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Permit No. 1208
The Charlotte
JEWISH
Vol. 17 No.10
TIshrel 5756 November 1995
9th Annual Book &
Author Evening:
A Modern-Day Exodus
From Egypt
By Suzanne Cannon
“/n each generation every
man must regard himself as though
he persorutlly had gone forth from
Egypt. ” - from The Haggadah
It is not hard for Andre
Aciman to regard himself as having
personally gone forth from Egypt.
The author of the critically ac
claimed memoir Out of Egypt was
bom in Alexandria and left there
when the rising tide of Arab nation
alism finally swept his family out of
the country in the mid-1960’s.
Aciman is this year’s special guest
for the Ninth Annual Book and Au
thor Evening, co-sponsored by the
Charlotte chapter of Hadassah, the
Speizman Jewish Library and the
Andre' Aciman
Photo Credit Sigrid Estrada
Jewish Community Center. The tale
he tells of living as a Jew in an Arab
land is a skillful blend of the lyrical,
the farcical and the frightening.
Barely a generation ago,
800,000 Jews lived in the Arab
world, nearly a quarter of them in
Egypt alone. Among them was
Aciman's family, who settled in Al
exandria in 1905 after his great uncle
Isaac befriended Fouad, the future
king of Egypt, while both were stu-
doits at the University of Tiirin. This
nuuked the beginning of the family’s
sixty-year sojourn in Egypt, a pe
riod often punctuated with the anxi
ety and fear brought on by turbu
lent world events. Recaptured in Ad-
num’s silvery prose, however, even
the worst times seem to be bathed
in the honeyed glow of nostalgia.
While the entire fiamily huddled in
his great-grandmocher’i dtarkened
reluctant to sacrifice their high bour
geois Mediterranean lifestyle to
what they hoped were only tran
sient fears. In the meantime Aciman,
a student at an English public school
that “had essentially become an Arab
school wearing the tattered relics of
British garb," endured the sting of
incessant insults heaped on him by
Miss Sharif, his Arabic teacher, and
Sec ACIMAN, Page 7
Interfaith Couples Find a
Home at Temple Beth El
living room during one of the fre
quent air raids of the Suez War,
Aciman recalls musing, “I would
miss these nights, not the war itself
but the blackout, not my uncles or
aunts but the velvety hush of their
voices when we turned off the lights
and drew closer to the radio, almost
whispering our thoughts in the
dark.”
Nearly a decade later, most of
Aciman’s extended family had fled
Egypt in the face of the roiling cur
rents of pan-Arab nationalism and
the concomitant rise of anti-
Semitism. Aciman, his parents,
grandmother, and an aunt and uncle
were all that remained in Alexandria
By Resa Goldberg
Like many interfaith couples
that choose to raise their children
Jewish, Andrea and Howard Seidler
needed a connection to the Jewish
community.
They had that at the Univer
sity of Massachusetts, Amherst,
where they were active at the Hillel
House and enjoyed the proximity of
cities heavily populated by Jews.
There was no need, they said, to join
area synagogues that didn’t really
welcome the interfaith anyway.
Then they moved to Char
lotte.
“We realized when we arrived
last year that if we wanted that sense
of community here, we would have
to search for it,” says Howard.
The Seidlers found their com
munity at Temple Beth El, where
interfaith couples represent one of
the fastest growing segments of
membership. While the numbers
aren’t tracked on a monthly basis,
Beth El officials estimate that up to
80% of new members in recent
months are interfaith couples — a
group that now makes up approxi
mately 30% percent of the 750 fami
lies who belong to the temple.
A recent survey of Union of
American Hebrew Congregations,
the official organization of Reform
synagogues, found that the major
ity —41%— reported between 6%
and 150% of membership units are
interfaith families. Like Temple Beth
El, 16% of Reform temples said that
more than 25% of their membership
consists of interfaith families.
“The numbers of interfaith
couples joining Reform synagogues
is rising across the country,” says
Dru Greenwood, director of
UAHC’s Commission on Reform
Jewish Outreach. *‘One measure of
growth is the higher numbers of kin
dergarten-aged children of interfaith
marriages in religious schools than
children in the 5th or 6th grade.”
Greenwood says much of the
increase can be attributed to the ris
ing numbers of UAHC temples that
provide Outreach programming.
While Temple Beth El has had some
form of such programming for
many years, it has been stepping up
its eff(Mts to meet the growing de
mand. One of its more succesfiil pro-
Next Month in the CJN
Joei Goldman writes about
Rabbis from Charlotte
Who Are Thev?
Where Are They?
TTi/s Intorfalh group discussion at Tsmpis Beth El focused
on self-identity, criteria that define a good person and tfte
dWerences t)etween Judaism and Christianity.
grams - now in its third season - is
called Second Mondays, a drop-in
discussion group that meets
moa&ly to talk about issues in
terest to interfaith couples. Other
Outreach activities, such as the
Teaching Shabbat, are designed, in
part, to help educate the non-Jew
ish partner and help that person feel
more comfortable.
Shirley Fytelson, Temple
Beth El member for 12 years, says
the recent influx of interfaith
couples and increased interest in
Outreach programming coincides
wi#i Rabbi James Bennett’s arrival
in Charlotte just over two years ago.
“I think Rabbi Bennett is more lib
eral than our former rabbi on issues
such as officiating at interfaith mar
riages,” she says.
See Interfaith page 3
Federation Community
Campaign Begins
For Ourselves, For Our Children For Israel, Forever
spearhead the annual cam[>aign. The
following individuals have assumed
key leadership positions for the 19%
fundraising drive:
Men*s Division
Major Gifts
($10,000 +) - Bob Speizman
Cimak
($3,600 - $9,999) - Todd Gorelick
and David Swimmer
Pacesetter
($1,250 - $3,599) - Jack Levinson
and Alan Goldberg
$365 - $1,249 - Jon Goldberg suid
Craig Katzman
WQmto*s PiYisioD
Women’s Division President -
Phyllis Schiffman
UaiutUMdab.
($5,000 -t-) - Bobbi Bernstein and
Lee Blumenthal
PiKtsrttiT
($1,250 - $4,999) - Ruth Goldberg
and Nancy Kipnis
$365 - $ 1,249 - Alison Lemer and
Donna Lemer
JkUpUdfe - Alison Levinson
Sm^Smmdav - Dan A Stacy
Levinson and George A Andrea
Cronson
The 19% Jewish Federation
of Greater Chariotte campaign kicks
off this month with the theme “For
Ourselves, For Our Children, For
Israel, Forever.” Under the enthusi
astic leadership of campaign chair
Bill Gorelick and vice-chair, Jill
Newman, a team of dedicated woric-
ers has been assembled to solicit
funds for needs both locally and
abroad. At a recent solicitor train
ing event. Bill said, “I am confident
that with support and participation
ftxNn the community, we will be able
to achieve our goal and continue to
meet the growing needs of the Jew
ish community at home and around
the world. The Federation annual
campaign is the best way to ensure
that we will keep alive a legacy that
makes a difference in thousands of
Jewish lives.”
C!ontributions to the campaign
underwrite a wide range of local
Jewish educational, cultural and so
cial service programs and agencies
in addition to supporting Israel and
the needs of fellow Jews woridwide.
The Charlotte Jewish commu
nity can be proud of the dynamic
leader^p tlutt has volunteered to
    

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