web analytics
August 22, 2014 / 26 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Miami Beach Memoirs

Front-Page-061314

We arrived in the oppressive summer heat and humidity of Miami Beach in July 1964. We moved into a very small, three-bedroom house – with no air conditioning – about six blocks from Congregation Beth Israel. The children soon made friends and happily played outdoors all day. Jackie slipped seamlessly into the role of rebbetzin, and everyone immediately loved and appreciated her.

Many wealthy Jews from all over North America wintered in Miami Beach. In the pre-condo days, large kosher hotels accommodated these visitors. Several owners of these hotels were active members of my shul. They encouraged their guests to attend our synagogue, especially for Shabbat services.

The winter visitors – many very important and well known in the Jewish world – flocked to the synagogue, as did newcomers to our neighborhood. Seating was rapidly becoming scarce.

Heaven helped Congregation Beth Israel. Our shul was located within a strip mall. On the corner was a large supermarket, part of an expanding chain owned by a wealthy Miami Beach Jew. The supermarket decided to purchase and demolish the entire strip in order to increase parking. After all the store owners had sold out to the supermarket, its lawyer invited the synagogue’s officers to a meeting to finalize the purchase of our leasehold.

In anticipation of this windfall, the congregation borrowed money and purchased a house and lot across the street, where we planned to move. Our board of directors had appointed a committee of three to negotiate with the supermarket. For some reason, these three very accomplished businesspeople took me along to the meeting as well.

The board had instructed them to demand the appraised value of our lease, which was $35,000 to $40,000. As we drove to the meeting, these experienced businessmen began discussing the negotiation. After a long deliberation, they agreed that $50,000 would be a windfall for the congregation.

At the meeting, the supermarket’s lawyer was very curt and cold. He told us we were holding up a very important move for the supermarket and bluntly asked us, “How much do you want for your lease?”

One committee member, searching for a starting point in the negotiation process, blurted out, “Seventy-five thousand dollars!”

“Done!” said the lawyer without hesitation. “It’s a deal.”

We now had enough funds to build a new synagogue, and we hired a brilliant architect who designed a building that was both striking and functional. Its roof was of draped concrete, recalling the curtained roof of the Mishkan in the desert. The sanctuary, round and beautiful, was surrounded with exquisite stained glass windows. The women’s balcony was delicate and practical, with good sight lines.

The building contained classrooms, a kitchen, a social hall, offices for the rabbi and the synagogue secretary, and a fine chapel/bet midrash, also decorated with impressive stained glass windows.

Once the building was up, the synagogue was filled every Shabbat, and my extensive classes were also very well attended. I continued my daily Talmud classes and initiated a weekly Jewish history class for women.

Our children adjusted very well to Miami Beach and the Hebrew Academy. They all had friends, many less observant than we were. We always impressed upon our children that they should not be overly impressed or influenced by what their friends or classmates did or said. We didn’t judge how others spoke, dressed, or behaved. We allowed our children freedom and relied on their good judgment, while laying down a code of behavior that they understood and adhered to pretty much ungrudgingly.

To enrich my son’s Torah studies, I formed an after-school “hockey league” that met in the synagogue. After the boys played and had refreshments, I studied Talmud with them. I also conducted Shabbat afternoon Mishnah classes for the boys of the synagogue at my home, rewarding their attendance with candy.

About the Author: Rabbi Berel Wein is an internationally acclaimed scholar, lecturer and writer whose audiotapes on Torah and other Jewish subjects have garnered a wide following, as have his books, which include a four-volume series on Jewish history. Formerly an executive vice president of the Orthodox Union and rabbinic administrator of the OU’s kashrus division, he founded Yeshiva Shaarei Torah of Rockland in 1977 and moved to Israel in 1997.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Miami Beach Memoirs”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Photo: Rotter.net / Tikonist
Live Updates: Ashdod Shul Hit by Rocket (Latest Update: 5:28 pm)
Latest Indepth Stories
Charles Krauthammer

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

David_Grossman

Blaming Israel for the violence in Gaza, he ends up justifying Hamas’s terrorism.

488px-WielkaSynagoga3_Lodz

In the Thirties it was common for anti-Semites to call on Jews to “go to Palestine!”

Netanyahu-Obama-030212

Obama never hid his contempt for the Israeli government or the majority of Israel’s voters.

“This arbitrary ban is an ugly stain on our democracy, and it also undermines the rule of law.”

We take US “aid” for psychological reasons-if we have an allowance, that means we have a father.

ZIM Piraeus isn’t Israeli-owned or flagged, incidentally, it is Greek operated.

Foolish me, thinking the goals were the destruction of Hamas thereby giving peace a real chance.

The free-spirted lifestyle didn’t hold your interest; the needs of your people did.

And why would the U.S. align itself on these issues with Turkey and Qatar, longtime advocates of Hamas’s interests?

Several years ago the city concluded that the metzitzah b’peh procedure created unacceptable risks for newborns in terms of the transmission of neo-natal herpes through contact with a mohel carrying the herpes virus.

The world wars caused unimaginable anguish for the Jews but God also scripted a great glory for our people.

We were quite disappointed with many of the points the secretary-general offered in response.

Judging by history, every time Hamas rebuilds their infrastructure, they are stronger than before.

His father asked him to read Psalms from the Book of Tehilim every day.

More Articles from Rabbi Berel Wein
The seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson

This book is more than just a biography of one of the leading figures in the Jewish world of the past century.

Front-Page-061314

My primary interest was in providing for my community, both spiritually and physically.

“When we landed in Beijing, a Chinese army captain and soldier, weapons drawn, boarded the plane and swiftly collected all passports. Since we had no entry visas to China, we were summarily hauled off the plane and marched to the terminal…”

The Holocaust and the rise of Israel occupy no space or time in many Orthodox schools.

There is an old rabbinic anecdote about a rabbi who was called on to deliver a eulogy for someone who had no redeeming social value whatsoever. The rabbi was hard pressed to think of anything positive to say about this person. So when he spoke he solemnly pronounced: “No matter how evil the deceased truly was, he was still a far better person than was his brother!”

The most dreaded status in Israeli society is to be considered a frier – a sucker, a boob, stupid and unable to withstand being taken advantage of.

It will take a major change of mindset in the religious world before we are able to face down the extremists and not merely be silent in the face of such desecration of the Torah and God’s holy name.

All societies survive through the retention of customs and traditions. If ritual law, halacha and Torah observance are the keystones of Jewish existence, the customs and traditions of Israel are the chain that has kept Israel bound to the Torah and its laws and values. The rabbis called the customs and traditions of Israel “the lessons of your mother” – in contrast and at the same time complementing “the teachings and disciplines of your father.”

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/miami-beach-memoirs/2014/06/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: