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

Jews in the Land of Disney: Spotlight: FOJA-Future Old Jews of America

 


The window is opened in the room... some believe that opening a window allows the soul to depart. A candle lit, a prayer said, “Blessed are you, Lord our God, Master of the Universe, the True Judge.”

Psalm 51 is read...

It’s the Jewish way. Bury the dead within 24 hours after passing. In many cases, preparations are delayed because of issues with travel... scheduling... logistics.

After burial, the mourning period begins. Seven days of Shiva, 30 days of intense mourning and then one year later the mourning period is over for the loved one. You will hold them close to your heart, your soul... forever.

But there is support from family, friends and the Jewish community.

Monday through Fridays, at 7:45 a.m. at the Jewish Community Center in Maitland, minyan is held. Those who wish to say kaddish for their loved one can do so here. On Sundays at 9 a.m., minyan is hosted at Temple Israel located on Moss Road in Winter Springs.

Sunday mornings are tough. It’s early on weekend days off, and at times Temple Israel has had difficulty in getting 10 adults necessary to form a minyan.

Enter FOJA—Future Old Jews of America

Members of FOJA (pronounced, pho-jaaah) can be found on Sunday mornings having breakfast in town, usually before the sun comes up for many.

Six “future old Jews,” ages 50 to whatever (there is no age restrictions) are sitting up front at a long table by the window at a local restaurant. This one offered a breakfast special: two eggs, toast, home fries and coffee for $2.99. Not bad.

They all wear a pin with a sheep image. It’s their logo. Every “fraternity” needs a pledge pin, of sorts.

FOJA started with two men, former past presidents of Temple Israel, getting together to catch up on the weeks. Mark Kluger and Eric Hoffman would have a morning nosh, eat some food, and then head to TI for Minyan. From there, they invited some other men, and some asked to join in. They have met almost every Sunday morning to help ensure that there are enough adults to make a minyan.

Rabbi Neely wears his FOJA pin on his tallit. Neely has often commented on how FOJA’s participation has helped secure Minyan, because realistically, they start out with about 6 plus rabbi. Once people heard minyans were made, more and more people kept coming Sunday mornings for Minyan.

Why did Kluger feel the need for FOJA? He stated seriously, “We needed to ensure that we have 10 adults to make up a minyan and quite truthfully, we were falling short too many times. We had people whose family member had passed away and they couldn’t say kaddish because we didn’t have enough people. I thought that if a bunch of congregants made a breakfast commitment, we would push each other to go. Ever since we began, we haven’t had many problems fulfilling our commitment.”

FOJA members include Wayne Bilsky, Joe Inns, Eric Hoffman, Michael Danoff, and Bernie Kahn. This writer also tries to make it when possible. Everyone in the group has a nickname, but that is another story. How can anyone be old if they have nicknames?

This is about brotherhood—of coming together very early on Sunday mornings. The men encourage each other to get up and be there, rain or shine. Rest assured, because of their dedication to the brotherhood, there will be a minyan at Temple Israel every Sunday morning.

See you Sunday mornings, Mongo out!

Author Ed Borowsky, who’s nickname in FOJA is Mongo, has written several novels, one of which, “The Great Mongolian Bowling League of the United States of America,” was published and received an international book award. He is retired and lives in DeLand with his wife, Michele.

 

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