Sof History: Merle Fishlowitz

By Mat Sgan

We called former Sof President Merle Fishlowitz in doing research for our book Honey and Poi: The Origins and Development of Congregation Sof Ma’arav in Honolulu Hawaiʻi. He responded with deep conviction to questions about his relationship to Sof. After leaving Hawaiʻi, Merle felt so strongly about his Sof relationship that he donated the Torah that we use most often for Shabbat and Festival services.

From Honey and Poi

Two-term President Merle Fischlowitz (1986-1988) spoke highly about his Sof experience:

At Sof I learned about Jewish liturgy, prayer structure, and services. … I had never been aware of such matters, and knowing of them contributed to my education. … I learned by doing and by carefully listening to three or four very knowledgeable Sof members.     

When asked about any feeling of disappointment about Sof, former President Fischlowitz remarked:

You have to make sure that there’s not a rotating, but a growing and changing leadership. … When people come in they should know that their contributions will be recognized and that they can become a part of the decision-making process.

Sof members are in luck. Mat has some hard covers ($29.99), soft covers ($19.99), and Appendices ($15.99) of Honey and Poi for you to purchase as gifts (New Year; Chanukah) for yourselves, your children, and grandchildren. They can learn more about the Jewish spirit. That spirit imbued a band of people committed to maintaining Judaism in their lives and the lives of their fellows with the energy and focus to establish Sof Ma’arav out of whole cloth. An amazing story about a lay-led boot strap shul associated with the structure and benefits of a synagogue, the love and support of family, and the learning of a graduate seminar.

Honey and Poi is also available at Amazon.

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