Chanukah celebration kicks off new Moorestown Jewish Association
Back in the mid-1970s, Adrienne Seligman, a resident of Moorestown since 1965, listened to her daughter express her high anxiety about missing a major math test that was being given on Yom Kippur at a Moorestown public school.
The teacher refused to budge on the timing of the exam. Ultimately, Seligman did more than just listen to her upset daughter. She stood up at a Moorestown School Board meeting and addressed its members with passion and conviction, explaining that this timing was unfair and should be reconsidered.
“I was quite nervous—I’d never done anything like this before,” Seligman recalled recently. And while it was too late to alter that circumstance, Adrienne Seligman was ultimately successful in her quest for more sensitivity to Jewish students. The next year, and from then on, Moorestown public schools have been closed on Yom Kippur.
Adrienne and Joe Seligman were on hand on Dec. 2, when the newly-formed Moorestown Jewish Association held its first event, a Chanukah party at the Moorestown Community House. The party drew over 150 Jewish men, women and children.
The group, which established itself this fall, is committed to “…building and sustaining an open and welcoming community of Jewish residents of Moorestown,” as its mission statement reads.
Launched by a handful of concerned Jewish residents, the group was acting in part as a response to several past events in the town. In one instance, a major annual Moorestown fall festival was scheduled on Yom Kippur, 2011. In another instance, some Nazi memorabilia was in evidence on a public house tour. When several Jewish residents objected to that in the general press, their response drew some unpleasant replies that some people thought were tinged with antisemitism.
These incidents were part of the impetus for several
Moorestown residents to come together to try to raise consciousness and also to foster connection among the local Jewish residents.
“It’s important, however, to emphasize that this organization is all about positive things,” said Robert Schwartz, one of the organizers of the Moorestown Jewish Association. The group is co-chaired by Amy Covert, Ann-Linn Glaser, and Dimitri Schneiberg.
The Chanukah event featured Rabbi Benjamin David of Mount Laurel’s Temple Adath Emanu-El speaking on the meaning of the holiday, Klezmer music, spirited dancing, craft projects, and, of course, potato latkes.
“This is just wonderful,” said Louise Katz, a Moorestown resident since 1974 who now has grandchildren living in the town. Katz, who has served on the board of Samost Jewish Family and Children’s Service since 1994, feels that the younger generations will surely benefit from the social/cultural opportunities that the organization will provide.
Hoped-for projects include, but are no limited to, interfaith activities in Moorestown, community service, and also the building of a strong, sustainable Jewish network in the township.
For Dimitri Schneiberg, who emigrated from the former Soviet Union, the issue is clear: “There are Jews in Moorestown, but there has not been a Jewish community.”
Ann-Linn Glaser feels strongly that the creation of the group gives “positive visibility” to the small community of Jewish residents. “It will be wonderful to make others aware of our holidays, our customs and our commitment to Tikkun Olam,” said Glaser.
Glaser’s husband Larry, who teaches Holocaust Studies at Stockton College, sees an even larger picture of heritage, and the inherent strength that groups such as this can offer to future generations. “This Association may chronicle the social contributions and charitable works that have always marked our Jewish history.”
For Shelley Zeiger, that history is always with him. A Holocaust survivor, Zeiger and his wife Marion, attended the Chanukah celebration in Moorestown with great enthusiasm and appreciation for the new organization.
“We’ve been in Moorestown for 43 years,” said Marion Zeiger, whose son and daughter grew up in Moorestown. “Now we have grandchildren growing up here, so for us, this is quite a day!”
For more information about the Moorestown Jewish Association, visit www.Moorestown- JewishAssociation.webs.com .