News Archive

Stuart H. Scott: A Tribute

(Dec. 7, 1948 – July 15, 2021)

 By Carolann Biederman & Seth Markow

Stuart was a member of Sof Ma’arav for many years. His son Sean was a Bar Mitzvah at Sof in 2005.



During his struggle with cancer, he joined us at Sof Ma’arav for services and onegs whenever he had the strength to do so. He was often away on the mainland receiving treatments. One memorable Shabbat he spoke from the bimah and said that the love and support he felt from our congregation made all the difference in the world to him.

To his sons, “he was a turbo-hippie who fled his New York roots. He bought agricultural land deep in Palolo Valley more than 25 years ago, and lived a life focused on sustainability. Stuart was gifted with words and a heart too big for his frame.” Exacting in his vision, kind, generous and compassionate, creative and honest, Stuart made an enduring impression on our congregation.

Our hearts go out to Stuart’s two sons, Sean of Boston and Joshua of Honolulu, his siblings Diana and David and his three former wives, especially Rosemary “Rosy” Bak, who helped Stuart with the support he needed to die peacefully at home surrounded by his family.

Stuart’s passion for the environment and his tireless advocacy were inspired by Al Gore’s Climate Project, and from 2008 forward, he traveled the world to speak out about the global climate crisis and ecological economics. As a result, he met with many notable leaders, including Pope Francis.

As his body weakened, Stuart still made time to speak out. His last interview, with Noam Chomsky, was filmed two weeks before he died.

In his own words, “I rally my strength and determination on a daily basis. And the environmental work I do in the world is my raison d’etre, so in that regard I’m doing well, despite my illness. Perhaps my life’s most significant accomplishment is the opportunity I took to introduce Greta Thunberg on the world stage at the UN-sponsored climate negotiations in 2018 in Poland.”

With gratitude for Stuart’s life, may his memory always be for a blessing.

Let’s look back at March 2020 as we move forward in April 2021

March 30, 2021

Message from Sof Congregational President Sandra Z. Armstrong

It is hard to believe how far we have come in a year by using Zoom to keep us together safely during the pandemic. I am not saying that Zoom is the best way to gather, but it was the only way to come together as a congregation to maintain our special “ruach” that we are known for in Hawaiʻi. At first, we were tentative, but as we picked up speed our personalities evolved on the screen. We were able to “facetime” with thirty-six to forty people weekly. The anchor that this method provided was not for everyone. We understood this, but at the time, this was a mechanism to keep an already cohesive group even tighter in some ways. I am humbled to be president of Sof. I receive much help, support and direction from all of you. Together, whether you are on Zoom or not, we sustain and grow the Conservative movement in Hawaiʻi. I am amazed at how much our congregation has accomplished since the start of the pandemic. Let me count the 18 ways: 1). Shabbat on Zoom allows for the interaction of our “snowbirds” and out-of-towners from around the country, Canada, and even Japan. They join us regularly, lead services and read Torah. This deepens our connection to our friends and members who are far away. 2). You can see everyone’s face and their emotions all at once. During the service, when we are muted, we can sing along with the lay leader at the top of our lungs. I particularly go for the Halleluyah in Shachrit as loudly as I can and dancing is also permitted. 3). Our Torah sessions often have fifteen or more participants. We engage in lively discussions that let us time travel with our sages looking back to their ways and moving forward to ours. Within a community, we develop a greater appreciation and deeper understanding of Torah. The interaction is powerful and even after fifty minutes, there is always more to say. 4).Talmud classes with Gregg Kinkley are extraordinary. Gregg is able to place the tractate on the screen to guide us like an arrow right to the point he is making. Whatever our Hebrew backgrounds, we are in awe as we listen to our Rabbis and sages from thousands of years ago speak directly to us. With his animated personality and his passion for Talmud, Gregg instructs us in ways that we never imagined. 5). Prayerbook Hebrew the easy way, and advanced parsha reading, with Lorna Holmes, are striking examples of what can be accomplished when there is a will to do so. Lorna prepares all the documents and sends them to us at the beginning of the week. We then study these assignments and meet after services on Zoom. So far, we have accomplished studying the whole book and are getting ready for a new one. With drive and passion, we keep getting better and better, learning more and more. Now we even surprise ourselves! In addition, Lorna is a brilliant, creative, patient, and devoted teacher of Biblical Hebrew. During her advanced parsha class, we study lines of the weekly Torah portion that she has spent hours preparing for us. The depth gained in reading and understanding the Torah is a true scholarly experience beyond words. 6). We have experienced Shiva minyans for those of us in mourning. We sustained this practice throughout the year by helping our friends with the grief of losing a loved one. Shiva minyans were held for David and Bea Haymer’s mother, Helen Haymer, and a memorial service was held for Arnie and Gale Warshawsky’s brother Eugene. 7). Peter Fritz continues to bake delicious challot with love for our congregation, while joyous pick-ups/drop-offs enhance the experience. 8). We continued to have a weekly service that is lay led. Dina Yoshimi was the first to put us on Zoom on March 21st. Lots of ruach, dancing, joy comes off the screen. Dina hosts while Les Rosenthal and I co-host. Les is also our tech support “go to guy” to call when we need help on Zoom. We have it down to a science now. We are all sharing and balancing our leadership roles like we always do at Sof Ma’arav. The beauty is that we hear many voices on Zoom and not just one voice dominating. There is an easy flow of the service with opportunities to comment in positive ways in between service segments and Torah / Haftarah readers. We have humor, fun, prayers and serious study going on every Shabbat. Our festival special services and holidays like Purim on Zoom have risen to the occasion of being exhilarating experiences. 9). We continue to have a monthly newsletter, thanks to the whole community, as well as Sid Goldstein. We had a special celebration on Zoom to commemorate our 40th newsletter! With lots of emails and notices to the congregation during the pandemic, Sid’s help with communications was a game changer. LynleyShimat Lys continues to do an amazing job with production and beautiful designs. 10). The drive to the Unitarian Church is not a problem (except for the road closures). This year, I didn’t have to hear Les and Don complain about the bumpy road conditions going down the Pali Highway on the way to shul! Although Don is out of work as facility manager, he continues to do an excellent job. 11). Our High Holidays for 5781 were off the charts great. With Rabbi Rosalind joining us from Israel, and our service leadership coordinated by Robert Littman, we came away with a feeling of euphoria that we did it! Also, we had Dina Yoshimi, Gregg Kinkley, Rabbi Ken Aronowitz, Michelle Schneider, Marlene Booth, and Avi Soifer Zoom in from the Unitarian Church on Rosh Hashanah Day two. What an accomplishment and so much of the spirit of Sof Ma’arav and the holiday were present in their voices! 12). We continue to have a Children’s Zoom time during the week on Monday afternoon to keep our special connections going with our younger generation. On these sessions, there are lots of giggles, sharing and Jewish education happening. Our children joined in and sang Ein Keloheinu with their families during a special Shabbat. We all loved this! 13). Our membership remains strong and we gain members despite the pandemic. The inquiry calls and emails were coming in too quickly during the pandemic for the Sof Ma’arav central office to manage (in other words at the Armstrong Hale). Les graciously became our Welcoming Chair (not just our Snowbird Chair). 14). Family Promise: Along with other congregations, Sof members contributed money towards the “new” family promise support for dinners being ordered, picked up and delivered to their housing unit. Enough money was collected as an overflow for this rotation to contribute to the next round of meals. 15). Sof Ma’arav continues to love books. Sally Morgan kept us abreast of new releases from the Levinson-Krupp Library. Our Sof Ma’arav Book Club continues to be led by Carolann Biederman who runs and manages it with extraordinary skill. Two books were published during the pandemic by Sof members. Sid Goldstein’s American Pastimes and Mat Sgan’s Torah and Taro were launched. The creative spirit thrives. 16). We participated with one thousand people through Congregation Kol Emeth in a spectacular Hanukkah celebration. We will be back on with them for Yom Ha’atzmaut & Israeli independence Day on April 14. 17). Fran Margulies continues to keep our drash schedule vibrant. She has no problem filling slots. Drashes at Sof are well researched, intelligent, passionate and often written up in our newsletter. Robert Littman’s drash/lectures included a powerpoint presentation on Zoom. Talk about time traveling! They were phenomenal. 18). Todah rabah to Morris Rabinko as yahrzeit notices go out weekly. Also, yahrzeits are announced twice every Shabbat morning on Zoom. Morris updated the Yizkor book for 5781 for the High Holy Days. Naomi Olstein, as Bikkur Cholim Chair continues to do an excellent job of reaching out to members of our congregation in need of healing. In addition, every Shabbat morning, we say the misheberach prayers for those among us who are ill. We have come a long, long way in a year to maintain connections to each other and to Conservative Judaism. We have turned around a potentially dark situation and found rainbows to brighten any storms along the way. As we continue to address the evolving pandemic situation, we will maintain the same commitment to each other as we move forward. My apologies for not mentioning each and everyone of you for the support and love you provide for Sof Ma’arav.

Sof Elects 2021-2022 Officers, Board, and Committee Members

June 23, 2021 A menorah made of pens

On May 23, the Annual Meeting of the Congregation was held. The Congregations’ Officers, Board Members, and Committee Chairs were chosen for the 2021-2022 Congregational year. All of these people will hold office through June 1, 2022. Officers: Sandra Armstrong         President Morris Rabinko              Vice-President Robert Littman              Treasurer Margie Walkover           Recording Secretary Donald Armstrong         Corresponding Secretary Board Members: Morris Rabinko              Memory Book & Yahrzeit Gregg Kinkley               Ritual Chair, Talmud Chair Daniel Lev                    Gabbai Chair Bernice Littman             President Emerita Fran Margulies              Drash Chair Naomi Olstein               Bikur Cholim Chair Dina Yoshimi                Adult Torah Chair Sid Goldstein                Communications & PR Chair Les Rosenthal               Welcoming Chair Alex Golub                     Children’s Jewish Education Chair Michelle Schneider       Member At Large Committee Chairpersons:       Rabbi Ken Aronowitz     Ritual Advisor Carolann Biederman     Book Club Chair Kay Lorraine                 Family Promise Chair Jessie Weinberger        Oneg Chair Donald Armstrong         Building Facilities Chair Robert Littman              Beit Din & Cemetery Chairs Mat Sgan                      Sof History Chair Sally Morgan                 L-K Library Chair Jay Friedheim                Chevrah Kadisha Chair Beit Din Rabbi Ken Aronowitz, Gregg Kinkley Robert Littman, Dina Yoshimi

Sof Children’s Zoom Class

November 29, 2020

By Sandra Z. Armstrong

Sandra Z. Armstrong, wearing a blue menorah hatChildren’s Zoom Class with Miss Sandy every Monday from 4:30pm to 5:05 PM

The children’s class is up and running on Zoom. Here is what I sent out to parents and grandparents:

Announcing the Class

It has been a few months now and I would like to start up our regular children’s class. I miss the children a lot and I thought it would be a nice time to connect a few weeks before Hanukkah. It will be a 35 minute Zoom every Monday from 4:30pm to 5:05pm beginning this Monday, November 16. I will have a surprise bag, like always, and Jewish content to explore in an exciting way (as I do in the regular Saturday morning classes).

A Follow up on the First Class

Super excited about this class. Last week we talked about Hanukkah, sang the dreidel song together, guessed the surprise bag and I showed them a plate of latkes. I also wore my Hanukkah candle hat (that some copied onto their Zoom backdrop for more fun). We listened to each other and talked about their current school experiences. All the children were terrific on the screen and we had a great time. If you would like to join these classes, please call Sandra. We love zooming away into renewed Jewish worlds to explore for our children.


Sof Leaders Chosen for 2020-2021

July 1, 2020

The annual meeting was held on May 28, 2020. The Congregations’ Officers, Board Members and Committee Chairs were chosen for the 2020-2021 Congregational year. All of these people will hold office through June 1, 2021.


President Sandra Armstrong
Vice President Morris Rabinko
Treasurer Robert Littman
Recording Secretary Margie Walkover
Corresponding Sec. Donald Armstrong

Board Members:

Morris Rabinko Memory Book & Yahrzeit
Gregg Kinkley Ritual Chair, Talmud Chair
Daniel Lev Gabbai Chair
Bernice Littman President Emerita
Fran Margulies Drash Chair
Naomi Olstein Bikur Cholim Chair
Dina Yoshimi Adult Torah Chair
Sid Goldstein Communications & PR Chair
Les Rosenthal “Snowbird” Member Chair
Alex Golub Children’s Jewish Edu. Chair
Michelle Schneider Director At Large

Committee Chairpersons:

Rabbi Ken Aronowitz Ritual Advisor
Carolann Biederman Book Club Chair
Kay Lorraine Family Promise Chair
Jessie Weinberger Oneg Chair
Donald Armstrong Building Facilities Chair
Robert Littman Beit Din & Cemetery Chairs
Mat Sgan Sof History Chair
Sally Morgan L-K Library Chair
Jay Friedheim Chevrah Kadisha Chair

Beit Din Rabbi Ken Aronowitz, Gregg Kinkley Robert Littman, Dina Yoshimi

Jewish Community Services (JCS) 21st Birthday Celebration – November 17, 2019

Oct 24, 2019

Jewish Community Services 21st Birthday Flyer

To Seek Life: Upon My Mother’s Yahrzeit, I Remember

August 28, 2019 By Sandra Z. Armstrong Sandra Z. Armstrong Portrait I was born Sandra Zimmerman, with a ventricular septal defect (VSD) – a hole in my heart. For some born with a VSD, the hole closes naturally. Mine did not. In 1922, Dora Moness Shapiro established Deborah Heart and Lung Center with the motto “There is no price on life.” The surgery would have been $25,000, which my parents could not afford. Deborah Hospital took over the cost, and to this day, patients are charged only through their insurance. Clara Franks, the hospital administrator, lovingly accepted me into the hospital. The surgery was performed by legendary cardiac surgeon Dr. Charles Bailey. At that time, this specific type of surgical procedure had a 50-percent rate of success. Dr. Bailey, a pioneer in his field and an intrepid physician believed that surgery could be performed on the heart just as any other muscle in the body. Time Magazine Cover Dr. Charles Bailey Although he faced much criticism among his colleagues at the time, today Dr. Bailey is considered the father of direct heart surgery. In fact, it was he who performed New Jersey’s very first heart surgery at Deborah. I was number eight in the line-up of this pioneering effort. On March 23, 2019, I celebrated the 60th anniversary of my surgery. I went back to Browns Mills, New Jersey on June 27 to give a speech at their Grand Rounds for fifty doctors and surgeons. I thanked them for my life. I told them that I am now a walking antique of Deborah’s achievements. I gratefully absorbed the unconditional love that went out to both my distraught mother and me for a month before the surgery and a month after. The staff, the doctors, the nurses took care of us because they cared, and they cared no matter who you were or where you came from. In my speech, I thanked the physicians for my life, as I stood living and breathing before them at that moment. I described the day of the surgery which remained crystal clear to me even though I was only five at the time. Why didn’t I die? I knew that I had a 50/50 chance at life or death. I was a child, but I wasn’t ignorant. I was shocked one day when I overheard the doctor telling my mother the grim facts: “The operation has a 50 percent success rate, if we don’t do the surgery, she will die within the year.” I remember lying on the gurney and saying a final goodbye to my mother. Her grief overwhelmed me. What did I comprehend at five? I was happy, but I thought how little I knew about life. I had lived for five years, and if I were to die, what would I miss? What would my future be like? I was not old enough to imagine what lay ahead. I understood that this could be the end. I wanted to live for my mother. As I lay on the operating table, I prayed. Although not having much knowledge of God, I instinctively knew somehow that a greater good existed. Sandra Z. Armstrong and FamilyI had nowhere else to turn. To my right and my left stood doctors and nurses while scary man-made equipment loomed over my head—men, women, and machinery that would save my life. “If I could live, God, then my mother won’t have to suffer. My death will destroy her. What would become of her, if I were to die?” It was a child’s cry of love for my mother because that was the deepest love I knew. My voice was heard, and my prayers were answered. As I drifted off to sleep with the anesthesia, I did not go into the operation alone. I was not put to sleep until I knew that I would live. How is that possible? I cannot explain it, but God answered my prayers. My mother’s presence sustained me through my illness, surgery and recovery. Her love and devotion caused me to seek life. Dr. Bailey’s fearless spirit lives on at Deborah. Highly specialized physicians eagerly embrace the most advanced diagnostic techniques and treatments for the benefit of their patients. As a result, they successfully treat patients’ other medical institutions cannot, and are routinely sought after to run clinical trials, evaluate and utilize potentially new medical devices, procedures and medications. I dedicate this article to my mother in memory of her Yahrzeit on Tammuz 29, which corresponds to sundown, July 31. ——– Letter from Dr. Bailey to Sandy Dear Sandy, Thank you so much for your lovely letter. Your happy life with your husband and three children makes an older doctor feel that he was of some good after all. Of course, Deborah is a wonderful place. Just imagine how many people they have helped. As to yourself, I am confident that the hole in your heart is thoroughly closed, healed over. It will never trouble you again. Do help Deborah whenever you can.  It is one of the great health centers of America – perhaps in the world. My very warmest wishes, Charles P. Bailey, MD March 1993 See Sandra’s website for more information.

Mazal Tov! – Amira’s Wedding

August 12, 2019 By Marlene Booth Amira Booth Soifer Wedding ChuppahLet me set the stage. Our daughter Amira wanted to get married at Raananah, a very small Jewish  bungalow colony, originally Labor-Zionist, in New York state, in which Avi’s family spent time every summer since the late 1930s. Raananah, the Hebrew word for “young, tender, fresh,” was founded by idealistic Jewish immigrants from Russia and Poland who wanted to spend their summers living communally, in a limited way, and raising their children in the fresh air with other Jewish children. They created a setting in which speaking Hebrew and Yiddish and engaging in political arguments long into the night was normal. Raananah was connected to Israel in many ways, and David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir were among its many visitors. Avi’s mother, Ahuva, whom many of you know, and who is still going strong at 98, spent time during her late teens in Raananah. Avi and his siblings, joined by Marlene, and then our children, Raphi and Amira, all enjoyed summer relaxation, swimming, playing ball, chasing fireflies, walking by themselves on Raananah’s paths, and being among family and friends. Unlike other bungalow colonies in which bungalows were rented by different people, Raananah voted in members – 39 families – who bought a bungalow and returned to Raananah’s bucolic 40 acres every summer. If you want to know more about Raananah, you might check out a film I made about it in the late 1970s, available on DVD in the Temple Emanuel library. For now, suffice it to say that Raananah, located about an hour’s drive north of “The City,” outside a small town called Highland Mills, NY, is far from Honolulu in many ways. Planning a wedding from this distance proved challenging, particularly because of Raananah’s rural setting. Amira Booth Soifer Wedding PartyWhat could not be planned was the weather. For 4 ½ days before Amira’s wedding, it rained. The grounds of Raananah, where we planned to install a tent for the reception, were soaked. What to do to prevent our friends and family from slipping and sliding in the mud? Haul in hay? Put down wooden planks? Miraculously, at about noon the day before the wedding, it stopped raining. The sun came up, the ground dried, and the day of the wedding turned out to be gorgeous. Booth Soifer FamilyAmira, who works as a high school English teacher in Jackson Heights, Queens married a wonderful Irish/Italian man, Al Esposito, who works doing quality assurance for computer software programs, whom she met through online dating several years ago. Though Amira worried that the wedding we jointly planned would be too exotically Jewish for Al’s family, they were among the first to head to the dance floor to dance the hora. The bride looked lovely, if I do say so myself, the groom handsome, and the mood of the day was joyous. Our son, Raphi, who taught this year at a university in Rio de Janeiro, where he has lived for the past 10 years, served as Amira’s “brides-man,” and also MC’d the reception with warmth and humor. Avi, a confirmed non-dancer, nonetheless danced with his daughter, who is Avi’s height, and the two looked very happy. Soifer FamilyI had the honor and genuine pleasure of co-officiating the wedding, as I’ve had ample training at Sof leading a service, with Amira’s college friend, Chirag, a software engineer and sometime stand-up comic, who made us all laugh with his descriptions of Amira and Al’s courtship and his longing for a relationship of his own. We loved celebrating with our siblings, cousins, and friends from our years in Boston, and we look forward to bringing Amira and Al to Hawaiʻi, when they have time, to celebrate their love and optimism with our Sof family and friends.

An Ocean of Knowledge

May 29, 2019 By Sandra M. Z. Armstrong The ocean was calm today. Waves gently rolled back to meet those coming forward. How much are our lives like this? We often look backwards into our past for the strength to move forward again. The ocean changes minute to minute like our lives. We are forever adjusting. When the water gets murky, we can’t get a clear view. When the waves crash upon us, we stay with our faith that God will see us through. When another wave hits, we hold onto our faith in the greater good of mankind and ourselves. We seek the peaceful ebb and flow and yet sometimes it is too hard to overcome the hurdles, jump the waves and land on our feet in the silky sand. We know that better days are ahead. Days when it is easier to float, swim, paddle and surf in the joy of the water that surrounds us. Beach Header  

The State of The Shul Remarks

Mar 3, 2019

By Sandra Z. Armstrong

Aloha Everyone, As your newly elected president, I present this list of Sof endeavors and “shout outs” since our annual meeting on May 25, 2018. It has been a very busy year to be president because Sof Ma’arav is a shul that never sleeps! I continue to be amazed and forever proud of our accomplishments. But this is not about me, it is about all of you out there who contribute to this newsletter, come to Sof Ma’arav services, welcome the strangers from near and far, open their homes to our “snow birds,” become new Torah readers and cheer your friends on, make special dishes for our potluck onegs or bring something special from home, actively engage in Torah / Talmud / Hebrew studies, support our local Jewish community in many ways, and go with the flow of Shabbat throughout the week in preparation for the next Shabbat when we will be together again. Sandra Z.

Presidential Remarks & Thoughts:

*Our Newsletter/Website is great thanks to Sid and Lynley.

*Sid is reaching out to many Sofers to send in submissions.

*Lynley’s designs are exceptional.

  *We have new memberships since High Holidays and are asking everyone

to join in outreach to the unaffiliated Jewish community. This

includes Hefcibah’s outreach to military families.

  *Dina’s launching of the extraordinary service at Temple Emanu-El for the

victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

  *Torah/Talmud interactive enthusiasm; New Torah readers taking off.

*Gregg has taken Talmud to new horizons.

*Lorna’s exciting Intermediate Parsha reading group after services.

  *Daniel and Robert’s expert leadership on the bimah as Gabbaim.   *Jessie’s commitment to our supplies and our delicious

weekly Onegs.

*Smooth Oneg set up and take down thanks to Nani.

 Thank you to Naomi for finding her.

  *Fran’s watching over our drash schedule and securing

 very good volunteers.

  *New “service leaders” are currently studying.   *Ongoing, joyous children’s classes every Shabbat with Sylvia

our great babysitter.

*We have a need for a new board position to represent

 parents with children.

  *Les Rosenthal’s idea and commitment to monthly Shabbat dinners.   *Rabbi Rosalind coming back for High Holidays.   *An amazing T”U B’Shevat Seder led by Dina.   *Anti-Defamation League, Shaun Kozolchyk coming to Oahu

April 7-9.

  *The service for Holocaust Remembrance Day will be held

at Temple E on May 2.

  *Marlene and Avi represented us at the JCS dinner as honorees

of the year.

  *We participate in Family Promise and thank you to Kay for

her leadership.

  *Honey & Poi is now on sale; this is Mat’s huge accomplishment.   *Sof’s support of the Temple E library with news from Sally,

Deborah and Charlotte.

  *Carolann’s leadership in the book group and its continuous popularity.   *Morris updating the Yahrzeit lists, and aligning them in our

memory book. He also sends out reminder emails.

  *Don as facility manager maintaining our relationship with the Unitarians.

Aloha, Lynley

Dec 23, 2018 by Sid Goldstein Lynley Shimat Lys has accepted the position of Webmaster & Newsletter Compiler for Sof Ma’arav. Lynley is a Ph.D. student at the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa and is working toward a degree in Creative Writing. L has a B.A. from UC Berkeley in Comparative Literature (Hebrew, Russian, and English), and an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where L made Aliyah and lived in Jerusalem for several years. Lynley also has an MFA in Poetry and Literary Translation (Hebrew, Arabic, and Ukrainian) from Queens College in New York City. During that time L taught Hebrew school for Temple Beth Emeth in Brooklyn. Here in Honolulu, Lynley serves as editor-in-chief of Hawai‘i Review arts journal at UH Mānoa. L has been affiliated with the Orthodox and Conservative movements and prefers multi-denominational spaces, havurah and community led congregations. Lynley is very pleased to serve as our webmaster and newsletter compiler. You will see Lynley at our Shabbat services from time to time. L attended the first night of Rosh Hashanah and very much enjoyed the experience. Please join me in welcoming Lynley to our Sof Ohana.

Jewish Community Services Annual Dinner Honors Marlene Booth and Avi Soifer

Dec 11, 2018

by Carolann Biederman

     On Sunday, November 4, 2018, Jewish Community Services celebrated its twentieth year of service to the community with 150 guests at the Pacific Club. The Annual Dinner honored the 2018 Volunteers of the Year — ten amazing people, representing six different congregations.   Avi Soifer and Marlene Booth were the official honorees from Congregation Sof Ma’arav, and several of the other honorees also have ties to Sof, past and present: Bob and Marilyn Landis                         Aloha Jewish Chapel Yosef and Devorah Morgan                   Chabad of Hawaii (aka Steve and Donna Morgan) Joseph Narrowe                                    Jewish Congregation of Maui Harvey and Lynne Rackmil                    Oahu Jewish ‘Ohana Ruth Freedman                                     Temple Emanu-El   Rabbi Ken Aronowitz from Temple Emanu-El and Rebbitzen Pearl Krasnjansky of Chabad offered reflections and prayers for the Jewish lives lost in Pittsburgh, a tragedy which was on everyone’s minds.   JCS is a community builder that brings together the whole Jewish community as no other group can. A variety of people from all walks of life in Hawaii come together at the dinner to celebrate their shared Jewish religion and traditions as well as our diversity.   The mission of JCS is to support and enhance the quality of life of those in need of help in the Hawaii Jewish community by providing appropriate social services.   Services include counseling, information and support for clients in time of crisis, need, life changes and transitions, as well as with cash assistance and financial management. JCS also helps people who can afford assistance but don’t know where to turn, especially in times of stress, illness and challenge. Marlene Booth says:   “It was wonderful being honored by JCS and a special treat to meet our fellow honorees. Especially in the wake of the shooting in Pittsburgh, it was really moving to come together as a community that speaks Jewish in many voices and values each other. That we are able to create Jewish community so far from any center of Jewish life inspires and gives me hope.”   Photography by Arnie Warshawsky

Prayers for Pittsburgh Service – President Sandra Armstrong’s Opening Speech

Nov 14, 2018 November 1st, 2018 – The Prayers for Pittsburgh Service was held at Temple Emanu-El with approximately 300 in attendance including representatives of congregations across Oahu. It was described as “A gathering for members of the Oahu Jewish and other faith communities to pray for the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting and their loved ones as well as to show support for the Jewish community of Pittsburgh.” The Ceremony was opened by Sof Ma’arav President Sandra Armstrong. Here is a copy of her remarks: “Sarah’s lifetime-the span of Sarah’s life-came to one hundred and twenty-seven years. This week’s Torah portion is Chayei Sarah, which translates as the lifetime of Sarah. The title is her life. Just as we mourn our friends in Pittsburgh, it is their loss of living and breathing on earth that we mourn and yet we honor their lives. In honoring their lives, they still live among us. What can we do in our grief over the senseless killing of our innocent friends gathered together for this weekly Shabbat Shachrit service? They were simply living their lives as Shabbat regulars to make a minyan of ten, to pray to G-d, to be part of a community. Tonight we can gather together and speak of our nation’s incredible loss. Yet, we can do one more thing to make our world a better place. We can affiliate, get involved, and become active members of a religious congregation. This is what our friends in Pittsburgh died doing. As their precious spirits remain with us, what can we do, as humans, merely earthly creatures, to fix this enormous, gut-wrenching wound to our people, the nation, and to the world. Make a difference, stand up and be counted, honor those who were simply doing what they do best going to synagogue, a safe place to pray. They were mensches  – people of integrity and honor. They were the mainstays of their congregation. They came to the earlier morning service to be part of their community. If you want to change our world and the religious island life of so many congregations start now.  Join in and make your voice be heard because our friends were killed doing what we have an opportunity, the freedom, the hope and the promise to fulfill here in Hawaiʻi. To create a more positive, more proactive, more solid community and stand up and say, I am going to be counted as a member of my faith and I will become a part of this right here in this place, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – because the need is great and because I am needed. Let’s dig deep in our souls and maintain the Yiddishkeit in the state of Hawaiʻi by being a part of something bigger than ourselves. Make a difference to others. When Jewish Community Services of Hawaiʻi comes knocking on your door to help the needy among us, respond to them. Sign up for Family Promise because these are all good people that are trying their best to get back on their feet again. Become a mentor and help educate our children in a religious school. Today is a day to make a commitment to honor our faith in G-d, to honor all those who came before us and to retain the remnants of Judaism in this place that we call home Hawaiʻi. To carry on today what our friends who were murdered can no longer do. We can take our forefathers’ history of Sarah our matriarch and Abraham our patriarch from thousands of years ago. And continue the future of understanding what it means to live a life of giving back to others. We have the power and the opportunity to change our lives for the better within a community. The campaign across the mainland to show our solidarity as a people for this week is SHOW UP FOR SHABBAT This is a very good idea.”

A Tribute to Donald Armstrong

Aug 2, 2018 Contributed by Mat Sgan Congregation Sof Ma’arav is hosting a Roast and Toast celebration as an expression of thanks to Don Armstrong. This event will take place on Sunday, August 12, 2018 from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM at Kuapa Isle Club House, 156 Opihikao Way, Hawaii Kai, 96825. There will be enough food and drink to have dinner. Children are welcome. For the past decade, Don has led Sof Ma’arav through some of its most productive years. He has fostered major accomplishments, including establishing Abraham’s Garden at the Hawaii Memorial Park Cemetery, leading adult Jewish education classes, encouraging the Sof History Project, launching the new Sof website and newsletter, preparing frequent Torah readings and drashes, promoting participation in the interfaith community of Hawaii, and working toward uniting the Jewish organizations of Hawaii. He has eloquently led prayers for our country, Israel, and peace. That list is not complete, nor does it mention the many day-to-day tasks that Don has performed. He and Sandy have opened their home for Shabbat and festival services on many occasions. As facilities manager, he has maintained our close relationship with the Unitarian Church and made Sof run smoothly. He has done a million schlepps. He has opened the shul and arranged and fixed things that require attention. These acts often go unnoticed and unrecognized. Sofers and others have helped him in all these matters, but it has been his leadership that kept matters moving toward success. So, in the spirit of the party shul, bring your best smile and words to this Roast and Toast Don Armstrong event. We have asked some folks to prepare songs, poems, and prose to present at the celebration. We hope others will email, text, and USPS their thoughts to us. Come prepared to have a good time in the Congregation Sof Ma’arav tradition.

Talmud Shiurim at Sof Maarav

Aug 1, 2018 Contributed by Gregg Kinkley

An hour before we start our prayers, (Invoking names like Abe and Sara), Earnest study of the layers Of our tradition, through Gemara, Commences ‘round the hour of nine; A guided tour of divine And often thought-provoking mirth: Come learn how study’s wisdom’s birth!

For well over a decade now, a small band of devoted Sof scholars have met before prayer services on “every other” Shabbat to discuss Talmud. They are learning to appreciate the sources and interpretation of our great faith. Talmud, far from being a dry, overly-detailed, or needlessly argumentative chore, turns out to be an important, enlightening, and entertaining part of revelation. Who knew; nu? We do not plow through the Talmud volume by volume or follow crucially selected sugyot (Talmudic topics). We learned over time what methods of legal inference are available from the Talmudic toolbox, becoming more comfortable with technical terms, such as kal v’chomer. binyan av, gezeirah shavah, hekeish, smukhah, and klal u’frat. We learned how they are used, when we are permitted to use them, and to what end. This was a path of study which, though daunting, helped us understand the “code” which needs to be mastered in order to fully appreciate what the Talmud has to offer us. More recently, our study has taken a new approach: Armed with an incremental sophistication from our study of the tools mentioned above, we have plunged into the study of Talmudic material dealing directly with the topics posed by the weekly parashah. In this way we have combined the Torah shiur sessions we enjoy every other Shabbat with our Talmud shiur: “Talmud Torah,” so to speak. Under this approach, we have looked more deeply into selective topics. These include: the mechanics and significance of the Azazel ritual, the nature of the sins of Nadav and Avihu, the rabbinic disfavor with which the bitter waters test of the Sotah ritual is held, and currently (inspired by the Balak and Pinchas parashyot) we are learning the parameters of the disturbing sanction of violence and “breaking of the covenant of peace” as set forth in the Zimri and Cozbi story. The study of such a complex compendium of lore as the Talmud will naturally appear to present great challenges, especially for the beginner, yet it has something to say to everyone in any circumstance. Aware of the linguistic, legal, and historical barriers to receiving the full message of the Talmud, special care is taken to guide all students along the road to a better understanding and appreciation of this central document of our Yiddishkeit. Other groups have taken our Tanakh, in whole or in part, and tried to make it a part of their tradition. The Talmud, however, is uniquely Jewish, and represents the best of what we have to offer the world and ourselves. Zil g’mor!!  

“Madame President” Sandra Armstrong Chosen by the Board

May 30, 2018  

Sandra Armstrong President of Sof Ma'arav

Sandra Armstrong is selected as Sof’s New president. Torah Chair Dina Yoshimi, holding her magic Etrog, congratulates her.

Sandra Z. Armstrong is the new President of Sof Ma’arav. She was selected as part of the slate that was approved by the Congregation Board of Directors at the Annual Meeting on May 25. There are several changes to the officers and the Board for the 2018-2019 term. Morris Rabinko has been selected as Congregation Vice-President. The new slate of officers, the new Board and standing Committee Chairs, are listed below.   The Officers for this term are as follows:

Officer Position Designee
President Sandra Armstrong
Vice President Morris Rabinko
Treasurer Robert Littman
Recording Secretary Margie Walkover
Corresponding Secretary Donald Armstrong


Board Designee
Welcome/Membership Hefcibah Martin
Memory & Yartzeheit Morris Rabinko
Ritual/Talmud Gregg Kinkley
Gabbai Chair Daniel Lev
President Emerita Bernice Littman
Drash Fran Margulies
Bikur Cholim Naomi Olstein
Adult Torah Dina Yoshimi
Communications/PR Sid Goldstein
“Snowbird” (Mainland Members) Les Rosenthal
At-Large Michelle Schneider

  The Board of Directors consists of 15 people. Listed below are the Committee Chairs:

Standing Committees Chairperson
Ritual Advisor Ken Aronowitz
Book Club Carolann Bierderman
Family Promise Kay Lorraine
Adult Education Donald Armstrong
Oneg Jesse Weinberger
Children’s Jewish Education Sandy Armstrong
Sof History Project (SHP) Mat Sgan
Library Sally Morgan


Shabbat Times