MoTAS Weekly for 9/30/15: The Saga of a Sukkah

MoTAS Weekly NewsletterIn This Issue:



Hopefully, by now you’ve been up to Temple and seen the wonderful Sukkah constructed by the Men of TAS. Did you know that we almost didn’t have a Sukkah? Therein lies a story that demonstrates how the men of this congregation come together in times of need.

As you know, construction of the Sukkah was scheduled for Sunday morning. Our usual supplier of palm fronds, a local gardening company, was scheduled to deliver them Wednesday. They weren’t delivered, and when we followed up Thursday, we discovered that they had had an equipment failure and were unable to deliver any fronds. Not only to us, but to many congregations in the Valley.

Robert Levin contacted me, and a call went out to the men of the congregation. First to respond was Barry Krowne, a man who is always there for this congregation. Barry arranged for 30 fronds to be delivered Saturday from his gardener. Thirty fronds was a great start, but based on previous years, we needed at least 120.

Next to respond was Frank Soronow. He had some contacts down in La Puente, and was confirming how many we needed. We told him, and he made arrangements. He was going to rent a truck Friday night, and drive down Saturday to load them; we would help unload them when he got to temple.

I should note that Larry Hoffman also responded with fronds, available for the taking from his back yard.

Saturday morning arises. Barry’s gardener shows up… with 100 fronts, not 30. Frank then shows up. He tells a story about how when he got to La Puente, there were two companies trying to provide him fronds. One wanted to charge a large amount per frond. The other… had just had a large order for a wide variety of freshly cut fronds fall through. When they heard it was for a religious institution, they worked out a deal with Frank for all sorts of palms — large, small, tall, short. Frank returned to the synagogue with the wide variety of fronds you see on our lovely Sukkah. Thanks for Rick Mervis, Larry Hoffman, and Bob Levin for helping to unload. Additionally, an art project made the wonderful panels the covered almost half of the walls of the Sukkah, meaning we actually needed fewer fronds. We went from having none to having a surplus.

Construction occured Sunday morning, and you’ve seen the beautiful result. Thank you to all the volunteers that helped construct the Sukkah: Mike Rayfield, Rick Mervis, Joel Lowell, Mike Thornhill, Sandy Stern, Daniel Faigin, Bob Levine, Larry Hoffman, Roger Lowe, Eric Lowe, Frank Soronow, Bob Levin, Howard Lubin, Kathy Pullman, Joe Blachman, Rabbi Lutz, and Dave Friedman. Special thanks to Bob Levin, who every year goes above and beyond coordinating our Sukkah construction, we couldn’t do it without him.

P.S. Normally, our fronds are donated. This year we had some unexpected costs, which are being split between MoTAS and the Temple at large. Donations are welcome to offset those costs: please contact Roger Lowe our treasurer, or donate online at

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For months I’ve been exhorting you to help with the golf tournament. The committee is getting the sponsors lined up, and we’re filling the silent auction table. What we need now is YOU. We need you go take Monday, October 19th off and come out and play. We need YOU to talk to your friends and get them to come out and play on the course. A day on the course is a wonderful gift. It is a wonderful way to get to know potential clients and business associates better. Playing golf is a wonderful way to network.

We will only succeed with a large contingent of players. If you can, we urge you to come to the 2015 Annual MoTAS Charity Golf Tournament on Monday, October 19, 2015 at Calabasas Country Cluband play. The entry fee is $215 per player, and that includes a full day on the course as well as a continental breakfast, full lunch, and full dinner buffet, together with after dinner entertainment. Compared to similar events, this is such a bargain! You can sign up online at For a special flyer targeted to players, visit

More information, including online and printable signup forms and donation forms, is available at or call Barry Mann at 818-360-8881 . Here are some more useful links:

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Join the Men of TAS on Sunday, October 11th at 8:45 AM in Activity Center 3/4 for a scrumptious breakfast typically consisting of bagels, lox, eggs, cookies, fruit, juice, and coffee/tea (donations appreciated). Our normal monthly meeting (d’var torah, introductions, and a review of upcoming activities), starts at 9:00 AM, followed by our speaker at 10:00 AM. This month, our topic is Al Capone:

Prohibition went into effect on January 17, 1920, Al Capone’s 21st birthday. By then, the Brooklyn-born son of respectable, hard-working Neapolitan immigrants had moved to Chicago, a city whose mayor and police department he would eventually own. “Scarface,” from a deep gash he suffered on the left side of his face during a barroom fight, consolidated his takeover of illegal liquor distribution, prostitution, loan-sharking and other rackets through the infamous St. Valentine’s Day massacre on February 14, 1929.

Capone was ultimately convicted of income tax evasion and sent to federal prison in 1932. There, he was diagnosed with neurosyphilis, which he had acquired years earlier while “sampling the merchandise” at a Chicago brothel where he had worked as a bouncer. Paroled in 1939 after prison psychologists determined he now had the mind of a child, Capone retired to his estate on Palm Island, Florida, and died there in 1947, just shy of his 48th birthday.

To learn more about Capone, his associates and successors, and the activities which earned him the moniker, “Public Enemy No. 1,” you are cordially invited to attend the MoTAS meeting on Sunday morning, October 11, where Dr. Hal Bass will tell us about mobdom’s most notorious figure. The title of Hal’s informative PowerPoint presentation is “Al ‘Scarface’ Capone: The Rise and Fall of Public Enemy No. 1.”

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On Sunday, October 18th at 6:00 PM, the bi-monthly Men-Only Men’s Hang-Out and Discussion Groups resume. These meetings provide an opportunity for the Men of TAS to socialize, eat good food and discuss topics openly and confidentially from a men’s perspective. They provide a time for us to get to know each other more in depth and enjoy a few laughs. They take place at a host member’s home where we enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed atmosphere. We hang out for the first hour swapping life’s stories while enjoying a meal together. Some men have a lot to say and others just enjoy listening to the banter back and forth. During the second half of the evening we bring up an interesting question about how we think or feel about certain aspects of life from a Jewish perspective. This month’s question is: “What Jewish Values do we want to see in the ideal Presidential Candidate?” Our group has dynamic opinions, which make for lively conversation. At the end of the evening we all respect each other’s right to an opinion and have a deeper appreciation for where our values came from.

This hang-out will be a dinner meeting with pizza, desserts, and refreshments. If you will be able to attend, please RSVP at or call Dave Friedman, 818-360-2323, or email

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At the September 20 MoTAS Meeting, we learned about the upcoming Mitzvah Day on November 1st, and the campaign that TAS is embarking upon of “50 Mitzvot for 50 Years”. A number of suggestions were made of possible mitzvot that MoTAS could undertake:

  • Helping homeless men at San Fernando Mission
  • Working with Tree People to replant trees
  • Assising with Pet Orphans
  • Undertaking additional repair work in the TAS kitchen — washing walls and repainting

At this point, MoTAS is looking for two things. First and foremost, we’re looking for a volunteer to coordinate the MoTAS Manly Mitzvah — serving as liasion to the TAS Mitzvah Day committee, and leading the MoTAS effort for Mitzvah Day/50 Mitzvot. Second, we’re looking for your input regarding what MoTAS should do. Does one of the ideas above interest you. Are there other mitzvot you think we should be doing?

Please let us know. You can volunteer, or send your mitzvah suggestions, to

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As always, remember that the Men of Temple Ahavat Shalom is *your* organization. Keep up to date on our activities at and participate. We want to serve all the men of Temple Ahavat Shalom and welcome new participants from the TAS membership. Join our Facebook group and “follow” our website. Come be part of the Men of Temple Ahavat Shalom!

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