Honey and Poi – Author’s Preface

By Dr. Mathew Sgan

“I read Honey and Poi in one reading. I couldn’t put it down. I especially loved knowing the details of how the schul came into being, who the pioneers were, and the split involving egalitarianism. It is quite an accomplishment and a great service to our community.” – Gayle Goodman

This book has been a labor of love for me from the beginning. Congregation Sof Ma’arav from my perspective deserves all of the accolades which have been associated with it. I enjoyed writing about a group in which I have been an active participant.

For over four decades, Sof has been an educational center, a religious and spiritual guide, a support group, and an uplifting social setting for many who otherwise would have been without such life affirming associations. It has never turned its back on anyone responsive to and in need of the kind of program it had.

My research has included group and individual conversations, document review in the solitude of early morning page turning, and newspaper articles unfurled awkwardly on microfilm at the library. I was looking for information on the setting of Sof’s development, the people who made it happen, and the key factors of its ability to change without losing sight of the cultural vision of its founders.

In order to accommodate such aspiration, I wanted not only to produce this narrative, but also to provide a depository for Sof’s most important written and pictorial history. Hence, there is an accompanying Appendix which I hope readers will peruse. As my efforts increased, I came to see other aspects of this book. I hoped that it would be of interest to other Jewish people in Hawaii and elsewhere who might be responsive to becoming a more active part of their own heritage.

Perhaps, they would say that it was time to investigate what Judaism is really all about and how it will bring deeper meaning to their lives. Perhaps they will say that Sof Ma’arav or another Jewish organization is the kind of religious gathering that they would be pleased to join or initiate in their own community. I realize that is an elaborate hope for such a modest undertaking, but no one should underestimate the creativity of Jewish people.

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