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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


12/07/2020 10:03:39 AM


I'm still absorbing the outstanding Shalomathon event, but I wanted to share my thank you letter to our organizers: Joshua Levy and Bruce Corman:

Joshua and Bruce,

I think the first meeting I had once I started as president was with the two of you. You were anxious for some guidance on what to do with securing the venue for our planned gala.  Through previous meetings, you laid out a plan for a ‘not your typical rubber...Read more...


11/03/2020 01:47:53 PM


Steve Fintel

I've been approached a few times on the topic of volunteering. At the surface, it sounds like an easy topic to address. Here's a congregant that wants to help, so let's take advantage of that, right?

The recipe for success is multidimensional. We first need to evaluate where we need help, both in areas that we know about as well as new opportunities we haven't yet given thought to. Then we need to understand where the person offering...Read more...

Thoughts on High Holy Days and returning to the building

10/06/2020 02:31:14 PM


Steve Fintel

L'shanah tovah, everyone. It looks like we made it through High Holy Days 5781. I think our staff, clergy and HHD chair people have earned (yet another) hearty thank you for putting together a meaningful prayer experience. As I have said before, they had no template to draw from in creating this year's services. They created everything from scratch. And as Rabbi Freedman pointed out, there was more than double the effort.  In order for...Read more...

Tue, March 2 2021 18 Adar 5781