Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Congregation Beth Am honored Leavitts and Aschers on Simchat Torah


Congregation Beth Am Simchat Torah honorees for 5774 were (l-r): Myron Ascher, Allyson Ascher, Jeri Leavitt, Jack Leavitt.

Simchat Torah is one of the most joyous days in the Jewish year. On this day, synagogues and Jewish communities throughout the world study the closing words of Deuteronomy and immediately recite the opening words of Genesis. Acknowledging that the study of Torah is endless the last aliya with its theme of the death of Moses is followed immediately by the first aliya with its theme of creation. The highest congregational honor one can receive is to be called to the Torah for the “last” aliya or for the “first aliya.” An honoree for these aliyot is referred to as hatan/groom or kala/bride. Beth Am chose two exceptional couples to receive special Simchat Torah honors this year. For all of them, Congregation Beth Am has become deeply entwined in their lives and benefitted greatly from their contributions.

Jeri and Jack Leavitt were honored as kala and hatan Torah. Their union is a Beth Am romance. Jack had been a member of Beth Am for 11 years when he met Jeri at a Memorial Day service at Beth Am in 1995. Both having lost their spouses, they started dating after this auspicious introduction and were married on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, one year later. Jack the gemologist and Jeri the jewel in his life have been an integral “behind the scenes” part of Beth Am since then. Jack edited the congregation’s bulletin for several years; but he is best known to the children of the Beth Am religious school as “Papa Jack,” the school’s photographer. Jeri has volunteered to do whatever is asked of her. She has worked in the Beth Am office, cooked latkes for Chanukah parties, co-chaired Sisterhood and even picks up challahs so that motzei could be said every Friday night and Shabbat morning. Fortunate to have children living in the Orlando area, Jack and Jeri enjoy their active retirement as a vital part of the Beth Am family.

Allyson and Myron Ascher were honored as kala and hatan Braysheet. Members of Beth Am since moving to Central Florida from New Jersey in 1992, they saw their sons Joshua and Daniel become bar mitzvah on the Beth Am bima. Myron, a human resources manager for more than 30 years and presently managing a benefits program for a California-based insurance company, has served Beth Am in many capacities. He is on the bima every Shabbat as a gabbai, regularly reads Torah and is a Ba’al Tefila when needed. He is also part of the High Holy Day Torah reading squad. He is a past vice president of religious activities on the Beth Am Board of Directors. Allyson is a nurse and certified case manager working for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. She has also served on the Beth Am Board of Directors as secretary and she has chaired the annual congregational directory. Allyson volunteers at Good Shepard’s Hope and enjoys gardening and reading. Rabbi Rick Sherwin is quick to acknowledge the Ascher’s contribution of chocolates so that candies can be distributed every Shabbat morning to sweeten the Torah service at Beth Am. In ways large and small, Myron and Allyson are valued members of the congregational family.

The strength of Jeri and Jack Leavitt and Allyson and Myron Ascher has brought strength to the entire Beth Am family. To all of them the extended family of Beth Am offered the traditional statement of appreciation, Y’yasher koch’khem, and honored them as Beth Am’s Simchat Torah honorees for 5774.

For information on events and activities at Beth Am, consult the synagogue’s web site at http://www.CongBethAm.org.


Reader Comments

Babsatb writes:

Congratulations to you all.. We are thrilled for you and miss you in the mountains!


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