News Archive

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

Oct 24, 2019

Jewish Community Services 21st Birthday Flyer

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.

Event Information

Click here to view and print the official flyer.

Date/Time: Sunday, August 12, 2018, 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Location: Kuapa Isle Club House, 156 Opihikao Way, Hawaii Kai, 96825
Click here to view and print directions.

Parking: Parking is available after entering the gated community

Details: Food, gourmet desserts, champagne toast, soft drinks, punch, and beer available, BYO wine if desired.

If you’d like to contribute a gourmet sweet to this event, please contact Michelle Schneider by July 23, 2018 (click here for more details and contact information).

RSVP: August 5, 2018 to Risa Dickson. If you cannot attend, please submit your Roast and/or Toast to Alan or Pam Kosansky.

For more information, contact: Mathew Sgan

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



Upcoming Events

There are no upcoming events at this time.

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