2710 Genesee St.
Utica, New York 13502
Phone: (315) 724-4751

A Conservative Jewish Congregation
Established for the Worship of God, the Study of Torah,
and the Practice of Righteous Deeds


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July 6 - 8:25 P.M.
July 13 8:22 P.M.
July 20 - 8:17 P.M.
July 27 - 8:10 P.M.
August 3 - 8:02 P.M.
August 10 - 7:53 P.M.
August 17 - 7:43 P.M.
August 24 - 7:32 P.M.
August 30 - 7:22 P.M.

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•The Harry N. & Eleanor L. Savett Scholarship Fund
•The Dr. Albert A Schwartz Education Fund
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•Tree of Life Plaques

To Make a Donation Contact the Temple Office at
(315) 724-4751

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A Message from Cantor Socolof

CantorAs summer arrives, some of us take the opportunity presented by some additional leisure time to catch up on reading we have meant to do. Sometimes folks are committed to reading, but don't have any specific books in mind. In light of such a possibility, I am using my space to suggest a few books of Jewish content for your perusal. They range in age, tone and seriousness. If none of these grabs your attention, there are many others you might want to look into.

The Promise by Chaim Potok. This is the sequel to his first novel, The Chosen, which most people are familiar with. In The Promise, we find Danny and Reuven, the main characters of The Chosen, as young adults dealing with trying to make one's mark in the world. Potok, ever the keen observer, portrays how the choices these characters make affect the dynamics within their families. It is one of the books that I keep on my headboard, so that I may occasionally reread favorite sections.

The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten. Known primarily as a novelist and screenwriter, Rosten proved himself to be a capable lexicographer with this effort. It is a thorough (although, of course, not totally comprehensive) introduction to Yiddish where most entries are illustrated by means of a joke. More than a few of the jokes have been referenced by other writers, ranging from Harlan Ellison to Neil Gaiman to John Updike. How else could you be expected to know that when one-upping someone complaining of their tsuris, you should tell them that you have gehokte tsuris?

A Treasury of Jewish Folklore by Nathan Ausubel. I consider this compendium nothing less than indispensable (my wife and I made a point of presenting a copy to each of our children). It is buffet-as-feast. Its stories, parables, jokes, legends and songs capture the spectrum of Jewish sensibilities. I cannot count how many times I have quoted something from this book, not just in my capacity as a Cantor, but in my day-to-day life. An example:

Two old men sat silently over their glasses of tea for what might have been, or at any rate seemed, hours.
At last, one spoke: “Oy veh!”
The other said: “You’re telling me!”

The Grammar of God by Aviya Kushner. This is by far the most recent entry on this list. Kushner grew up in a Hebrew-speaking household, assuming that every family spent dinner time discussing the ramifications of grammatical details in the Tanach. When she went to graduate school to study writing, her professor informed the class that they would be studying the King James version of the bible. Kushner, deeply knowledgeable about the Hebrew incarnation but unfamiliar with the English, was struck by the differences between the two. Some were as a result of inaccurate translation, and some were things that even a skilled translator could not have conveyed. Please do not think that this is a dry, scholastic tome. Kushner presents the texts she studies in Hebrew and multiple English translations, leavened with personal reflections.

This is My God by Herman Wouk. Wouk is an observant Orthodox Jew who, as of this writing, is still alive at the age of 103.  He wrote gags for radio in the 1940’s, ultimately turning to novels.  His first, The Caine Mutiny, based on his time in the US Navy, became a hit Broadway play and movie.  He went on to write Winds of War as well as War and Remembrance, which were both made into successful TV mini-series.  This Is My God is an introduction to Judaism.  In fact, when non-Jews (or Jews, for that matter) ask me for a book to give them an overview of  our  faith,  this  is  the  one  I  typically recommend.  Although Wouk has a definite point of view in terms of his Orthodoxy, he is profoundly even-handed in talking about the different expressions of Judaism.  It quickly becomes evident that you are in the hands of someone who is both a knowledgeable guide and a skilled writer.

There are more I could have listed, but I think this list will provide a mixture of edification and enjoyment. I wish all of you a summer of health, happiness and good reading.

Cantor Socoloff

Contact him at uticacantor@verizon.net