Sofʻer Profiles

Witness to a Mitzvah

by Fran Margulies

December 31, 2021

I travelled to Boston last month for my grandson’s Bar Mitzvah. One bonus was watching his older brother Nadav join in a “Unified” basketball game. Why the name Unified? The league unifies students from all over Boston, and it unifies Special Needs students with general education students. In season, Nadav will be a team member at Newton North High, and he joins club basketball in the off season. He also revels in these thrice weekly Unified games. The gym was rocking! Cheerleaders were leaping, bleachers were filled. Teams combined Special Needs kids equally with the general education students, and it really worked. Some rules were modified. A player could walk with the ball if need be, but the ref called outs and gave penalties. Action was fierce, running was constant, and when Special Needs children made their baskets, it brought tears to my eyes. It was all so usual, and yet, so remarkable.


A Thanksgiving Ode-let to Peter Fritz

by Fran Margulies

November 30, 2021

A loaf of challah on a wood platterSing high our praise of Peter
This Thanksgiving Day

For crowning all our Shabbat morns
His skillful, faithful way…..

When Torah service ends
His golden challot wait,

Home baked loaves
For Sofers to anticipate..!

Sesame or poppy seed,
Maybe raisin too?

Our cup is raised; we break our bread…
And gratefully add our thanks to you!


Stock Car Racer

A Profile of Sof’s Jessie Weinberger by Fran Margulies

November 1, 2021

Who would have guessed that Jessie Weinberger, our longtime (45 years!) Sof member and faithful Oneg Chair, quietly chanting Shabbat services from her corner seat by the window, had a glorious other life of noise and speed? For ten years (until 9/11 ended competition here) Jessie actively raced her sports cars, first a Mitsubishi Eclipse and then later a Plymouth Lazer.

The lure of the track, the challenge of maneuvering through an obstacle course, the speed, the pure fun of it all, went way back in Jessie’s life. Recess time in her Spring Valley NY high school would find Jessie hanging out near the guys, fascinated by their car talk. Relaxing in college meant watching the car races on TV’s Wide World of Sports. But it was not until coming to Hawaiʻi in 1975 for graduate school that her sports car hobby really took off. By lucky chance, Honolulu was then in the midst of its own romance with racing cars. It had started humbly on a small muddy car track around midtown Honolulu Stadium. But in 1962 Jimmy Pflueger opened Hawaiʻi Raceway Park at Barber’s Point.  Car racing had come to Hawaiʻi!

Jessie arrived here in 1975 for graduate school. She took a job, working as an evidence specialist at the old Beretania Street Police Station, but car racing was all the rage, and Jessie decided to go for it!! She traded in the old station wagon that accompanied her move from New York. She bought a racer, a sweet 4-seater Mitsubishi Eclipse. Competitions beckoned! “Stock Cars” was her racing class. That meant races between ordinary cars straight out of the stock room with no souped-up additions except for tougher tires.

In the following years Jessie helped organize races, drove her own car through mile-and-a-half courses, won her trophies, placing first one memorable day. A highlight was an all-day driving demo for the military brass where she and her friends proudly displayed their skills. She eventually replaced her Mitsubishi Eclipse with a Plymouth Laser. She was enjoying a wonderful ten years. Jessie was the complete auto crosser: Beneath the glamour was the support work. On the fields she was the one who set out the cones and the sensors; she competed in the “handling” trials. She did the scoring. She also kept standards high by checking and sitting in with the “baggers,” cheaters suspected of fiddling with their dials.

Life intruded. Her mother in a wheelchair needed a station wagon, not a sports car. Goodbye to the Plymouth Lazer. A bad fall at work ruined Jessie’s kneecap. Then chronic tendonitis and a bout with cancer interfered. But our Jessie is one tough survivor. We can see that on our Shabbat mornings when she buses all the long way back and forth from Ewa to take part in the Sof service and to sit quietly by the window, watching the swaying palm leaves.


Meetups with Sofers

Welcome Committee with Les Rosenthal

A Special Welcoming Visit

March 1, 2021

by Les Rosenthal

As a member of our Sof Ma’arav Welcoming group, I get to meet tenured, new and prospective members of our close-knit community. Last week I had the wonderful pleasure of calling and introducing myself to Nathalie and her three kids. After a busy Shabbat, Nathalie and her carload drove over the Pali to our Kailua Beach Hale for a bit of a ‘get to meet’ you. We walked the 240 steps down to the beach where Mia quickly made friends with a kindred 6-year-old spirit who lives across the street AND their dog, definitely a double bonus!

Grace and Alexie enjoyed watching all the socially distanced beach goers, kite surfers and boogie boarders. Afterward, my visiting daughter Katie took my Porsche and a very interested Alexie out in the top-down convertible to pick up pizza. The furthest away I could order a pizza and expect to see dinner within an hour or two was Enchanted Lakes. So off they went, both happy with the errand and the circumstances. While they were gone Nathalie was given a full showing of Pat’s many handiworks. Nathalie is highly educated and experienced in the fine arts and was justly appreciative of my wife’s creativity. As those of you who have been to our home know, Pat and Nathalie could be touring a while. If you haven’t been here yet, when you come, you’ll see that Pat, is, and has been, very productive as well as creative!

When the pizza came vrooming back, we all sat down and ate heartily. The best pizza on Oʻahu is always fully savored and consumed. Tonight was no exception. The conversation was lively and loud.  We finished off our gourmet meal with vanilla ice cream and a lot of smiles. Hopefully, Nathalie, Alexie, Grace and Mia will be around us for a long time to come. She’s looking for a full-time teaching position (hint, hint, hint). These are wonderful people and you too should make the opportunity to meet them.


Breakfast with Fran

February 10, 2021

by Les Rosenthal

Last newsletter I wrote about sharing the 5th night of Chanukah with Risa and Linda. You may recall that after the candle lighting we had potluck shared dinner and played our favorite card game, called ‘Phase 10.’ In the article, I mentioned that Pat and I enjoy small group company and would be willing to teach or play the game with healthy congregants. Just ask, I said.

To our delight, Fran did! However, navigating the Pali to come visit us in Kailua was just outside Fran’s comfort zone, but being innovative and flexible, she invited us to her home for morning eats and Phase 10. Happily, Pat and I went on Sunday, January 3rd.

The Pali Highway drive is always beautiful but since we weren’t in a hurry, Pat and I drove around the Waimanalo to Hawaii Kai way for an even more beautiful drive. Not surprisingly, Fran was a very gracious host. We toured her home, talked story, and met her daughter Laura, a very handsome grandson, Kepa, and a beautiful granddaughter, Kanani. Even Bison, one of their two dogs, made an appearance to say hello. Again, not surprising, their ʻOhana hale seemed always in motion. It is a home filled with three generations, surfboards, and a lot of love.

Fran offered us a bit of special breakfast while we sat outside and enjoyed the landscaped yard and the wonderful breezes. Then we opened our deck of Phase 10 playing cards and quickly taught the game to Fran. We played for a comfortable amount of time, all of us enjoying our wonderful company.

We had a very sociable, socially distanced time together. It was nice to get to know a bit more of Fran. If you’re on Oʻahu and interested in playing cards and socializing safely, give me a call!


Peter Fritz: Challah Man

Jul 5, 2019

By Arnie Warshawsky

On Sunday, June 2, 2019, I learned a tiny bit about the challenges and satisfaction of baking challah. With seven other hardy souls, I attended the second showing of “Peter Fritz: Challah Man.” We were graciously hosted by Temple Emanu-El, which had a kitchen sufficiently large to handle the nine of us. The class began at 9:00 am, but to get ready for the class, Peter, like most bakers, got up hours before dawn to prepare. The focus of this class was learning several classic challah braids. During his pre-class preparation, Peter made the dough (half simply bread dough, the other half with raisins), and divided it into a myriad of Ziplock bags – each bag holding the right amount of dough for one braid. He provided a two-part hand out. One part was recipes for challah dough, the other was a simple tutorial on some of the braiding techniques. Nothing can quite compare with the hands-on experience of actually braiding challah.

While eight student-braided challoth were rising, Peter introduced us to the art of making the dough. It’s one of those things that seems easy when you watch someone accomplished showing you how. Also, like an auto mechanic, having the right tools makes things go so much easier. Peter doesn’t like to leave things to happenstance. He is a strong advocate of weighing out all of the ingredients using a kitchen scale. Peter believes this contributes to consistency. Similarly, he strongly recommends not relying on oven temperature and recipe baking times. Instead, he stresses the importance of using a probe to measure the internal temperature of each challah to fine tune the baking time. I was surprised to see 5-10 degree differences in internal temperature for two challahs baking next to each other on the same baking pan.

Each of the eight of us got to take home one of the challahs we baked, plus pre-weighed out portions of the dough we made while the challah were baking. That was our homework. Take the dough home, braid and bake your own challah. I did, to my wife’s amazement. Unfortunately, because I didn’t have a thermometer probe, I had to rely on the oven temperature and baking time method. As it turned out, my challoth came out pretty good. It was good enough that I plan to try the entire process soon. Amazon delivered my kitchen scale and thermometer today. A new hobby is dawning. See below for links to challah recipes.

Link to document with challah recipes:

https://1drv.ms/w/s!AndQarCZS2BigkQBj80tvd7l8cLp?e=ZBQCMe

Link to document for how to braid challah:

https://1drv.ms/b/s!AndQarCZS2Big1Yfv-KEJv01PuRW?e=fMhire

Link to document for baking equipment:

https://1drv.ms/w/s!AndQarCZS2Big1UXuuX6aO7B_2fe?e=0GXucI


Marv Black: A Profile

Jul 5, 2019

By Fran Margulies

Behind the gentle Marv Black we meet on Shabbat mornings hides a former fierce warrior. I visited Marv recently, and he proudly pulled from under his bed a formidable collection of “edged weapons,” as he called them. They range from short lethal knives to long graceful Samurai swords. Slowly hoisting each one in turn, he demonstrated to me the proper grip and best angle of use. Known as “The Saber Man” when he attended The Bronx High School of Science, Marv earned top awards in fencing and also, fittingly, in horsemanship.

Trading martial romance for a more practical career, Marv earned a psychology degree from Brooklyn College and a master’s in educational psychology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He also served two years as US Army medic at Fort Polk in Louisiana. Marv’s working life was counseling; he was employed in the township of Middle (Cape May Court House), in south eastern New Jersey, where he worked with K-12 students until retiring at age 64.

Then the winds of adventure began to stir again. Marv moved to Hawaiʻi, and, from this base, he set out to explore the world with his companion and dear friend Brina. They toured together more countries and waterways than one can name. Marvin exercised his fluency with languages, particularly Spanish. Still actively counseling, Marv volunteered for years with the Honolulu Police Department, answering the telephone for Honolulu CrimeStoppers.

Slowed now by age and strokes, Marv is ably supervised by his daughter Deb who lives nearby, who celebrated Marv’s 80th with a grand pool party, and has recently found Ed, a helpful live-in companion for Marv. Keeping in touch long distance are Marv’s brother Larry and sister-in-law Linda, his son Taylor, daughter-in-law Stacey, and granddaughter Aden.

A few years ago, Marv indulged in one more expansive gesture: he invited all of his neighbors, his fellow Sof Ma’aravers, and many friends, to a sit-down banquet in a Chinese restaurant where he played genial host and introduced all of us to his daughter Deb and beloved young great-granddaughter Liana!

A huge and affectionate l’chayim!! to you, Marv! Happy 86th birthday! (June 24th.)

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