Fashionably frum for Pesach and Take 5 for Torah

Ellen Futterman

By Ellen Futterman, Editor

Fashionably frum for Pesach

Who says modest clothing has to look frumpy? Certainly not the women’s division of St. Louis Kollel, which has organized a fashion extravaganza called “Princess with Pride” for women and teens from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, March 29 at Torah Prep Boy’s School, 609 North and South Road (at Gannon) in University City.

Kollel administrative assistant Linda Markowitz and volunteer Orli Axelbaum say nearly a dozen designers and boutique owners from Israel, New York and Dallas as well as St. Louis will sell stylish clothes, hats, jewelry and other accessories for the spring at this first-of-its-kind pre-Pesach event. In addition, specialty items such as kosher wines, gourmet nuts and chocolate for Passover will be available for tasting, and there will be a variety of cookbooks for sale as well.

“Basically, there will be everything for the Jewish woman to put Passover together in style,” says Markowitz, adding that $5 buys participants three chances to win a raffle prize of high-quality disposable dinner for the yom tov meal. Oh, and for the fashion-challenged, personal shoppers will be on hand to help coordinate outfits and find the best looks and fits for anyone wanting their services.

Admission to the event is free, with a portion of the evening’s proceeds going to benefit the St. Louis Kollel’s educational programs. For a list of vendors and more information, call Markowitz at 314-726-6047.

“This is really an effort to bring women from the Jewish community together and give them a chance to shop in a fun atmosphere before they get so busy with Pesach,” says Axelbaum. “They’ll also have the chance to find some unique clothes that they typically are not able to find in St. Louis.”

Take 5 for Torah

It happens most days like clockwork -actually, at 12:20 p.m. to be precise. That’s when anyone craving an infusion of Jewish learning can dial up and participate in a five-minute conference call.

Rabbi Avi Rubenfeld, director of Chabad of Chesterfield and proprietor of the Judaica shop The Source, started this free-of-charge service as a way for customers to take a break from their day for some inspirational thought. Jewish visitors to St. Louis who frequent Rubenfeld’s Judaic gift shop in Creve Coeur began to spread the word of “Torah in 5” in their communities. On any given day, a handful of callers from all over the country join the St. Louis-based conference call for a daily dose of Jewish law (or Halacha) and a Jewish thought of the day.  To join, dial 218-486-1611 code 613 Sunday-Friday at 12:20 p.m. to listen and take part.

School of Rock owner Dave Simon says he enjoys bringing the feeling of Shabbat into each day of the week. “There is even a lesson in the actual phone number – 613 is the number of mitzvot in the Torah,” adds Jonathan Levit of Houston, Texas who described how he came to call in each day.

“I had been visiting St. Louis on business, and happened to walk into the Source just as Rabbi Avi began the ‘Torah in 5′ conference call, which intrigued me,” he said  “He then helped me program my cell phone to ring each day.”

For his part, Rubenfeld explained that he began the call four years ago as a way to help a friend who was interested in learning how to do certain tasks according to Jewish law. “We decided that it was easiest for him to learn in five-minute increments,” said Rubenfeld. “He wanted to learn every day, so the conference call was borne out of that.”

Rubenfeld said the Talmud tells Jews to pray in the morning, afternoon and evening. “The Mincha is the most precious prayer of the day, and that falls in the middle of the work day,” Rubenfeld says, explaining why 12:20 p.m. was chosen as the designated time.

Recently, the calls have focused on learning the laws of Purim. As Passover nears, attention will turn to that holiday. Often, the call is dedicated to the memory of a certain person who has passed away.

Rubenfeld says typically a half dozen people participate in the call, though occasionally the number is closer to 20. “Yesterday, we had nine people on the line,” he says. “But some people have told me they take part silently; they press the mute button and just listen to what is being said.”