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Faith In Brooklyn for June 25

June 25, 2018 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Honorees Jeffrey Feldman and Miriam Arato with their proclamations. Eagle photo by Andy Katz
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‘Evening of Sweet Tastes’ Honors Miriam Arato, Jeffrey Feldman

Congregation Mount Sinai’s “Evening of Sweet Tastes” on Tuesday June 19, featured a variety of pastries, ice creams, egg creams and chocolate-dipped fruits. But the sweetness was not limited to the food, as the synagogue honored two dedicated members, Miriam Arato and incoming president, Jeffrey Feldman.

“Miriam is one of the reasons, along with [Hanniel] Levenson, that I come to shul on a regular basis,” said Congregation Mount Sinai’s outgoing president, Judge Ellen Spodek.

Arato’s story is one of perseverance, courage and adventure. She left her native Romania as a child during World War II, relocated at age seven in Israel and then arrived in the United States, settling in Los Angeles. During this time, Miriam’s husband died and she found herself a young widow creatively raising her two college-bound children.

Cynthia and Alexander Arato, now adults, narrated their mother’s story in the form of a roast. One particularly happy memory led to Miriam’s joining Congregation Mount Sinai, and in the process, finding a new family.

Son Alexander joked that one of his mother’s “biggest lies” was to her parents, when she left Israel: ‘Can I just go to the United States for a quick trip, and I’ll be right back.’…She returned years later with a  husband and two children.”

“Miriam, as you know, speaks, many languages: Hebrew, English, Hungarian—all fluently,” said Cynthia Arato. Picking up this thought later, emcee Jeff Douglas told the gathering about “traveling Miriam. She’s been to over 100 countries now. Her love for traveling, she feels, comes from that first trip when she was seven years old, and they were crossing the Black Sea leaving Romania on  her way to Israel. Rabbi [Joseph] Potasnik told me that the first time he met Miriam and found out that she could read Haftorah, he followed her home to convince her to become a member of the congregation. She has been very instrumental in this congregation, a great help and a great support.”

Potasnik, who is now the synagogue’s senior rabbi emeritus, was present and sporting a Brooklyn Cyclones jersey.

Alexander Arato said of his mom, “She’s clearly not a tall person, but in our family, she’s a giant.” Talking about a family tradition at Mount Sinai, the annual memorial concert that Arato organizes for her late first husband, Alexander said, “There is nothing that should have held our family together at all—except for  her. She, by force of will alone, held us together.”

Spodek then introduced Feldman. They have known each other since her father, the Hon. Jules Spodek, was a candidate for Civil Court judge. (By the time the elder Spodek retired, he was a State Supreme Court Justice.) “So I’ve known Jeff since I was in high school,” she said. “A long, long time.”

City Councilman Stephen Levin arrived from other commitments just in time to present proclamations to Arato, Feldman and, as a surprise, to Spodek as she concludes her term as president. Several friends and supporters from the Brooklyn Democratic Party were present.

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Vacation Bible School Explores Being Rescued from Shipwrecks

“Shipwrecked: Rescued By Jesus,” is the theme of this year’s Vacation Bible School at Lefferts Park Church in Dyker Heights. Youngsters will discover, through arts and crafts, outdoor fun and of course prayer, how Jesus rescues people from life’s proverbial shipwrecks.

The program, which runs Monday, July 9 through Friday, July 13 and for which registration is now open, takes place at the Lefferts Park Church, 7524 14th Ave. During the half-day sessions, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the children will enjoy singing and Bible lessons, and receive free lunch through the city Department of Education Summer Meals program.

Nursery service and adult classes will also be available. A final performance and party will take place on the closing day. Participants are urged to register early, via phone: 1-718-232-4347 or email: [email protected].


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