New Families Given a Taste of Ann Arbor hospitality
Detroit Jewish News (September 23, 2004)
Special to the Jewish News
Ann Arbor - This was the first time 6-year-old Michael Cohen had ever tried to blow a shofar.
While he couldn’t quite figure it out, he had fun trying; and he planned to practice when he got home. Michael was given pointers by 9-year-old Theo Chupp. “I’ve blown a shofar before — look!” he said gleefully as he proceeded to demonstrate his abilities. Michael and Theo were two of 700 community members who participated in Ann Arbor’s 17th annual Apples & Honey event Sept. 12 at the Jewish Community Center of Washtenaw County.
“The idea is to promote Jewish life,” said Leslie Bash, JCC executive director.
“The community is growing, the Center is doing more activities; so it’s just become more lively.”
That growth was evident in Sunday’s attendance, which surpassed last year by more than 40 percent. This year, Apples & Honey featured clowns, moonwalks, arts and crafts projects and displays by various Jewish communal groups. New this year were pony rides and a petting zoo — and a newcomers’ booth. Special invitations to Apples & Honey were sent to families that are new members of the JCC or new to the Ann Arbor area. Last year, the community welcomed newcomers to a brunch. “This is just a different way to try and reach out to new members in the community,” explained Julie Bagley, JCC program coordinator. Once at the fair, newcomers were given a tote bag full of gifts and resources intended to help them integrate into the community.
The gifts included a $15 gift certificate to Hiller’s Markets, a jar of honey for a sweet new year and a copy of the Detroit Jewish News. The 20 new families that attended also were given a punch card with the names of all the organizations at Apples & Honey. Once their punch card was completed as proof that they visited every table, they were given a free challah to accompany the honey in their bag. Hiller’s Markets donated apples and honey so that everyone at the event could have a taste. Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor gave away free snow cones to help ease the heat. At Bais Chabad’s table, children like Michael and Theo were given an opportunity to help make their own shofar.
“Kids never get a chance to touch the shofar,” said Chabad’s Rabbi Aharon Goldstein. “They hear the sound, and that’s it.” Children also were able to pick out a shofar and then polish it shiny. According to Rabbi Goldstein, “That’s the innovation of this approach — this is a totally hands-on, educational approach.”
The festivities included a mezuzah ceremony in the newly renovated gymnasium. “We’re here to celebrate the almost-completion of our new gymnasium,” said David Segeloff, JCC president.
The room will be used for community events, as well as sporting competitions. Already, five bar-bat mitzvahs have been booked for the room. Israeli mezuzot were placed on the four doors of the gymnasium. Rabbi Jason Miller, assistant director University of Michigan Hillel, made the first basket on the new basketball court. As they scanned the happy expressions on the faces of community members, event coordinators declared the afternoon a success.
© 2004 Detroit Jewish News
© Rabbi Jason Miller 1996-2007