After noticing the peaceful solitude of last weeks reform shul in Miami this was an ear opener. The noise in the room made me think of a friendly beer hall that I’d seen on the travel channel. Loud but in a friendly social sort of way. Before services everyone was socializing and many people knew one another and they all had plenty of words to share. It was nice to see a solid Jewish presence and connected community in south Florida. You could tell that many of the congregants had probably been members for several years and had roots in the community. I gave this congregation a nickname that came to mind: “The Golden Synagogue” for a couple of reasons but what really made me think of the nickname was the fact that about 75% of the female congregants had golden hair. The men mostly had dark or graying hair for some reason. It was the first time I had ever encountered such a blond synagogue where “The Golden Girls” were at home. To top it off the walls were tan and gold fixtures were adorned, it really was quite nice and so were the people. One congregant stated to me that she advertises this place as the shul with the best Oneg Shabbat in town. The services provided sort of a small town churchy sort of appeal. A 12 or 13 piece choir sang many songs with lye la lye, lye lye lye lye. The lye songs made me think of my Norwegian grandmother who used to cook Lutefisk in lye. Rabbi Lewis Littman spoke of today being a big first in Jewish history as the Holocaust Remembrance Day was recognized by the United Nations and 102 countries sided with Israel in favor. The rabbi gave this speech in such a manner that you could tell he really cared and was not just trying to put on a good speech but rather it really hit home with him. Adjective recap: established, outgoing, blond, caring, and easy going.

 

5151 NE 14th Terrace

Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33334

 

PHONE: (954) 928-0410

FAX: (954) 928-0762

 

11.) Friday January 20th 2006. Congregation Bet Breira in Miami, FL. A reform shul in what appears to be in a multi-million dollar building resembling a pyramid. I arrived 15 minutes late as this shul is actually in Kendall which is a southern suburb of Miami. When I arrived I was amazed at the architecture of the building, it was magnificent and resembled the pyramids which our ancestors built thousands of years ago. The size of the shul was decent yet only about 25 people were present for the Shabbat service. The attendees were all very respectful and quiet, you could here a pin drop in the sanctuary. There were no cell phones or beepers going off, the people were focused and respectful. Rabbi Jaime Klein Aklepi was like the shepherd over her congregants, she takes the time to call her sick congregants and really seems to get involved, very personable and I like that. The rabbi did indicate that on Saturday they are having an event titled: “Sex and the animals” (I think it must be about Noah’s Ark or something) The cantor Don Bennett has a strong manly voice that really does its job of putting you in a religious or spiritual state of mind. Services lasted an hour and 17 minutes but felt like only five minutes and I thank that to the architecture of the shul. Being in the sanctuary makes time fly by because it is so beautiful and exotic. Perhaps they are content with a turnout of 25 congregants or perhaps they usually have many more. If the turnout is that low I know what I would do if I were rabbi or shul president. I’d start marketing to the Latinos in the neighborhood. After all they were forced to leave Spain because many of them were Jewish 600 years ago and the government of Spain kicked them out and they came to places like Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba and eventually to Miami. They look like a watered down version of a typical Jew because they intermarried with native indigenous peoples. I think it would be a great mitzvah if the synagogues would give the Latin people a little slap in the face and make them aware of this fact. In the very least the shul would fill up with membership. After shul I was driving home listening to Salsa 98.3 and heard an ad for a latin nightclub in Kendall by the name of Kafe Krystal, so I stopped in and had a couple of Johnny Walker Blacks and a Cuba Libre Bacardi. I met a few people who were very interested in listening to my local shul experience. I did some salsa dancing and then made my way back home to Boca Raton.

 

Temple Bet Breira

 

9400 SW 87th Ave

 

Miami, FL 33176

 

TEL: 305-595-1500

 

FAX: 305-279-4147

 

10.) Friday January 13th 2006. Aish HaTorah in Hollywood, FL. An orthodox shul with a humble approach to getting people from all walks of life involved in Judaism. I was the first to arrive, services were programmed to start at 5:30PM and I arrived at about 5:25PM and was shocked to be the first. I was greeted by a volunteer by the name of: Lonnie, we made small chat until the other shulgoers arrived and they DID arrive in masses, it was a packed house and eventually people were davening in the streets. At first I felt a little uncomfortable because it was like a religious zoo. I do not mean that in a bad way but people were doing things that I had not experienced before. People from many different backgrounds davening and chanting in different ways. The service did hold true to any other orthodox service yet it differed in the level of intensity in the prayers and songs. There were a couple of people people from Colombia, Two from Iran, One from South Africa, One from Ukraine, 6 from Israel and 53 from the U.S. After services we had Shabbat Dinner and it was titled: My BIG FAT GREEK Shabbat. Rabbi Nightingale shared his views over Shabbat dinner, he spoke of Sharon, Israel, The evil eye, and the Jewish view of G-d and punishment. This rabbi is a powerhouse waiting to happen. Not to say that he has not already happened but I see some bigness and goodness coming. The rabbi spoke of the evil eye and he asked if anyone in the room had an evil eye and of course I do wear a Sephardic black onyx Mogen David which wards off evil. Rabbi gave a small speech on the evil eye and he mentioned that a Hummer would be a vehicle that would catch many evil eyes. I felt bad because I drive a European luxury sedan and maybe someone would give me an evil eye because of it? I sure hope that they would not. During dinner I met someone from my hometown of Minneapolis, MN and some locals. The longer the evening the more the people became melded with one another to the point where nobody wanted t leave, I still wonder if some spent the night there. I also had the opportunity to meet a beautiful lady from Israel whom I’d met online several years ago and finally met face to face. I hope she reads this.

 

Aish HaTorah.

 

tel:

 

(954) 989-AISH (2474)

 

fax

 

(954) 894-9016

 

4010 N. 46th Avenue

Hollywood, FL 33021

9.) Friday January 6th 2006. Temple B’nai Israel in Boca Raton. I originally tried to go to an orthodox synagogue by the name of: The Synagogue of Palm Beach but after driving all the way to Palm Beach it was closed. I don’t know what happened. So I spent an hour driving back to Boca and made my way to this large reform shul. The shul is so large that it is like walking through a labyrinth to find the Sanctuary. I found the sanctuary, it was very nice, elegantly decorated, large, and filled with people, probably about 80% of capacity which I feel is a good turnout. Some familiar faces, noticed some shulgoers whom I had previously met on Jdate a couple of years ago. The rabbi dedicated a sizable portion of the service to Ariel Sharon who recently had a stroke and he went in depth on Ariel’s life and accomplishments. What an amazing life that man has had thus far. Services were easy and friendly and the rabbi tried to get everyone to clap to the music together and they did but I think he wanted more umph put into the clap. Sometimes people are a little reluctant clap loudly and really get into the moment for fear of being a little embarrassed, I know I am unless I am drinking, which made me just remember: The shul is throwing a Torah and Tonic VIP cocktail party on Thursday the 19th at 5:30PM, I will not be going but it might be a great idea because when people drink they are more honest, more willing to ponder religion and spirituality and to dig into there pocketbooks. I say this in all sincerity and part of the reason I enjoy Chabad is that they have the alcohol at many events. Services were light and very easy to understand because the room has decent acoustics with loud speakers. At the Oneg Shabbat I had some fudge brownies that I would return for. Damn they were good!!!

 

Congregation B'nai Israel

2200 Yamato Road

Boca Raton, Florida 33431-4325

 

Synagogue Office:

Ph. 561.241.8118

Fax 561.241.1701

 

Ph. 561.241.8118Fax 561.241.1701 2200 Yamato Road Boca Raton, Florida 33431-4325Ph. 561.241.8118Fax 561.241.1701 www.cbiboca.org

 

8.) Friday December30th 2005. Temple Beth Orr in Coral Springs. When I arrived in the parking lot there was a small billboard advertising the temple’s radio station: 104.5 FM, I clicked on that station and it actually was speaking about the shul but the funny thing is that after services I went to the same station and found one of my favorites “Delilah” but she did not talk about shul. Maybe they have radio transmitters rigged to the temple itself. Services started at 8pm and this week was the last Shabbat in the secular new year. Rabbi Gross has a Gross (as in BIG, much pun intended) sense of humor, he spoke of the New Year and how Jews once observed four new years and nowadays we only observe two so its a lightened load. Besides having a grossly observed sense of humor he is also a master of words and comparisons. It is really entertaining to listen to him speak. This shul seems to have a lot going for it yet a big part of the congregation including the cantor were out of town for the holiday weekend so I did not get to witness a typical Friday night service yet was invited back by the Rabbi and Cantor. As far as the congregants go; they made me feel like I was back home in Minnesota. They wore jeans, some wore sandals etc. It was about 50/50 as far as casual and dressed up. Large, casual, humorous, and family oriented. Not a bad place to be on Fridays.

 

2151 Riverside Dr.

 

Coral Springs, FL 33071

 

954-753-3232

 

www.templebethorr.org

 

7.) Friday December 23rd 2005. Bnai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton. Two out of the seven shuls I have visited thus far were purveyors ( or oy-veyers) of Rabbis from England. This rabbi was not from England yet his last name was Englander and he seemed like a pleasant enough fellow to have been from England but I don’t know if there is any connection. Services started at 5:45pm and the rabbi took the time to introduce himself to the guests and those in from out of town. It was a conservative conservative shul. (must be one of those rare exceptions where the adjective is the same word as the noun its describing) The service appeared as if it were done according to the book and according to conservative tradition. I was wishing that I knew Hebrew and I kept reminding myself that by the end of my 52 shul tour I probably will know some of these prayers and some of the Hebraic content and its deeper meaning. One of the Rabbis was from my home state of Minnesota, the lovely Amy Rader. She asked many of the children in the congregation historical questions about the patriarch Jacob (my personal favorite) and these kids knew the answers, they had been taught well. The service lasted slightly over an hour. All in all it was good so if you live in the neighborhood definitely give it a try but don’t drive up from Miami to see anything strange at this shul.

 

6261 SW 18th Street

Boca Raton, Florida 33433

Phone: (561) 392-8566 Fax: (561) 362-0990

www.bnai-torah.org

 

6.) Friday December 16th 2005. Temple Shalom in Pompano Beach, Florida. A conservative shul on 11th Ave just south of Atlantic. I found out ahead of time on the USCJ website that this was a small shul and small is both an overstatement and an understatement. Yes, this actually was the smallest temple I have ever attended but it was BIG in heart. I felt as if I were sitting in a small mansions library and the Englishman was about to offer Scotch whisky and some intriguing stories. One of the room’s walls is literally a bookshelf. The Rabbi Ivan Wachmann truly enjoys what he does, he has found his place in life. If this rabbi were in a nightclub you would consider him a player but thank G-d his realm is the shul. The service was great, very interactive and the rabbi asked questions, told stories, and really made it a great time. As a lover of anomalies this rabbis efforts could be dubbed as “OrthoForm” Even though this is a conservative shul its wisdom stems from Talmudic tractate, life experience, and scholastic hand me downs. I was fortunate to witness the more liberal side of this shul also. The cantor: “Steve Warsche” looked and sounded like a real wiseguy from the northeast yet you could see that he is all about Judaism and community, it was the first time I had ever witnessed guitar playing in a conservative synagogue. He played rock and Jewish folk music and one of the songs was dedicated to his deceased father. At the Oneg Shabbat I was told that this 25 member shul will go family soon so my advice is to go while it is still small. You will like this shul regardless of your background.

 

TEMPLE SHOLOM OF POMPANO

123 S.E. 11th Avenue

Pompano, Beach, Florida 33060

 

Tel: (954) 942-6410

Email: tempshol@bellsouth.net

 

5.) Friday December 9th 2005. BRS. Boca Raton Shul. An orthodox shul in Boca Raton near Powerline and Palmetto. This shul is large with much going on. I phoned a friend who attends this shul ahead of time to get details and its probably a good thing that I did because if I would have parked in the shul parking lot my car probably would have been locked in until the end of Shabbos, needless to say I parked in a nearby field where a few other shulgoers parked. I have always wanted to go to a Sephardic Minyan and this gave me the opportunity as they have one. I found my way into the Sephardic shul and seated myself only to be greeted by Yitzchak Mizrachi who noticed that I did not have a prayer book and inquired if I speak Hebrew, I told him that I do not and he invited me to sit nearby and handed me a prayer book. He gave me a prayer book which was in English and Hebrew, he and his son helped me find my way through and I am grateful for that. Although I could not identify with the language (apart from common words I know) and the Sephardic Orthodox customs I still got benefit out of this. The whole service was in HEBREW ONLY and as a novice linguist I know that hearing a language is the first step to learning. Besides the language the obvious benefit of honoring G-d and of course being seen in such a respectable place. To cling to genuine torah scholars has been compared to clinging to G-d and so if these are the scholars I think I want to return there someday. After shul I enjoyed Shabbat dinner with a friend of mine who lives in the neighborhood, then we went to a Sholom Zochor Party (First Shabbos Party for newborn baby) while at the party I met a certain Mr. Romano in the jewelry business, he sold me my first ever pinky ring when I moved to Boca Raton three years ago. At that time it was gold with black onyx and now it is gold with a golden emerald.

 

7900 Montoya Circle

 

Boca Raton, FL

 

33433

 

www.brsweb.org

 

561-394-5732

 

4.) Friday December 2nd 2005. Temple Beth El in Hollywood. A reform shul in East Hollywood. I was planning to attend an orthodox shul by the name of: “The Shul of Bal Harbor” Only problem was that I was late and would have never made it in time for Minyan. So I went to Beth El. It was a very small congregation that had a strong focus on children and acoustic guitars. The rabbi had the congregants meditate and hug five strangers. The speech was about Yitzhak being a preserver of the Jewish tradition and a bridge between Abraham and Jacob. All in all it was friendly and decent.

 

1351 S. 14th Avenue

Hollywood, Fl 33020-6499

Phone: (954) 920-8225

Fax: (954) 920-7026

 

3.) Friday November 25th 2005. Temple Beth El. A reform synagogue on 4th Ave in Boca. This is a large shul with many families of all ages. My mother was in town for Thanksgiving and she attended shul with me. We got to see an 81 year old man have his second Bar Mitzvah, an art unveiling, a bat mitzvah, three baby naming and more. The rabbi has a sort of Seinfeld appeal. All in all this is a FAMILY congregation. Very nice but not the shul for this single wild man.

 

333 S.W. 4th Avenue

Boca Raton, FL. 33432

(561) 391-8900 Voice

(954) 427-9840 Voice

(561) 395-8913 Fax

 

2.) Friday November 18th 2005. Temple Sinai. A reform congregation in Delray Beach on Atlantic. A very vibrant warm yet mostly elderly community. They take much pride in getting newcomers involved and making them part of the Oneg Shabbat and courting them for a return. The rabbi is from England and really enjoys what he does. The cantor Jennifer Werby has a lovely voice. I wanted to return but I am planning to go to 52 shuls before attending another twice.

 

2475 West Atlantic Avenue

Delray Beach, Florida 33445

(561)276-6161

 

1.) Friday November 11th 2005. “Veterans Day” Temple Beth Ami. A conservative shul on Glades Road and 4th Ave. Nice Veteran’s Day speech. It was a small elderly turnout not long after the hurricane. The cantor had a nice silvery voice. The turnout is probably much larger during a typical Friday service but this was just after hurricane Wilma.

 

1401 NW 4th Ave

Boca Raton, FL 33432-1406

Phone: (561) 347-0031

Fax: (561) 393-5326

   
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