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Henry Dvir Magalnick
David and Neva Ayn Magalnick of San Diego, Calif. announce the birth of their son Henry on March 22, 2011. Henry weighed 6 lbs., 10 oz.
Henry is the grandson of Uri Ayn and Sarah Rovner of Denver, Colo. and Elliott Magalnick of Denver and the late Diane Magalnick.
Henry is named after his maternal great-grandfather and his maternal grandmother.
Jenna will celebrate her Bat Mitzvah on April 16, 2011, at Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue.
Jenna is the daughter of Keith and Lisa Oratz and the sister of Joshua Oratz. Her grandparents are Howard Saunders of Renton and the late Rose Saunders, and the late Steve and Hella Oratz.
Jenna is a 7th grader at Redmond Junior High School. She enjoys drama, singing and shopping. Her mitzvah project is collecting supplies and money for Friends of Youth, an organization that helps homeless teens and adults throughout greater Seattle.
Audrey Louise Immel
Audrey will celebrate her Bat Mitzvah on April 9, 2011 at Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation on Mercer Island.
Audrey is the daughter of Russ and Tracy Immel of Redmond and the sister of Reid and Madison.
Her grandparents are Dale Ruis of Claremont, Calif. and the late Karen Ruis, Carolyn Ruis and Eddie Johnson of Claremont, Calif., and Dick and Penney Immel of Lakeside, Mont.
Audrey is a 7th grader at the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle. She enjoys piano, volleyball, basketball and writing music.
Nathan Isaac Stellman
Brett and Dana Stellman of Everett announce the birth of their son, Nathan Isaac, on January 16, 2011, at Swedish Hospital in Seattle. Nathan weighed 5 lbs., 11 oz. and measured 19-1/2 inches.
Nathan’s grandparents are Sue and Phil Miller of Kirkland and Linda and Michael Stellman of New York, N.Y.
Nathan is named after family friend Mitchell Nathan and his maternal great-grandfather Irving Klachuk.
Aliya SaraMarie Droker
Aliya will celebrate her Bat Mitzvah on March 12, 2011 at Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation on Mercer Island.
Aliya is the daughter of Cindy and Jeff Droker. Her brothers are Zach and Matthew. Her grandparents are Hilde Droker of Bellevue, Everett and Valeria Blanchard of Nevada City, Calif., the late Wayne M. Droker, and the late Richard Koch.
Aliya is a 7th grader at Tillicum Middle School. She enjoys gymnastics, volleyball, soccer, and dance. For her Bat Mitzvah project, she is volunteering at the Jewish Family Service food bank and the Teen Feed program.
Elizabeth Shoshanna Tanners
Avi and Christine Tanners of Long Beach, Calif. welcomed their daughter Elizabeth Shoshanna to the world on December 15, 2010.
Elizabeth is the granddaughter of Dina Tanners of Seattle and Paul Tanners of Spokane. She is the great-granddaughter of the late Sid and Jeanette Nelson.
Elizabeth’s middle name is for her great-grandmother Jeanette, whose Yiddish name was Shendl, and her great-great-grandmother Anna Klemptner.
Evan Noah Crites
Evan celebrated his Bar Mitzvah on February 19, 2011 at Congregation Kol Ami in Woodinville.
Evan is the son of Allison Heber of Bellevue and William Crites of Bellevue. He is the brother of Zachary Crites. His grandparents are Judy and Jim Heber of Bellevue.
Evan is a 7th grader at Odle Middle School. His interests include math, science, aviation, building with Lego, skiing, camping, reading, swimming, chess, and spending time with his dogs.
David Joseph Loeb
David will celebrate his Bar Mitzvah on February 26, 2011 at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle.
David is the son of Don and JoEllen Loeb of Seattle and the brother of Adam. His grandparents are Frankie and Dick Loeb of Seattle, and Jolene and Thomas Gehl of Seattle.
David is a 7th grader at Seattle Academy. He enjoys baseball, music, and skiing.
For his mitzvah project, David is raising money to purchase adaptive ski equipment for the Outdoors For All Foundation, which provides outdoor experiences for disabled individuals.
Evan Kelly Hemphill
Evan will celebrate his Bar Mitzvah on March 5, 2011 at Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue.
Evan is the son of Cynthia and Dan Hemphill and the brother of Nathan. His grandparents are Phil Flash of Mercer Island, Hellen Wilson of Bellevue, the late Claire Barley Flash, and the late Dale Hemphill.
Evan is a 7th grader at Tyee Middle School. He plays saxophone, enjoys lacrosse, soccer, swimming, and attending Camp Solomon Schechter. For his Bar Mitzvah project, Evan is helping lead a team raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Big Climb on March 20, 2011.
Aaron David Halfon
Aaron will celebrate his Bar Mitzvah on February 26, 2011 at Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue.
Aaron is the son of David and Lisa Halfon and the brother of Tawni Halfon. His grandparents are Lionel Rivers of Sherman Oaks, Calif., the late Louise Rivers, and the late Sultana and Isaac Halfon.
Aaron is an 8th grader at Dimmitt Middle School. He enjoys basketball and swimming. For his Bar Mitzvah project, Aaron is volunteering at Children’s Hospital.
Emanuel Vardi: 95-year-old “Art Rebel” once played for FDR
Famed violist Emanuel Vardi, whose life story encompasses nearly a century of politics, art and music, died at his North Bend home on Jan. 29 at the age of 95. Born April 21, 1915 in Jerusalem, Vardi was accepted to New York’s The Juilliard School when he was 12 years old. He went on to be considered one of the greatest violists of the 20th century. He had a long concert career; worked in early television; and as a conductor, producer, arranger and commissioned fine artist.
“He was a true individual — musically and artistically — and he had a dose of ‘rebel’ in him, so he was always trying new things,” said Lenore Vardi, his wife of 26 years.
Vardi’s father was a respected violinist and violin teacher who started Emanuel on the violin when he was 2-1/2. He attended Juilliard, where he studied violin and viola under Edouard Dethier, but left when he was offered a job with the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini.
During World War II, Vardi joined the U.S. Navy Band. At one point, Eleanor Roosevelt heard Vardi and whisked him to the White House to play viola for FDR. He is one of only two violists in the world to have given a solo recital at Carnegie Hall.
Fine art was a lifelong interest, so Vardi used his GI Bill to study at Florence’s Academia de Belle Arte from 1950-52. After his return to New York, he attended The Art Students League and the Brooklyn Museum Art School, but music was his primary focus.
Throughout his long solo career, Vardi recorded and performed with some of classical music’s biggest stars — Itzhak Perlman, Arthur Rubenstein, Van Cliburn, Vladimir Horowitz — as well as with popular musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone and Barbra Streisand. Vardi conducted orchestras for live performances, movie scores and television and was the South Dakota Symphony’s music director and conductor in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
After a wrist injury, then a fall that hurt his shoulder, Vardi stopped performing in 1993. He gave master classes throughout the world and served as music director of several festivals.
The music-themed paintings of Emanuel and Lenore Vardi surrounded the Greta Matassa Quartet at the 2009 Bellevue Jazz Festival, shortly after they moved to North Bend. Emanuel acted as musical advisor to the Vardi Chamber Players at this past summer’s Snoqualmie Valley Festival of Music while Lenore served as musical director and violinist.
Their art was the centerpiece of two recent shows in Waikiki and is currently featured at the Laurel Tree Gallery in Duvall and Revolution Gallery in Issaquah.
Along with his wife, Vardi is survived by his daughters, Andrea Smith of Fairfield, Iowa and Pauline Normand of Bonsecours, Quebec. Memorial gatherings are expected in the Seattle area in the coming weeks and in New York later this year.
Jamiyya Jeanne Laner
May 15, 1953-January 4, 2011
Jamiyya Jeanne Laner, recent president of Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue, will be remembered by her beloved Jewish and Sufi communities, former employees, family, and numerous friends for her generosity, compassion, integrity, boundless energy, and love. She was born on May 15, 1953 in Kansas City and was raised in Saratoga, Calif. from the age of nine. She died on January 4, 2011 after complications following heart surgery. She was 57.
Jamiyya worked for Washington Mutual for 22 years between 1986 and 2008, rising from main frame computer programmer to vice president of technology. While working full time she earned a Master’s degree at the University of Redlands in 1988. In 2002, she received Washington Mutual’s Star Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the company. After she retired, she continued to meet socially with her Washington Mutual team once a month for dinner.
“We’d worked together for so long it didn’t make sense to break ties,” said Alf Christensen, one of her employees, who called her a natural born leader. “By that time we were friends.”
According to her sister, BJ Weil of Santa Fe, “She had great intellect but was also extremely good with people. She had a wonderful ability to work with and direct and manage people. She was a great one for finding people who were overlooked and making sure they were included.”
Jamiyya reinvented herself many times throughout her life. In 1980, during her 24-year marriage to Don Laner, she converted to Judaism. Following Don’s death in 2000 she met her current husband, Madani Knowles, a practicing Sufi, at a bereavement group at Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue in Encino, Calif.
She embraced Sufism and proceeded to become a Sufi initiate in 2003. She then received the Sufi name Jamiyya, which means “The Gatherer.”
“She gathered people her entire life. She was constantly gathering hearts and souls,” Madani said.
At the time of her death she was completing an Integral Life Coaching certificate and becoming a life coach. A lover of lifelong learning, she attended numerous classes, workshops, and retreats on meditation and spirituality. Local teachers included Jamal Rahman, minister of Seattle’s Interfaith Community Church, Rabbi Ted Falcon, founding Rabbi of Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue, Rabbi Olivier BenHaim, current Bet Alef rabbi, and many others. She also studied with leading thinkers such as Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., a world-renowned expert in mind–body connection.
In 2009, she became secretary of the Seattle Sufi Order. One of her proudest moments was having the honor of hosting Pir Zia Inayat Kahn, head of the Sufi Order, in her and Madani’s home during a weekend course taught at North Seattle Community College.
Concurrently she was an active member of Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue. She and Madani joined the synagogue in Bellevue in 2004. With Rabbi Ted Falcon’s retirement in 2009 and the transition to Bet Alef’s new rabbi, Jamiyya devoted her energy to ensuring the ongoing growth and success of the organization. She joined the Bet Alef board of directors as treasurer in 2009, and rose to president in 2010. Under her leadership, the synagogue launched the Bet Alef Learning Institute, bringing luminary scholars and thinkers to the Seattle area community.
Its first event featured Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, a founder of the Jewish Renewal movement and considered a rabbinic sage, and Jay Michaelson, renowned Jewish scholar and author.
“She personally helped me bring balance between the many priorities that compete for a rabbi’s attention,” Rabbi BenHaim said. “Her highly contagious enthusiasm and dedication lifted all of our hearts. Jamiyya will be remembered as someone who could bring people from many different backgrounds to the same table. All of us will remember her smile, her passion, her unbeatable enthusiasm, her unshakable positive attitude and her ability to put everything in a more compassionate perspective.”
In November 2010, Jamiyya and Madani traveled to Israel with Rabbi BenHaim and a group from Bet Alef, a trip Madani called “a lifelong dream.” Two weeks after returning to Seattle, the couple attended a weeklong Integral Spirituality conference in Monterey, Calif. At the conference they had a chance to work with leading spiritual teachers such as Deepak Chopra and celebrated Rumi interpreter Coleman Barks.
“Every day at the conference was a peak experience,” Madani said. “We sat in the front row every day. She didn’t want to miss a thing. When Coleman Barks read from Rumi, Jamiyya mouthed along, caught his eye, and he kept looking at us. It was like getting a private reading — she was so proud of that.”
Jamiyya suffered a number of chronic health conditions throughout her life, stemming from childhood diabetes. On the way back to Seattle she became short of breath, and underwent emergency heart bypass surgery the next day.
“She was at the top of her game,” Madani said. “She went out on top, radiantly happy.”
A memorial service was held for Jamiyya at Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue on January 9. A tribute fund at Bet Alef has been set up in her name to support programs of special interest to her. Send donations to Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue, P.O. Box 50201, Bellevue, WA 98015, noting the Jamiyya Laner Memorial Fund, or online at http://www.betalef.org.
— Karen Franklin
Debbie Friedman, Jewish songwriter and performer, dies
(JTA) — Debbie Friedman, a popular singer and songwriter who is widely credited with reinvigorating synagogue music, has died.
Friedman died Sunday after being hospitalized in Southern California for several days with pneumonia. She was in her late 50s.
“Debbie influenced and enriched contemporary Jewish music in a profound way,” read a statement published Sunday on the website of the Union for Reform Judaism. “Her music crossed generational and denominational lines and carved a powerful legacy of authentic Jewish spirituality into our daily lives.”
Friedman brought a more folksy, sing-along style to American congregations. In 2007 she was appointed to the faculty of the Reform movement’s cantorial school in a sign that her style had gained mainstream acceptance.
She is best known for her composition “Mi Shebeirach,” a prayer for healing that is sung in many North American congregations.
Friedman released more than 20 albums and performed in sold-out concerts around the world at synagogues, churches, schools and prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall. She received dozens of awards and was lauded by critics worldwide.
“Debbie Friedman was an extraordinary treasure of our movement and an individual of great influence,” said Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. “Twenty-five years ago, North American Jews had forgotten how to sing. Debbie reminded us how to sing, she taught us how to sing. She gave us the vehicles that enabled us to sing. Then she impacted our youth and our camps and, ultimately, from there she impacted our synagogues.
“What happens in the synagogues of Reform Judaism today — the voices of song — are in large measure due to the insight, brilliance and influence of Debbie Friedman.”
Merrik Scott Mochkatel
Scott and Lindsay Mochkatel of San Diego, Calif. welcomed Merrik Schott Mochkatel on September 16, 2010.
Merrik’s grandparents are Mark and Carol Mochkatel of Camano Island, and Ann Wilkens and John Stephens of California. His great grandparents are Morry and Mickie Mochkatel of Bellevue, Phillip Marshall of Mt. Vernon and the late Sally Marshall, Margaret Groom of California and Betty Stephens of California.
Benjamin Joseph Cape
Benjamin will celebrate his Bar Mitzvah on January 22, 2011 at Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation on Mercer Island.
Benjamin is the son of Bonnie and Robbie Cape of Sammamish and the brother of Noah and Dalia. His grandparents are Deanna and Sydney Godel, Michael and Maureen Cape, and Pearl and Michael Caplan, all of Montreal, Quebec.
Benjamin is a 7th grader at the Jewish Day School. He loves all sports, especially swimming and soccer. He is an avid snow and water-skier and last summer participated in his first triathlon. Benjamin loves technology and is also a budding entrepreneur; his business, Benj Sells for You, has been selling people’s “stuff” on eBay since 2008. Benjamin has attended Camp Hatikvah in British Columbia for the past five years.
For his mitzvah project, Benjamin has been volunteering at the Friendship Circle. He has also set up a Youth Mitzvah Fund at the Jewish Federation and has asked his guests to give to his fund in lieu of gifts.
Sabrina Jane Berkman
Sabrina will celebrate her Bat Mitzvah on January 15, 2011 at Temple Beth Am in Seattle.
Sabrina is the daughter of Lisa and Jeffrey Berkman of Kenmore and the brother of Samuel and Sydney. Her grandparents are George and Linda Berkman of Seattle, and Robert and Lois McIntosh of Redmond.
Sabrina is a 7th grader at Kenmore Junior High. She enjoys gymnastics, dancing, and swimming.
For her mitzvah project, Sabrina volunteered at Council House in Seattle.
Tamar Esther Weiss
Jonathan Weiss and Andrea Lesch Weiss welcomed Tamar Esther to the world on June 7, 2010. She was born at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She weighed 8 lbs., 2 oz.
Tamar is the little sister of Avital Rivka and Amiel Moshe and the granddaughter of Millard and Wendy Lesch of Bellevue and Rabbi David and Judy Weiss of Chicago.
Tamar was named in memory of her great-grandmother, Betty Gottesman Lesch.
Noah Hayden Fenton
Former Seattleites Garrett and Jessica Fenton welcomed Noah to the world on October 13, 2010.
Noah is the little brother of Joseph and grandson of Jani Goldberg of Portland, Ore. and Palm Springs, Calif., and Esther and Norman Freedman of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. His great-grandparents are Anita Goldberg of Portland, and Murray Borenstein of Ft. Lauderdale.
Noah was named in honor of his maternal great-grandmother Natalie and his paternal great-grandfather Howard.
Carla Wollach and Jared Sanderson
Carla and Jared were married on August 26, 2010. The ceremony was officiated by Rabbi Chalom of San Diego Chabad at the Dana Hotel in San Diego.
Carla is the daughter Jeff and Yael Wollach of Victoria, B.C. She is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal and is currently a law student.
Jared is the son of Phil and Estelle Sanderson of Vancouver, B.C. His grandparents are Mary Piha Cohen of Seattle, the late Isaac Piha and the late Leon “Cookie” Cohen. He is also a graduate of McGill University and works as an employment consultant.
The couple lives in San Diego.
Ryan will celebrate his Bar Mitzvah on December 18, 2010 at Congregation Kol Ami in Woodinville.
Ryan is the son of Stacy Schill and Ron Kubasta. His grandparents are Stan and Fran Schill of Mercer Island, JoEllen Schill of Bellevue, and the late Marlene (Marlie) Kubasta.
Ryan is an 8th grader at Kenmore Jr. High. He is a Boy Scout, Rank First Class, and a madrich at religious school. His interests include oceanography, swimming, animals, camping, hiking, computers, and reading. For his mitzvah projects, Ryan volunteered at the Jewish Family Service Food Sort and on various Boy Scout projects.
Elliott Jacob Moss
Elliott celebrated his Bar Mitzvah on November 13, 2010 at Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation on Mercer Island.
Elliott is the son of Brian and Brandy Moss of Bellevue. His brother is Ryan Moss. His grandparents are Leon and Phyllis Moss of Spokane, and the late Jacob and Ruth Schwartz.
Elliott is a 7th grader at Vista Academy. He enjoys many sports, including soccer and basketball, but mostly loves baseball. He has played Little League for the past six years. He has also attended Camp Solomon Schechter for the past five years. For his mitzvah project, Elliott has been and will continue to fundraise and volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alaska, Montana, Northern Idaho and Washington.
Levy Jon Daniels
Ruty and Will Daniels of Seattle welcomed Levy to the world on April 2, 2010.
Levy is the little brother of Theo and the grandson of Ted and Barbara Daniels of Seattle and the late Fortune Sorrell. His great-grandparents are Bill and Carolyn Danz of Seattle.
Violet Esme Bender
Leila and Michael Bender of Seattle welcomed Violet to the world on September 21, 2010. She was born at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. She measured 19-1/2 inches long and weighed 7 lbs., 4 oz.
Violet is the little sister of Amaya and the granddaughter of Catherine and Robert Clark of Woodinville and Yvonne and Allan Bender of Bellevue.
Josie Darleen Mermelstein
Josie will celebrate her Bat Mitzvah on December 4, 2010 at Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue.
Josie is the daughter of Rich and Julie Mermelstein of Bellevue and sister of Ellie. Her grandparents are Steve and Cheri Mermelstein and Ray and Darleen Horton.
Josie is an 8th grader at Tillicum Middle School. She is a member of the National Junior Honor Society, ASB, dive team, tennis team, and volleyball team. She also enjoys theater and singing. For her Bat Mitzvah project, Josie is raising awareness and money for Nothing But Nets to stop the spread of malaria in Africa.
Longtime community activist was devoted to the rights of women and the Jewish community
Merrily McManus Laytner: August 27, 1942–October 24, 2010
Merrily McManus Laytner was born in Seattle on August 27, 1942 and, although born to Jewish parents, did not know she was Jewish until she was 9 years old. In the 4th grade, her teacher told his class how he was a refugee from Europe and of the great suffering he had endured. When Merrily related this to her mother, she was told that, like the teacher, she too was Jewish. That encounter with her teacher — the late and beloved Cantor Joseph Frankel of Herzl- Ner Tamid — sparked a lifelong involvement with the Jewish community, starting with the youth choir of Temple de Hirsch.
After getting an MFA from the Otis Art Institute, Merrily returned to Seattle and started a family with her then-husband, Sam Cordova. She became active in the Jewish community, teaching art classes for seniors at the Jewish Community Center while her children were in daycare there. Still later, she entered the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s Young Leadership program and, following Michael Schuffler’s lead, she became active in the Jewish Federation’s former Community Relations Council, during which time she served as chair, co-founded a statewide organization (the now-defunct Washington Association of Jewish Communities) and helped design and implement annual statewide political action/Jewish cultural conferences. For these accomplishments, she was awarded the Spitzer Family Young Leadership Award.
Moving from lay leader to professional in 1984, Merrily was hired as the Jewish Federation’s first Women’s Division director. During the next five years, she brought a new intensity to that program, adding a serious dose of feminism to its work. Contributions increased by 70 percent in three years and in 1987 the program was recognized for having achieved the largest Women’s Division increase in North America.
In 1989 Merrily was promoted to the position of campaign director, and led the Federation’s overall fundraising activities during a particularly exciting time when the Jewish community was absorbing Soviet Jewish immigrants and organizing the exodus of Ethiopian Jewry. In 1993, her development team brought in $5 million for the annual campaign and an additional $6.4 million for the second-line Operation Exodus campaign.
Her proudest accomplishment during this period, however, was to co-found with the late Shirley Bridge, Michele Rosen, Janet Gray, Karen Mayers Gamoran, the late Babs Fisher, Lucy Pruzan and others the Women’s Endowment Foundation, a supporting foundation that provided the seed money and for many years sustained Jewish Family Service’s Project DVORA as well as other programs benefiting women and children. For all this work, she was awarded the Shirley Bridge Power of One Award by the Women’s Endowment Foundation in 2000.
In 1993, Merrily left the Federation to become vice president of the Woodland Park Zoological Society, running the zoo’s external relations. For six years she worked to design and implement the first phase of a $125 million comprehensive private/public campaign to address the current and future capital and programmatic needs of Woodland Park Zoo. During that time, many new exhibits were funded and built, and zoo membership grew by 33 percent.
In 1999, just before her first bout with ovarian cancer, Merrily formed her own development consulting firm and counted among her clients the Cascade Land Conservancy, Museum of History and Industry, Woodland Park Zoological Society, Seattle Girl’s School, Artist Trust, Multifaith Works, and the International Snow Leopard Trust.
But Merrily’s heart was never far from the Jewish community and she remained active both as a volunteer and a professional fundraiser. Merrily provided the expertise and passion for campaigns resulting in expanded programs and beautiful new spaces for Hillel Foundation at the University of Washington, the Union of Reform Judaism’s Camp Kalsman, and the soon-to-be-constructed Jewish Family Service of Seattle. She also drafted a strategic plan for the Stroum JCC’s Early Childhood Development Center. Throughout her Jewish communal career, Merrily mentored and inspired hundreds of women professionals, volunteers and lay leaders.
In addition to her professional career, Merrily was an accomplished artist whose paintings and sculptures grace the homes of many in Seattle and elsewhere.
Merrily was married to Rabbi Anson Laytner for 24 wonderful years and between them shared three daughters: the late Amy Cordova Myers (Michael), Anna Cordova Reichstein (Daryl) and Miryam Laytner; four grandchildren whom she adored: Jackson and Nico Myers, and Gabriella and Jacob Reichstein.
Ovarian cancer claimed Merrily’s life on October 24, 2010/17 Heshvan 5770. Her funeral was held at Hillel; more than 300 people came to see her off. Devoted friend Rabbi Dan Bridge presided on that sad and rainy day.
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