Join us for tonight’s state-wide event as we share the story of Hanukkah, highlight our Jewish community and state-wide allies, and hear from Jewish Federations of North America about ShineALight; let’s spread the light of the season to dispel the darkness.
The Shine A Light Initiative
Shine A Light is an international initiative to illuminate the dangers of antisemitism through education, community partnerships, workplace engagement, and community advocacy. Shine A Light draws from the inspiration of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, and seeks to catalyze conversations within and across communities so that people will better understand what constitutes antisemitism and take steps to respond.
2022 is the second year Greenville, through Greenville Jewish Federation, is a Shine A Light community. In 2022, it is also the inaugural year that all three Jewish Federations have come together in a coordinated effort.
PJ Library Greenville held two main programs for Hanukkah. On December 10, PJ Library had a Hanukkah event space at The Children’s Museum of the Upstate “World Wonderland” holiday festival and shared the story of Hanukkah with over 900 participants. On December 11, PJ Library hosted the Family Community Hanukkah party at Roller Sports Skating Rink.
Jewish Federations of South Carolina partnered with Southern NCSY to bring the Hate Ends Now tour with the Cattle Car Exhibit back to South Carolina – the exhibit traveled from Greenville, with Chabad of Greenville hosting, to Columbia with the local JCC as a host. The community reactions and participation in the pop-up exhibit were incredible. Our final stop was in Charleston with the Mount Pleasant library.
Locally, on December 15, our featured Shine A Light program with Ana Sazonov, sharing her story as a Ukrainian, was held at First Baptist Greenville.
December 18 was Chanukkah on Main, and Greenville Jewish Federation expresses our collective gratitude to Rabbi Leibel and Musie Kesselman for an incredible program and for partnering with Shine A Light – Greenville Jewish Federation.
Tonight, December 20, is a virtual State-Wide Menorah Lighting – you can register with the button below – Jewish leaders in Greenville, Columbia, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Hilton Head will be represented. We will also share a 15-minute video of state-wide leaders expressing solidarity and allyship with the Jewish community. The program also features a national guest speaker from the Jewish Federations of North America.
On Thursday, December 22, at 6 pm, a story will air locally on FOX news about antisemitism.
Another incredible effort you might not know about happened on December 12, when our local city council members and Mayor Knox White voted unanimously on a City Resolution on the growing problem of antisemitism.
Thank you, Elizabeth Lapidus, Greenville Jewish Federation Community Engagement, for spearheading the initiative.
RESOLUTION NO. 2022-53
A R E S O L U T I O N
SHINING A LIGHT ON THE GROWING PROBLEM OF ANTISEMITISM IN AMERICA, SPECIFICALLY IN GREENVILLE AND SOUTH CAROLINA, AND RECOGNIZING IMPORTANT OUTREACH TOOLS TO ADDRESS IT
Our community is growing and as we spend time with family, friends, and our community, let’s all #ShineALight for love, justice, kindness, compassion, humanity, allyship, and community. Stand united against antisemitism, racism, and all forms of hate.
In my Bellingham congregation there was a small number of members some of whom I didn’t even see on the High Holy Days. Maurice Schwartz, may he rest in peace, was one of them. A gentle but studious man, he struck me as curious as he had a deep affection for Chanukah, in particular menorahs. Were you one of the fortunate few who came to his home, you would see hundreds upon hundreds of menorahs situated in one room. It seemed to me that his affection for the holiday and their religious objects was in stark contrast to his non-observance. It did comport with his career as professor of geology. He dug deeply into the past be it the scientific past or in his own way the religious past. As a onetime digger up of dinosaur fossils I more than related to his curiosity. Even so, I could not fathom his agnosticism and lack of observance until one day when he told me he was married. He asked me to visit his wife whose Alzheimer’s had so progressed that she could not speak, let alone recognize her husband of decades. I cannot begin to describe the hurt he expressed hugging her and crying out “Oh God, why does she still suffer so?” His agnosticism became quite reasonable that day.
Maurice was not alone. He had developed a friendship with a nice lady. Was it platonic, I imagined so, in spite of the gossip? When his wife finally passed on, ever the gentleman he oddly asked me if it was ok for his lady friend come to the funeral. He was concerned about appearances and that some would be critical, wagging their tongue. I became quite angry for him and said something to the effect, “If anyone says anything hold me back I will knock their block off!” She came, I officiated, and all were respectful. In appreciation Maurice gave me a copy of Lyell’s geography, a prized gift. As I prepare to downsize my library (some books are now online when in my earlier rabbinate they were a great acquisition), I have come to see it as an archaeological endeavor. I hold a few books in my hand that I haven’t touched in years, and yet they are so difficult for me to part with. Among them is Maurice’s book which I just don’t know how to give away. It reminds me far too much of his gentle demeanor, his sensitivity, and his embrace of life. It’s only a book, I sometimes think, and then I remember Maurice, and I finally more fully understood his affection for his menorahs.
May the affection that you have for your loved ones and that which connects you to them touch you during this season of light!
Your attendance at our annual congregational meeting is vital so that we can have a quorum and conduct Temple business. A quorum consists of “not less than twenty-five percent of the membership in good standing. A member in good standing shall be deemed one who is not more than six months in arrears of payment dues.” If you have any questions about your status, please contact Susan Abelkop, our Financial Secretary. Only members in good standing may vote or serve on the Board.
I would like to wish each of you a wonderful Hannukah and much happiness as you ring in 2023 on December 31st.
Thank you for your time and support of our congregation. I look forward to seeing you at the congregation meeting and at the Hanukkah Party on December 18.
Thank you to all those who helped make this year’s bake sale a success. We were able to clear over $5,000.
At our meeting on Sunday, we voted to support three charities with donations. We will be sending donations to Mobile Meals, The Soup Kitchen, and to Crystal for the dinners she provides on holidays to the homeless. The bake sale is our only fund raiser for the temple, and we are delighted that we earned these funds from our efforts.
Next year we will begin our baking at the temple in August and will do it on a Sunday and weekday so that some of our newer members can participate. We need to show others how the strudel and butterflies are done. As our congregation has aged, we have lost many of those who began this tradition. It is a fun way to get to know other members, in addition to the work.
You do not have to know how to bake, our experienced bakers will show you the steps and it also becomes a social event as we all work together on different parts of the baking.
As I am sure you know, the Temple needs to replace the roof. Sisterhood is able to donate $25,000.00 toward this major repair.
We will begin again providing for the oneg after services. Nancy Rosenberg will be contacting you for your help. We ask that two people help each of the three Friday’s a month that this is needed. This is not just a Sisterhood thing, but something the entire congregation should support.
The Sisterhood Room does not have an emergency exit. This has become very important for the safety of those using that room. We are going to find a contractor who can install a second way to exit the room in an emergency. It will be expensive, but everyone agreed it was necessary. Thanks to the hard work of current and previous Sisterhood members, we do have savings to use for this.
Again, thank you to all who helped this year, and previous years with our bake sale so that we can help with monies to support projects needed at our temple.