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COS honors Lefkov and Feldman at Simchat Torah services


Congregation Ohev Shalom is proud to announce this year’s Simchat Torah honorees. They will be honored during our Simchat Torah services on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 beginning at 9:30 a.m. A Kiddush luncheon sponsored by the Barry & Vivian Woods Funds and The Congregation will follow the service.

This year’s Kalat Torah, called to the Torah for the last reading of the book of Deuteronomy, is Irwin Feldman. The award is presented annually for long-term service and participation in the community’s and the congregation’s religious, programming and volunteer efforts.

The Kalat B’reisheet honoree this year, called to the Torah for the first Aliyah from the Book of Genesis, is Carol Lefkov. This award is presented to recognize members for their personal and increasing commitment to Judaism and COS.

Irwin Feldman was born and raised in New York City where he met and married his wife Rita more than 50 years ago. They have two sons, Kenneth and Steven. The Feldmans were founding members of the Manetto Hill Jewish Center in Plainview, N.Y., where Feldman also served as president. They moved to Maitland, Fla., 35 years ago, and immediately started looking for a conservative synagogue with emphasis on finding a quality Jewish education for Steven, who was to be a bar mitzvah in less than two years. They decided that COS offered the type of Jewish environment for themselves and their children. Over the years they became deeply involved in all aspects of congregational life.

Feldman chaired the Youth Committee, the 75th Anniversary Committee, the Library Committee, and more recently, the Move Committee. He also served on the board as a trustee and treasurer. Currently, he serves as a member of the Adult Programming, Membership and Ma’asim Tovim committees, as well as assisting with the monthly bulletin mailings. He has collected and organized all of the congregation’s historical records and is in the process of writing a history of COS. In addition to attending religious services on a regular basis, Feldman enjoys attending the adult education given by Rabbis Rubinger and Kay, and is extremely grateful to Rabbi Adler for introducing him to the Talmud, attending his weekly Talmud class for more than 12 years. After retirement a dozen years ago, Feldman volunteered for many years at the Jewish Family Services Pearlman Food Pantry and at Kinneret, where he helped Don Kaplan manage the convenience store for the residents and helped the Kinneret residents apply for Medicaid and food stamps. He also started volunteering at the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center, where among his volunteer duties is running the library. In his spare time, Feldman is occupied with researching their family histories. He has served as vice-president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Central Florida. His other hobby is working with stained glass.

Although he earned a B.S. in physics, Feldman’s entire working career has been in the aerospace Industry, both as an engineer and in management. He has invented many products and holds several patents. During his career, he helped design, fabricate and install an automated system that controlled the planetarium projector and its audio-visual equipment for the Einstein Planetarium at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. After moving to Florida, he worked on the Space Shuttle at the Kennedy Space Center, and was part of the management team that produced the Patriot Missiles that were deployed to Israel during the first Gulf War. Feldman retired in 2001 as vice-president of an aerospace company in Orlando

Last year, Irwin and Rita celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with family and friends. Over the years they have formed many friendships and have worked with many members whose enthusiasm, hard work and commitment have made them proud to be associated with COS.

The Kalat B’reisheet honoree, Carol Lefkov, was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in the D.C. and Maryland suburbs. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland and graduate degree at Indiana University before coming to Orlando in 1972. After spending a few years looking for a “synagogue match,” she joined Congregation Ohev Shalom in the mid 70s. While continuing to participate in religious and social activities at COS and in the broader Jewish community, she didn’t become a “regular” at services until 1996-97 while saying Kaddish for her father.  It was at that time that Rabbi Rubinger introduced the Project Ezra study program at Friday night services and Lefkov was “hooked.”

Since then, she has greatly increased her participation in synagogue life, discovering numerous opportunities to increase her knowledge of Judaism and Jewish culture and history.  About 10 years ago, Lefkov decided she needed to increase her “brain exercise” and chose Cantor Robuck’s Torah reading class.  As a result, she has become a frequent Torah reader (and occasional Haftarah reader).  And for the past two years, Lefkov has served COS by coordinating Torah readers, a very detailed and important element of our congregation’s Shabbat and holiday observance.

When Lefkov retired after working for 32 years for Orange County Schools as a speech/language pathologist, she had more time to “do whatever I want” and her contributions to Congregation Ohev Shalom have been many.  They include organizing the Ahavat Olam (Keeping Faith with the plant) “Green Fair” in 2010, coordinating the Bikur Cholim to notify “team members” about people who would like to be visited in the hospital, and organizing a guest speaker program with Orlando Sentinel columnist Greg Dawson. She also volunteers in the Judaica shop, Community Care Team, Ma’asim Tovim, Social Action, and Sisterhood board and is helping to produce the 5774 Yizkor book.

Lefkov puts Jewish values into action outside the synagogue as well.  She is reminded of Maimonides as a devoted volunteer and founding board member of the local Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit, fair trade organization which partners with artisans in developing countries to give them a market so they can make a living for themselves and their families.  As a member of Friendship Force International, which fosters interactions and friendships among people around the world, Lefkov is reminded of the many references in the Torah to “welcome the stranger.” And she shows her interest in the conservation of animals and the environment through memberships in many organizations including The American Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (ASPNI).

Lefkov’s passions include spending time with friends, U.S. and international travel, photography, political campaigns, bird watching, raising butterflies, hiking, and camping. A guiding quote is: “Live for today, plan for tomorrow. Expect the unexpected.”      

COS invites the community to join them Simchat Torah Friday morning, Sept. 27, at 9:30 a.m. to celebrate this significant holiday of continuity and recognize these deserving honorees.


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