Jewish Tidewater 2019

by | Dec 19, 2019 | Featured

The final year of the decade witnessed another robust year for Tidewater’s Jewish community—one filled with elation, intellectual stimulation, fun, and grief. A few highlights, as well as low points, for the community follows.

The once fledgling Team Israel’s transformative journey that led to competing in the World Baseball Classic is celebrated in the film, Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel. The film opens for the 26th Annual Festival of Jewish Film. Seth Kramer, director, and Ty Kelly, Team Israel and New York Mets player, speaks at the opening night event.

Inclusive minds prevail when Hands United Building Bridges’ (HUBB) brings the Tidewater community together with Summit Against Hate on Monday, January 14. The summit offers many opportunities for the interfaith community to speak candidly, gain new perspectives, champion hate with inclusivity, and take time to learn from each other.

In a first ever joint event, the Norfolk and Virginia Beach Forums along with the Holocaust Commission, brings the powerful message of Father Patrick Desbois to Tidewater. Nearly 750 fortunate people attend the talk at the Sandler Center on Thursday, January 31.

As part of its 100th Anniversary Giving Campaign, Kaufman & Canoles donates $500 to Jewish Family Service of Tidewater.


Artist-in-Residence Hillel Smith leads workshops and discussions on contemporary Judaica.

Forty delegates from Tidewater travel to Richmond on February 6 for Virginia’s annual Jewish Advocacy Day.

MARCH 2019
In a speech on the House Floor on Thursday, March 7, Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02), a 20-year Navy veteran, speaks in support of a House resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry. The resolution passes later that day, 407–23.

The groundbreaking for Norfolk’s Mikvah expansion takes place on Sunday, March 10 with a commitment to ensure the updated Mikvah has state-of-the-art design and is handicap accessible. The campaign’s goal is $400K.

New York Times bestselling author, also known as ‘America’s Rabbi,’ Rabbi Joseph Telushkin brings a special message to the community on how to build relationships, with his book, Words That Hurt, Words That Heal. Rabbi Telushkin’s visit is part of the Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in-Residence Tidewater Together.

Patricia Wainger receives a Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities award at the Tidewater Chapter’s 55th Annual Humanitarian Awards.

Tidewater Jewish Foundation honors its community partners and donors at the 2nd annual Life & Legacy® event, marking 450 commitments and $17-million in future gifts.

APRIL 2019
Seniors celebrate Passover at the Simon Family JCC with songs and a beautiful rendition of The Four Questions by Chloe Zuckerman.

Temple Israel holds its first Women’s Seder on April 24. More than 90 reservations are made to attend.

UFJT hosts American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) CEO, David Schizer, on April 30.

MAY 2019
Faith White is awarded the Stein Family College Scholarship from Tidewater Jewish Foundation. White’s mission is to change the way people view clothing and impact the environment, “have fewer, more meaningful and ethically produced pieces in our closets, combat abuses, use fewer resources, and dump less into landfills.”

Armed Forces Shabbat takes place on Friday, May 17 at Ohef Sholom Temple. Congresswoman Elaine Luria is the guest speaker.

Israel Fest takes place at the Simon Family JCC on Sunday, May 19.

Jewish Family Service’s Spring Into Healthy Living includes a program on organ donation.

JUNE 2019
World-wide attention is thrust on Virginia Beach on Friday, May 31, when a shooting at the Municipal Center results in 13 deaths. In the days following the shooting, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Community Relations Council plays a significant role in assisting in the organization of VB Remembers, a community gathering to begin the healing process.

Amy Moss Levy is installed as United Jewish Federation of Tidewater president at the 2019 Biennial meeting on June 13.

In a special Shabbat service on June 15, Congregation Beth El honors and wishes Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz and his family a fond farewell. Rabbi Arnowitz served as rabbi for eight years, fostering new programs and educational experiences. He was also active in the general community where he helped to form the interfaith and intercultural HUBB, Hands United Building Bridges.

Toras Chaim holds its Annual Dinner, honoring Amy and Kevin Lefcoe. Michelle Aronoff and Ruth Cohen also receive an award.

Ellen Rosenblum is installed as Jewish Family Service president on June 17.

“One Night” with James Beard award-winning chef Alon Shaya at Baker’s Crust in Virginia Beach, delights donors and raises significant funds for Be A Reader (BeAR), the literacy program conceived 20 years ago by Untied Jewish Federation of Tidewater volunteers.

JULY 2019

Holocaust Commission holds its bi-annual Educators Conference, July 30–August 1. The conference kicks off with an original dance presentation by the Elbert Watson Dance Company.

Rabbi Murray Ezring joins Congregation Beth El as interim Rabbi on July 15.

Eight courts are dedicated to Pickleball play at the Simon Family JCC.


“One Night” with James Beard award-winning chef Alon Shaya at Baker’s Crust in Virginia Beach, delights donors and raises significant funds for Be A Reader (BeAR), the literacy program conceived 20 years ago by Untied Jewish Federation of Tidewater volunteers.

A heartbreaking event brings area Jews together. The body of late Rabbi Reuven Bauman, who swam to rescue a student in distress, was found six days later. Rabbi Bauman was eulogized by his father Rabbi Mark Bauman at B’nai Israel in Norfolk. The senior Rabbi Bauman opened the eulogy with gratitude to the many who volunteered in the search effort and many more who prayed and offered support to the family during their time of hardship.

31st Annual Strelitz International Academy Golf Tournament takes place at Bayville Golf Club. Eighty-four golfers play and many more attend.

Michael Coles meets with United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Society of Professionals on September 18. Coles is the cofounder of the Great American Cookie Company and the former CEO of Caribou Coffee. He is in Tidewater through the Jewish Book Council.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Romania, presidential advisor and current U.N. Watch Chairman, Alfred Moses, is the featured speaker at IGNITE 2020! the launch of the Community 2020 Campaign and the Lee & Bernard Jaffe Family Jewish Book Festival. The event takes place on September 26.

Tidewater Chavurah and Congregation Beth Chaverim hold joint High Holiday services at Old Donation Episcopal Church’s Parish Hall in Virginia Beach.

Cantor Elihu Flax is elected the new president of the Board of Rabbis and Cantors.

After reaching capacity, Strelitz International Academy announces that it will open a new class for two-year-olds in January 2020.

Old Dominion AZA holds a reunion where nearly 150 fellow alumni, spouses, and significant others celebrate and pay tribute to an organization that played an important role in their lives as Jewish teens in Tidewater. The event is held on October 19 at the Hilton in Virginia Beach.

A series of Community Forums are held to begin formulating questions for Jewish Tidewater: A survey for the community’s future.

Virginia Beach Police Department visits the Virginia Holocaust Museum on November 1.

The annual Janet Gordon Mah Jongg Day of Play, Tournament and luncheon at Beth Sholom Village is sold out with more than 100 guests on November 3.

Eileen Filler-Corn wins the race to become Virginia’s first woman and first Jewish Speaker of the House for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Super Sunday takes place on Sunday, November 17. The annual phone-a-thon, raises approximately $170,000 and connected with close to 300 community members.

Simon Family JCC announces J Day. A Sunday Only membership.

Dave Barry, Adam Mansbach and Alan Zweibel entertain a sold-out crowd on December 4. Billed as A Night of Laughs!, the trio does not disappoint. A Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in-Residence Tidewater Together event.

Sarah Hurwitz, Michelle Obama’s speechwriter, visits Virginia Beach to talk about her book, Here All Along. She speaks at Temple Emanuel on December 8. A Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in-Residence Tidewater Together event.

Latkepalooza is held at the Simon Family JCC. Latkes, three children’s authors, crafts, and camp activities entertain families on Sunday, December 15.