Temple House of Israel Bulletin
May/June/July 2021 • Ivar/Sivan/Tamuz/Av 5781
Celebrating and sustaining Jewish life in a spiritual and welcoming community in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley
What Makes THOI Special? Of Course, Our Members!  
A conversation with Leah Farmer
(As interviewed by Brian Dettelbach) 
Q: What is your favorite type of food?
Leah: Thai is my favorite here in Staunton. But French “Haute Cuisine” is my absolute favorite. The best meal of my life was in Paris, at the elegant and Michelin-acclaimed “Le Taillevent” Restaurant. [Editor’s note: check out their website to see photos of their sophisticated décor, menu, and exquisitely prepared dishes: https://letaillevent.com/fr]  I ordered “Quenelles de Brochet (Pike) avec sauce nantua” and still recall that when the dish was served, its smell- an aroma of spices and herbs- just completely filled my head.     

And I fondly recall the best wines I’ve ever tasted: 1) 1895 Haut Brion; 2) 1939  Margaux; 3) 1945 Mouton – Rothschild; 4) a $1 bottle of white wine purchased at chateau for a picnic that was superb!   

Q: What kinds of books do you enjoy reading, and which genres of movies do you like to watch?  
Leah: I like to read poetry, detective stories, and English literature- all kinds. For movies- the classics! My favorite film is “Casablanca”, but any movie featuring Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock, and Woody Allen would be at the top. I like romantic and English comedies, especially ones starring Peter Sellers and Alec Guinness. 

Q: Do you speak another language?  
Leah: Yes, French- badly!  

Q: Have you been to France?
Leah: Yes. I honeymooned twice in Paris and once on the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec. [Ed’s note- the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec is located about 300 miles northeast of Quebec City in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence at the eastern extreme of southern Quebec.]
Q: When we can safely travel again, where would you like to visit?
Leah: Paris, Spain, and Portugal first, then Costa Rica and Guatemala. I’ve been to Costa Rica and Guatemala three times and really enjoy them.  

Q: What brought you to Staunton?
Leah: We were on our way from Massachusetts to Arizona, where we were going to live for a year in the desert. We were searching for a place with a shorter winter season. We stopped for a night to visit a friend in Nelson County and it reminded me of the Berkshires MA where I had lived for many years. So we paused our trip, engaged a realtor, and looked around this area. The realtor off-handedly mentioned Staunton, but then dismissed it saying “there are no neighborhoods; the rich people live next to the poor people.” So I thought it sounded like just the kind of town we’d enjoy living in. The rest is history. “I had never heard of Staunton in my life”.  

Q: Do you have a particular genre of music that you enjoy?  
Leah: Definitely Big Band and Jazz. If I had to pick my favorite song it would be “Autumn in New York”; the version sung by Lee Wiley.

[Ed’s note, synthesized from IMDb.com and Wikipedia: “One of the great jazz vocalists of all time, Lee Wiley was possessed of a wonderful warm and sensuous voice, able to project more emotion into her songs than most of her contemporaries. At the age of 19 she was a member of the Leo Reisman Orchestra, with whom in 1931 she recorded three songs: "Take It from Me", "Time On My Hands", and her composition "Got the South in My Soul”.  

Wiley began her radio career at KVOO in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She sang on the Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt program on NBC in 1932 and was featured on Victor Young's radio show in 1933. From June 10, 1936, until September 2, 1936, she had her own show, Lee Wiley, on CBS. In 1939, Wiley recorded eight Gershwin songs on 78s for Liberty Music Shop Records. The set sold well and was followed by 78s dedicated to the music of Cole Porter (1940) and Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart (1940 and 1954), Harold Arlen (1943), and 10" LPs dedicated to the music of Vincent Youmans and Irving Berlin (1951).]

Q: Post-Covid, if you could have a cup of coffee or tea together with a celebrity, who would that lucky person be?    
Leah: Mel Brooks. Jerry Seinfeld would be my second choice. I have always found comedy to be interesting. I once belonged to an improv troupe called “The Unexpected Company”. My uncle managed Eddie Cantor in Hollywood and knew the likes of George Burns and Jimmy Durante. I would love to hear everything that Mel Brooks could tell me of the world of comedy. [Ed’s Note: The Producers and Blazing Saddles movies are on my favorites list!] 

Q: Do you have a favorite holiday?
Leah: I like both Chanukah and Christmas- I love Christmas carols! My family was not very observant and when I was very young I woke up to see a few presents on Christmas morning. But when I was about 7 that ended when I opened up every closet and looked in every cubbyhole but could find no gifts. I realized then that there was no Santa Claus and that I was Jewish! Pat and I joke during the holiday season that she gets to celebrate Christmas for only one day but I get to enjoy eight days for the festival of Chanukah! She gets only one gift but I get eight!

Q: What role does Judaism play in your life?
Leah: Judaism is central to me. It’s a way of looking at the world and I like that it does not categorize people or races. I believe that I connect with every human being no matter their faith, I never feel alienated. 

Q: What is one thing you will never do again?
Leah: In 2018 at the age of 83 I married my soulmate, Patricia Matthews. Now that I am 86, and am very happy I never expect to marry again! 

Q:  In three words, how would you describe yourself?
Leah: Thoughtful, Silly, and Old. 

Q: What do you find special about THOI?
Leah: I love its location here in the South and in the Shenandoah Valley. I admire its longevity, endurance, and its active and devoted Members. Faith membership of all denominations is falling, but THOI goes on.   
Torah Cover Update
Work has begun on the Torah cover!
Our Torah cover is the design of fiber artists Margery and Eli Langner. Learn more about them and see examples of their beautiful work at Custom Judaica.
Look What's Happening at THOI
Hebrew Calligraphy with MBU Students
During Women's History Month, Ruth Chodrow and THOI hosted Dr. Katherine Low's honors students studying Eve and the Garden of Eden story through the lens of social expectations of gender in western society.
Students viewed a Torah scroll, learned some basics about the Hebrew alphabet, and then practiced Hebrew calligraphy. By the end of the session, all students were able to write "Chavah" (Eve) in Hebrew, as well as their own first names. Students took home their calligraphy pens, a handout on Hebrew calligraphy, and their own work. Ruth was impressed with their enthusiasm and interest, and hopes that some might continue.
Many thanks to longtime member Ruth Chodrow for sharing her many talents and reaching beyond our temple walls to bring the many joys of Hebrew to others.
The Women's Group at Temple House of Israel has been an integral part of the Jewish community since our first recorded minutes decades ago. We provide opportunities for fun and fellowship, conduct community outreach activities, and hold fundraising events to support temple functions.

The Women's Group recently made a donation to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.  Once again, we are a Bronze level sponsor for the 2021 Greater Shenandoah Out of the Darkness Walk to fight suicide. Congregants and friends are welcome to join (or make donations) to our team, Temple House of Israel & Friends . Last year we raised over $1,200 towards the Walk's goal of $55,000. To learn more about how you can participate on Saturday, October 16, go to afsp.org/gsv or contact Debbie Jacobs at deb1130@hotmail.com 

P.S. Funds raised through Flamingo Flocking help us give back to our temple and our community.  
Shop hours are still by appointment and special orders are always available. Buying items through the THOI Judaica Shop have allowed the shop to use it's funds towards the new Torah cover.

To schedule a time to shop, place a special order, or ask a question, contact Marsha Pillet at macmeda@newhopetel.net.
Gertrude Barber
Leah Barber
Morris Boden
Velma Byrne
Ellna Byrne
Joseph Cohn
Blanche Spitzer Cohn
Gloria Goldsmith
Ida Godfried Harris
Mildred Hoffman
Rosaline Printz Kamerman
Heidi Kaplan
Ethel Kelly
Morris Klotz
Abraham Kravitz
Joseph Oppenheim
Edward Patterson
Rose Jaffey Pickus
Jack Printz
Max Raybin
William C. Robins
Frank Rubin
Morris Ruttenberg
Dan Schorsch
Clara Sebell
Mildred Shor
Flora Switzer
Moses Walters
Elbert Evans Ward
Nettie Williams
Gertrude Barber
Charles Becher
Elan Brand
Bertha Brand
Bernard S. Bresky
Don Chodrow
Frederick Simon Cohn
Libbie Dubinsky
Harold Michael Goldenberg
Fannie Goldstein
Henry Heilbroner
Aaron Hewitt
Samuel Gordon Jacobsen
Mollie Kamerman
Samuel Kamerman
Bernard Kaplan
Herbert Kaslow
Dora Klotz
Bessie Landsberg
Philip Levin
Infant Sam Levy
Bertha Mindell
Frieda Mordetsky
Archie Printz
Ida Helen Rosen
Bess Rosen
Jerry Schwartz
Dr. Sol T. Simon
Betty Jo Snyder
Erwin Seymour Solomon
Abraham Switzer
David Lee Switzer
Harry Witt
Leah Bressman Barber
Edith Wecksler Belfor
Ruby Schorsch Bornstein
Shirley Esther Brand
Abe Bressman
Michelle Raybin Campbell
Maurice Cohen
Jerome Degen
Vera Duken
Bernice Cohen Fox
Eva Geller
David Gutnick
Molly Hoffman
Jacob Kaplan
Delores Levy
Melvin Samuel Lewis
Joseph Loener
Betty Menaker
Benjamin Raybin
Al Riess
Muriel Robbins
Betty Rosenthal
Richard Roth
Simon Sachs
Frances Schwartz
Sara Helen Seltzer
Morton Shor
Abraham Suskins
Samuel Weinberg
Our congregation is small--some might say tiny--but we are blessed by an overwhelming amount of talent and resources. There are many ways to help--and to get help--from the congregation. These are just a few ideas and options. Have others? Contact Larry Sutker at thoi.pres@gmail.com, another member of the Board of Directors, or Rabbi Nagel at thoirabbi@gmail.com.
  • Become a member of the Board of Directors
  • Donate to a temple fund of your choice
  • Talk to a financial advisor for other means of charitable giving. Larry Sutker notes: Individuals who are 70½ or older may make Qualified Charitable Donations (QCDs) directly from an IRA.
  • Come to a virtual Torah and Haftarah study 
  • Learn Hebrew with Ruth Chodrow rchodrow@gmail.com
  • Participate in a committee
  • Bring an unaffiliated Jew to a virtual service
  • Come to a virtual service (We need a minyan!)
  • Come to one of the Rabbi's virtual classes or book club
  • Show your love and appreciation for a friend with a Flamingo Flock. Contact Debbie Jacobs at deb1130@hotmail.com
15 N. Market Street • P.O. Box 1412 • Staunton VA 24402