"Between You and Me: Our Stories"
June/July 2014 Rabbi Adam Grossman Says Goodbye
May 2014 Rabbi Micah Greenstein and Judy Ringel discuss volunteerism
April 2014 Rabbi Adam Grossman and Sally Rosenberg discuss Passover
March 2014 Rabbi Katie Bauman and Stacy Kendall discuss conversion to Judaism
Rabbi Micah Greenstein: I am the son of a rabbi from Rhode Island who married a Jewish girl from Alabama. We moved to Memphis when I was 28-years-old and only intended to stay for a few years. Temple Israel is the reason we never left. Our college-age kids were born in Memphis, but it’s at Temple where they were raised – from their pre-school education and weekly Shabbat to Bar and Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation. Sheril and I owe Temple a priceless gift – our children’s positive Jewish identity and love for their synagogue. My vantage point as a Temple rabbi is inspiring. We help so many people at every age and stage of life, and we all do it quietly, without fanfare. Temple’s impact is felt in every corner of Memphis, but less known are the Jewish families and individuals who turn to us every day and night of the year. Those who support Temple do not even know the hundreds of other Jewish families they enable to live a Jewish life. That kind of anonymity is the Temple way and the way it should be. Temple is the place where we savor the simchas, survive the sorrows, and celebrate Jewish life with spirit, passion, and joy. This extraordinary religious community always strives to do the right thing and gives thanks to God for everything.
Sadie Kiel: I love Temple! I love holding the stuffed Torah at Tot Shabbat, walking around the fountain after services, winning cakes at the Purim Carnival, picking my brother up at school in the ELC, and delivering cookies to fire stations for Mitzvah Day. This must be the best Temple in the whole world!
Lucia Kaminsky: As an Argentinean raised in Miami and Los Angeles, I was a little weary of moving to the South, but I was in pursuit of a degree in Music Industry and the University of Memphis offered a fantastic program. I quickly secured an internship with the Recording Academy, the distinguished organization known for the GRAMMY Awards, and expanded my musical knowledge through the legendary community in Memphis. I graduated in 2006 and went to Brazil to help produce a show for Walt Disney Entertainment.
Shortly after the show wrapped, the Executive Director under whom I interned offered me a job and back to Memphis I came. Five years later, I am now the Senior Project Coordinator for the Memphis Chapter and I owe this achievement to the opportunities afforded to me by this city. I came to know Temple Israel only on the High Holy Days when I would quietly sneak into services. Since I have no family in Memphis, it served mostly as a cultural reminder of my childhood. Six months ago, however, my relationship with Temple changed greatly when my father passed away suddenly and I needed somewhere to recite the Mourner's Kaddish. Rabbi Greenstein and Rabbi Grossman quickly noticed my attendance at Shabbat services and provided the kind of support that I thought could only be expected from family. They even got me involved in the social committee for the TI Fellowship Program. What was once a yearly visit now became weekly, and slowly the Temple began to remind me of home; and most of all, my father. For transplants like me, Temple Israel can serve as more than just a spiritual place – it can also be a support system, especially when family is far away
Greg Gruber: It is very hard to put into words what Temple Israel means to our family because it means so much. It is our place of worship; it is the most common symbol of Judaism for our family; it is a place that we have trusted to provide care for and educate our children; it is a community of friends that brought us peace during a tragic event in our lives; it is a place where every time we enter we feel connected to everyone who is there for whatever event we are attending; and most importantly, it is a source of security when we need it the most. Temple Israel may be a large congregation, but it has a close feel to it. Everyone knows everyone by name and our entire congregation is like one big family. The Barbara K. Lipman ELC has also been a major part of our family for the past several years. There is no other place, especially in today’s world, that every time we leave our children there, we feel 100% confident in their safety and care because of the quality of the teachers and staff. The education that our children has received, both academically and religiously, has been of the highest quality and has laid the foundation for the rest of their academic career. The ELC has shown our kids the importance of tzedakah, mitzvah, and not only Jewish values, but LIFE’S values. Brandi was not raised Jewish, however, she has always felt welcomed at Temple Israel, even before her decision to convert. As she was going through the conversion process, Rabbis Greenstein and Grossman made her feel as if they were going through her journey with her. Brandi has said many times, Temple Israel is not a building or a synagogue, it is our “Home.”
Jack Fargotstein: My passion is music, writing and performing. If I were to donate a year of service to any Jewish project, it would definitely be the advancement of Jewish music. I would implement the importance of Jewish music at a young age and hopefully give all kids that are searching for their purpose in life, a reason to be Jewish. As a member on Temple Israel’s Teen Team, I am a part of the Jewish music movement. Every time I walk into a classroom of young kids and lead a song session, I’m not only helping to advance Jewish music, but I’m helping kids connect to their faith in a fun and uplifting way. Being a part of Teen Team the past four years has really enriched my life. I have grown and evolved, not just as a writer and performer, but as a person. My maturity and personal development have transcended all areas of my life. Outside the Jewish arena, in the world of “BigMac Jack,” I have also made a name for myself, not only in my community, but due to social networking, all over the world. Music is what I love to do, and how I give back. Teen Team has given me the opportunity to meet and perform with some of the biggest names in Jewish music. I have learned how to be a song leader and how to connect with people, and especially young kids through music. I have learned the ins and outs of song leading from the best in the business. I believe every Jewish child should have the same opportunities that Temple gave me to learn about Jewish music and the passionate path that it might lead you on. As a child I had a hard time expressing my Judaism in a way that felt appropriate. Upon entering high school and discovering the Teen Team, I felt as if I hit my Jewish “pot of gold.” The idea that I could take my passion for music and songwriting and mix it together with my Judaism was groundbreaking for me. It was essentially the key that opened the door to the beginning of a new Jewish Journey. I plan to take what I have learned from my teacher and mentor, Rabbi Katie Bauman, as well as from the other members of the Teen Team and apply it to my future music and life endeavors. Through Teen Team, I have become a part of the Jewish music movement. This has had a profound impact on my Jewish identity and I would like to spread the love of music to other Jewish kids. My journey is this world will be ever changing. Yet there is no doubt that my love of music, writing and performing will always be a part of my life. And although performing Jewish rap music may seem a little unconventional, at least for the moment I’m being true to myself and that’s the best decision I can ever make. And the chorus goes…” Hava nashira, Shir’ halleluia; Let us sing together, sing halleluia!!!”
Dick Orgel: I went to Sunday School under Rabbi Edelson and was confirmed in 1944. After college I returned to Memphis in 1952. At that time, Temple Boy Scout Troop 25, of which I had been a member ending with the rank of Eagle Scout, was in need of a Scout Master. I served in that position until 1953 when I went to the Army. I resumed my association with Temple’s Troop 25 as Assistant Scout Master when I returned once again in 1955. I worked with the Scouts, seeing my son Billy through to the rank of Eagle Scout, and then ten years later, another son, Seth Zimmerman, also to the rank of Eagle Scout. I remained active in scouting at Temple for 40 years. Scouting, like Judaism, teaches individuals in a non-competitive atmosphere. Through scouting at Temple, I’ve learned skills and values such as leadership (I am a past president of Temple Brotherhood), outdoor skills, love of country, integrity, and social skills, cooperation and collaboration. I have seen six grandchildren through Bar and Bat Mitzvah and all will graduate Sunday School. Temple has been my emotional support these many years. We are only four generations at Temple, but it is our Jewish home and deserves our emotional and financial support.