MoTAS Weekly 09/30/20: We’re Going to Mars on Oct 11

MoTAS Weekly Newsletter In This Issue:

  3. Sukkah Building UPDATE


To my friends in The Men of TAS and our temple,

Every year we celebrate our Jewish and secular new year’s holidays with gratitude for the past year and hopes and dreams for a happy and healthy coming year.  This Rosh Hashana is no different but it is completely unique.  While it has been very difficult for many, we finish the last year knowing that our friends and family have successfully met the challenges life has brought us.  One of the things that have made it easier has been the online gatherings we have enjoyed together through MoTAS and temple activities.  Whether we like to Zoom or not, we enjoy seeing the faces of our friends.  The coming year may bring more of the same, at least for a while, but we can look forward to our frequent comradery via our interaction online.  We know that we are there for each other and there are so many we call our friends who wish us well.  I hope that the coming year is good to you and your families and that it is not too long before we can enjoy each other’s company together again. La Shana Tova!

Howard Miller
President, The Men of Temple Ahavat Shalom

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Starting at 9:00 am, our October meeting will be very special as we are in for a real treat. TAS’s own space scientist from Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Scott Gore, will be presenting a talk on the mission to Mars, including the Perseverance Rover and the Mars Helicopter. Scott’s presentation will be held at 9:45 sharp so that anyone interested in one of the nation’s most visible space programs can participate at that time.

Scott’s career has been in electrical, electro-mechanical, and electronic parts. His work was mostly in radar, missile, and communications systems until he came to JPL in 2017, when he started applying his  experience to space components.

Since starting at JPL, a big part of his work has been on the Mars 2020 program, which recently resulted in the launch of the Perseverance Rover which is now on its way to Mars. He will talk about the flight – distance, speed, duration, and where Perseverance is going on Mars. He will also talk about the Perseverance Rover, the instruments on it, and the science goals for the mission. If there is time, he will talk about some of the challenges for robotic exploration of the solar system, and future missions planned.

Join Zoom Meeting:
Contact Howard for URL

Meeting ID: xxx xxxx xxxx (if needed)
Passcode: ******

Dial by your location if connecting via cell phone:
+1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose and Los Angeles)
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York).

Perseverance Rover with Mars Helicopter

Perseverance Rover with Mars Helicopter

Europa mission visualization

Europa mission visualization

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3. Sukkah Building UPDATE

MoTAS offered to build the Sukkah this year, even with masks and gloves. However, we could not get the necessary permits without adding air conditioning, air scrubbers, water fountains and Covid19 inspection stations. We were willing to try but it was pointed out that the Torah explicitly forbids the use of electrical power. After all, Moses never stayed in the same place long enough to pay his water and power bills.

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At 2pm on Sunday October 18, TAS Sisterhood and our Social Action Committee will be hosting our own Fran Lapides, a representative of The League of Women Voters.  Fran will be describing the 2020 General Election propositions and ballot measures we are all going nuts trying to figure out on our own.  Information for participation via Zoom will soon be provided in the TAS weekly publication.

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Date: Sunday, September 13, 2020 Via Zoom Due to Social Isolation Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Presiding: President Howard Miller

Members Present: Howard Miller (President), Hal Bass (Secretary), Les Birken, Yale Doberne, Daniel Faigin (Past President), Ken Feldman, Scott Gore, Brian Hatkoff, Fred Kimmel, Al Lapides, Ed Lapporte, Bob Levine, Roger Lowe (Treasurer), Joel Lowell, Fabian Malinovitz, Barry Mann, William Moalem, Chuck Mondrus, Mark Moskowitz, Jeff Neiman, Larry Pfefer (VP), Russ Rapoport (VP), Mike Rayfield, Bill Shapiro, Bernie Singer, Sandy Stern, Mike Thornhill, Les Wieder, Ken Wolf, Terry Zonnis

Guests: Mel Birken, Gloria Katcher, Helene Kimmel, Fran Lapides, Ellen Lowe, Andy Mann, Laraine Miller, Elaine Pfefferman, Sheila Reback, Tammy Singer, Sandy Zonnis

President’s Report:

Howard began the meeting by asking those present to guess who belonged to a secret clue that MoTAS members submitted to him about themselves.

Current temple membership of 233 reflects a loss of 10% from the previous year, whereas many congregations, Howard said, are down 25%.

MoTAS has provided $10,800 in direct support for temple needs.

Howard expressed appreciation to Barry Mann for the Dining Does Good program.

Larry Pfefer announced that TAS is connected to broadband throughout the sanctuary and school buildings, including the alarm system. Broadband is also available to first responders. The next step is to livestream Shabbat and other religious services via WiFi.

MoTAS donated $1,350 from the Pride Campaign towards a beautification project to landscape the area in front of the school office. Howard thanked Dr. William Moalem for designing this project and completing it.

The TAS custodial crew will build the sukkah this year.

For our October 11 meeting, MoTAS will extend an invitation to the entire congregation, as well as to our Hebrew and Religious School students, to attend Scott Gore’s presentation about the Mars project.

Bob Levine encouraged MoTAS members and guests to purchase football squares so we can reach our goal of 100 squares sold.

Treasurer’s Report, as of 09/11/20:

Income: $0 to date in fiscal year that began July 1


  • Sisterhood New Year honey jars: $72
  • Pancake breakfast kits: $89

Sports Squares Distributions:

  • Exit sign lighting upgrades not covered by DWP: $1,500 (funds not yet allocated)
  • WiFi upgrade: $5,000

Sports Squares:

Prior Years Sports Squares funds: $5,995

2020-21 Football Squares:

  • Income: $1,188
  • Held in PayPal account for possible refunds: $608
  • Winners paid out: $0

Total Sports Squares Funds Available for Distribution: $7,183 ($5,995+S1,188)

New Business:

2020-21 Budget: The budget was prepared by Howard and MoTAS treasurer Roger Lowe. This is a conservative document with a planned likely deficit due to a potential for reduced income and the fact that MoTAS must plan for various activities to take place even though it is possible, if not likely, that they will be canceled as a result of the virus. It was agreed that the point of our MoTAS savings is to assist the group in difficult times like these. Daniel Faigin moved that the budget be accepted; Bob Levine seconded the motion; and it carried unanimously.

November 13 Shabbat Service to Honor Veterans: Hal Bass, Bob Levine and Roger Lowe have been in touch with Rabbi Becky about a Shabbat service to honor TAS members who have served in the military on active duty or in the reserves or National Guard. Hal will contact Aaron Solomon after Yom Kippur to send out a request via temple messaging asking TAS members to identify themselves as veterans. The information sought will be name, branch of service, years of service, highest rank attained, names of immediate family members (parents, siblings, children, grandparents) who also might have served, and to indicate whether the veteran plans to attend the November 13 service.

Educational Presentation: Dr. William Moalem shared his experience while living in Shanghai during the war years. His paternal grandparents were from the British Protectorate of Aden and his maternal grandparents from Russia. (The name Moalem means scholar or teacher in Arabic.)

William’s parents met in Shanghai and married there. Because William’s older sister held a British passport and William was a U.S. citizen–he was born in San Francisco, after which his mom returned to Shanghai to join William’s dad in business—the family was placed in a Japanese internment camp for American and British subjects following the outbreak of war on December 7, 1941.

William described the harsh conditions under which his family was forced to live while confined to the Shanghai camp, the PTSD from which he suffered, his early school years in Hong Kong, and his family’s eventual resettlement in San Francisco.

This was a riveting presentation, which was well-received and which generated a number of excellent questions from the audience of MoTAS members and guests.

Adjournment and Next MoTAS Meeting: The next meeting will be held by Zoom on Sunday, October 11, 2020, at 9:00 am. Our guest speaker will be JPL scientist and TAS member, Scott Gore, who will discuss the mission to Mars.

Respectfully submitted,

Hal Bass/Secretary

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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. Sign up for our action alert list at 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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