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The process of restoring United Hebrew Congregation’s historic synagogue began in the fall of 2015, when Indiana Landmarks offered UHC’s board an opportunity to take part in a training initiative with Sacred Places Indiana. Through that training and the resulting grants, we have begun the actual restoration. But we would not be on this journey without generous donations from congregation members, former members and friends. To date, UHC has received $30,000 in grants made possible by Sacred Places Indiana and funded by the Lilly Endowment. Our Restoration Fund continues to grow as we prepare to apply for additional grants. UHC’s restoration has begun with Phase One: Critical Limestone Masonry Restoration and Lintel Replacement. Midwest Restoration Inc. from Paris, Ill., is completing that work.
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Ellie Loeb Merar, a Terre Haute resident from 1937-1943, will speak at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 19, at CANDLES Holocaust Museum & Education Center. Before World War II, Ellie’s parents Emma and Albert Loeb owned a store in Lauterecken, Germany. Starting in 1933, then 7-year-old Ellie and younger sister Stella endured anti-Semitic instructors in school, while Nazis targeted the family’s store. The Loeb family left Germany in 1937 and came to live with family in Terre Haute. Blanche Loeb Wolf and Carl Wolf, grandparents of late former United Hebrew Congregation president Ed Wormser, sponsored the Loebs.
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I am so sorry we have lost a beautiful woman and our friend, Estelle Corrigan, this past month. Estelle and John Corrigan were a beautiful couple. I loved to listen to them tell how they met and how much they loved dancing. When I think of Estelle and John as a young couple, I think of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. When I think of them now, I think of them dancing in a ballroom holding each other and gazing at each other with so much love. They both will be missed as part of our congregation.
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Much as time and care go into our generic, daily, Jewish lives, an inordinate amount of care goes into crafting, reading or lifting a scroll. The first time someone picks up a Sefer Torah scroll really conveys the weight of the book. Maybe that is the reason we keep using this ancient technology. The scroll has the heft of a toddler, is at least as cumbersome and is almost as holy.
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The past month of April, and now the month of May, present a microcosm of our congregation's character. In fact, instead of lamenting the small size of our congregation, after seeing all that we accomplish, we might instead start proclaiming that small is indeed beautiful. From my professional view as an economist, we talk about the concept of “free-riding”, when people do not contribute their share of the work even while enjoying the community's benefits because they know that someone else will chip in (particularly with volunteer time or monetary contributions). This is easier to do in a large organization, because your individual participation may or may not seem to matter.
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At 11:30 a.m. May 20, our congregation will hold its annual meeting. This is a time for us to get together and celebrate our accomplishments during the past year. Most recently, we launched another young adult, Izaak, who became Bar Mitzvah. I find it remarkable, and I hope that you do, too, that our small Jewish community educates our young people as well as many larger congregations.
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The ideal of forgiveness helps some victims of trauma overcome their suffering. That concept is an anathema to Agnes Schwartz, who survived the Holocaust in Budapest, Hungary, passing as the Catholic niece of a compassionate family housekeeper. Agnes was guest speaker for "Remember the Past – Transform the Present", the April 15 Yom HaShoah observance co-sponsored with CANDLES Holocaust Museum & Education Center at United Hebrew Congregation. An audience of about 125 people attended the second annual event on a Sunday afternoon in the Temple sanctuary. Participants from area social action groups lit candles to to honor the 11 million Jewish and non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
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Estelle Blond had just returned to New York City from Israel when she and John Corrigan met at an Israeli folk dancing class in 1953. "She was fond of pointing out that he had come there with another woman, and she must have come there with another man, because that's how we did things back then. Women didn't come to dances on their own at the time," Estelle's daughter Eve recalled. John proposed within a couple of weeks, and Estelle accepted six months later. They were married for 60 years, before John died at 86 in 2015. On April 5, Estelle's family lay her to rest beside John at Highland Lawn Cemetery in Terre Haute. Estelle died April 2 at age 90.
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Our religious school children learn so much from the Purim holiday. The first thing they learn is that it doesn't always take an army to win a battle. In this case, it just took two individuals who loved the Jewish people to save them from elimination. Bruce Black conducted Shabbat services on February 2, the Friday after Purim. I have heard the Purim story read many times but not the way Bruce told the story. I could envision every character as if watching a movie.
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At first glance, when reading the title of this column you might have responded as follows: "Of course not, I am married!" "Of course not, I am single and have no intention of getting married or getting married again!" Or, "Of course not, I am in a relationship, but marriage is not in the horizon." Yet, "engagement" has a more general meaning. According to the Merriam Webster app on my iPhone, engagement involves an emotional commitment. That means a commitment to a person, place, organization or a myriad of other entities. So why am I writing about engagement? Yes, I have an ulterior motive.
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