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A New Rabbi

05/04/2021 10:51:39 AM


Steve Fintel

I'm sure I'm not the first one telling you this, but we have a new rabbi at Temple Beth Shalom. At a special congregation meeting on April 21, the 157 members in attendance voted by overwhelming majority to approve Rabbi Eleanor Steinman's three year contract to serve as our rabbi. Unfortunately, we couldn't punctuate this moment with the applause Rabbi Steinman deserves. 

At Erev Shabbat services April 30, we got...

An ordinary event is remarkable

04/05/2021 01:34:21 PM


Steve Fintel

I attended a remarkable event this past weekend. It really should have been pretty ordinary, but it wasn't. Temple Beth Shalom had an outdoor event to celebrate the (near) end of Passover. Scheduled to occur late on a Saturday afternoon, we threw in a Havadalah observance as well (a Jewish two-fer if you will). 

Even the weather was ordinary. It wasn't one of our stunning central Texas spring days. Instead it was overcast and in...Read more...

Do you remember the Benchmark Survey

03/04/2021 02:34:55 PM


Steve Fintel

During the high holy days, we asked everyone to fill out (yet another) survey. This one was put together by the URJ and consisted of 3 parts: a financial and operating data benchmarking tool, a qualitative board self-assessment and a congregation wide survey. Staff provided the data for first part, the board graded ourselves for the second part and you (the congregants) filled out the last part. As part of our request to take part in the...Read more...

Allow me to Kvell a little

02/04/2021 09:09:56 PM


Steve Fintel

I consider myself lucky in my role as president. First, I'm backed up by an Executive Director and Senior Rabbi who at various times in their life were congregation presidents. I get great advice from both of them in their paid roles as well as when I ask them to take off their official hats and tell me what they would do as president. Having such quality backup makes it easier for me to navigate this role.

But what makes my job...

Is January too late to play Dredel?

01/06/2021 09:46:27 AM


Steve Fintel

Even with the strangest alignments of the lunar and Julian calendars, by January 4 we've all lit the last candle on the Chanukiah. But January 4, 2021 marked a unique Hanukah observance for Temple Beth Shalom. Allow me to explain:

A few months ago, Temple Beth Shalom congregant (and former president) Gail Miller contacted to talk about the Dreidel sculpture located near the main entrance at the JCC. It was going to need relocation during the ongoing construction there. She wondered if we would be willing to host Marcia Raff's beautiful 102" tall Dreidel Labyrinth© sculpture on our site during the construction period.

I had always admired this beautiful piece. It's stunning simplicity belies it's bewildering complexity. Standing directly in front, you see the outline of a dreidel that wraps around an inner dreidel. You immediately recognize what at first appear to be concentric lines that gradually transition from the outer to the inner dreidel. But you quickly realize these lines actually form a labyrinth maze that take you from the stem on top to the inner dreidel in the center. Then walk around to any side; the sculpture makes ingenious use of projecting a two dimensional object into 3 dimensions and the labyrinth is now all the way around.

In late October, board members Laraine Lasdon, Leslie Otis and I met Marcia to measure the sculpture and discuss where to place the approximately 1200 lb (including the steel platform it rests on) work of art. We found the perfect location along the walkway at the front of our building. At that time, Marcia explained to us that the sculpture was going to take the long path on its way to the front of our building. For the second year in a row, it was to be featured at the Austin Trail of Lights and it would be available to us at the conclusion of its gig at The Trail.

Which brings us to January 4.  With the Trail of Lights final night on January 3, it was trucked back on campus the next day. A rented fork lift gingerly placed it in front of our building. The whole process was documented here

Dreidel Labyrinth sculpture in front of Temple Beth Shalom building

If you would like to learn more about the story behind this sculpture, have a look at The Story of The Dreidel Labyrinths©.

We're planning to have an event to celebrate the Dreidel Labyrinth's© arrival and we'll let you know when that will happen, but in the meantime, if you find yourself on campus, drive by our front entrance and enjoy our latest addition.

If you have any questions or comments (about the sculpture or anything else related to Temple Beth Shalom), feel free to drop me EMail here (

--Steve Fintel

Fri, May 14 2021 3 Sivan 5781