The Reflector Volume 65/Issue 12 December 2017

AGENCIES in this issue Super Sunday page 7 FEDERATION Jewish Community Federation OF RICHMOND R eflector the Volume 65 | Issue 12 Kislev/Tevet 5778 | December 2017 Scherr’s Honored page 12 community FEDERATION 2 AGENCIES 8 SYNAGOGUES 15 COMMUNITY 22 HADASSAH 32 FOUNDATION 33 Honeymoon in the Holy Land Congregation Beth Ahabah breaks ground on $3.5 million renovation, expansion HAPPY HANUKKAH By Betsey Odell M y wife Jodi and I have just returned from our 10-day trip with Honeymoon Israel Rich- mond, and our travel buddy and now good friend Jesse Feld, JCFR’s Young Leadership & Communi- cations director, has tasked me to write a few words about our vaca- tion - so here it goes. First, Honeymoon Israel is the brainchild of two mental giants: Mike Wise and Avi Rubel. Their vision is for interfaith couples to ex- perience Israel together and to gain a sense of belonging with meaning- ful connections to Jewish life. Second, to say it was a trip of a lifetime would not do it jus- tice. Touring Israel with the love of your life in a group from your home town is nothing short of a paradigm shift. No one comes back the same. From Jerusalem, to the Dead Sea, Masada and Tel Aviv – we came, we saw, we loved, and we learned. But, it would not be enough for me to simply offer a list of amazing sights. My fellow group members would want me to describe what Israel truly feels like. To introduce us, Jodi and I met and fell in love in NYC. We were married in 2015 in a quaint garden ceremony in the Lower East Side, and a year later, moved to Rich- mond. We chose to move to Richmond to start our family. The idea of lug- ging a stroller through the New York City subway system was not appealing to us. What we did like was that Richmond was closer to family. Something happened when I got pregnant. I wanted my life to be more about family. I also wanted Jodi and I, as a same-sex couple, to be safe. We were not prepared for how welcoming Richmond was to us. Jodi, the Jewish partner in our dynamic duo, spent every summer fromage 8 in the JCC’s camp Sabra and minored in Jewish studies in college. I was raised in a Christian home, but like many New Yorkers was regularly invited to Seders and High Holidays via close friends. We had not anticipated how over- whelmingly Christian Richmond was and we, both, missed the Jew- ish culture and community we had left behind in New York. So, when we heard of the HMI opportunity we jumped and luckily our applica- tion was accepted. As Jodi and I began our Israel journey together, it was seemingly easy to depict which person from each couple was Jewish, yet by the end of the trip it grew more diffi- cult. Was it the endless amounts of (From left) Betsey Odell and Jodi Perl-Odell pose during a sunset on the rooftop of Tel Aviv’s Carlton Hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. (Contributed Photo) Honeymoon More on page 17 C ongregation Beth Ahabah celebrated at a groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 27 marking the beginning of a $3.5 million renovation and expansion project of its historic campus on West Franklin Street. The project, which followed the completion of a capital cam- paign, will make the campus fully accessible to people with disabili- ties, increase safety and security, strengthen connections between buildings and congregational activities, repair and protect historic structures and create inspirational green space. The build-out in- cludes a new façade for the religious school. “Our congregation has been woven into the fabric of the Rich- mond community for more than 225 years,” said Rabbi Scott M. Nagel. “The walls of our historic sanctuary and the families who have worshiped within, have witnessed great changes in our city over time. Our congregation has thrived because it has embraced change, in fact even led change at times, while never forgetting our history – always grateful to those courageous visionaries who paved the way to our world as we know it today.” He continued, “As we break ground for these important capital Congregants and guests join Rabbi Scott M. Nagel (second from right) to break ground for a $3.5 million renovation and expansion project at Congregation Beth Ahabah Oct. 27. (Beth Ahabah Photo) Beth Ahabah More on page 25 20th Anniversary Concert page 23