Kidney transplant awareness

Cantor Leon Lissek

Ellen Futterman, Editor

Kidney transplant awareness

Congregation B’nai Amoona is hosting an informational session about kidney diseases and live kidney transplants at 2:30 p.m. March 19. The meeting is inspired, in part, by B’nai Amoona’s former cantor, Leon Lissek, who left the synagogue in 1998 and is now on a kidney transplant list.

“This is purely an informational meeting — no one is getting swabbed or being asked to sign on the dotted line,” said Michael Samis, executive director of B’nai Amoona. “It’s a program, too, to introduce more people to Renewal, and also to get the whole idea of transplants, in this case kidney transplants, before more members of the community.”

Renewal is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based nonprofit that facilitates treatment of people with kidney diseases, including kidney donations. Founded in 2006, it has its roots in the ultra-Orthodox community of Borough Park in Brooklyn, but has since expanded to other streams of Judaism across North America.

Rabbi Joshua Sturn, director of community outreach at Renewal, will explain about the program at the temple meeting, which also will be attended by Lissek’s wife and son. Lissek and his family live on the East Coast, said Samis.

RSVPs are requested to Amy Maupin at [email protected] or 314-576-9990 ext. 131. The event is free and open to the entire community. B’nai Amoona is located at 324 S. Mason Road.


The ball’s in your court

Looking to invest in a little different March Madness, as in the kind that doesn’t have anything to do with basketball? Then consider donating to one of several dozen St. Louis charities, including the National Council of Jewish Women, as part of Brackets for Good St. Louis.

The brackets — structured like the men’s college March Madness basketball tournament — pits 64 local nonprofits against one another. Participating organizations rally donors to out-fundraise opponents in order to advance to the next round. Dollars from online donations translate to points, giving participants the opportunity to advance in each bracket round. Competing nonprofits get to keep all donations received during tournament play, no matter how many rounds they advance. The winner gets an additional $10,000 championship grant.

The first round is over but there are still five left to go, with NCJW holding strong. 

Brackets for Good, which was begun in 2012 in Indianapolis, has grown to include 11 cities. Last year, $190,272 was raised for nonprofits in the St. Louis area.

To learn more, make a donation and check out the action, go to 

Being judgy

Congrats to Benjamin Lipman, an attorney with Lewis Rice and Jewish Light trustee on being named one of three candidates for the open seat on the Missouri Supreme Court. The Appellate Judicial Commission, which interviews applicants for appeals court-level judges, announced the nominees on March 1 and has submitted their names to Gov. Eric Greitens, who has 60 days to make a decision. Whoever is chosen will replace Judge Richard Teitelman, 69, who died in November. 

“I am honored to have been chosen by the commission as one of the three nominees, and I wish each of the two other nominees the best of luck,” said Lipman. The other two are Lisa White Hardwick, a member of the state Court of Appeals for the Western District, and W. Brent Powell, a circuit judge in Jackson County in the Kansas City area. 

On the radio

Perhaps you heard a couple of familiar voices on the radio thanking the St. Louis community for its outpouring of support following the vandalism at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, where 154 headstones were toppled. The voices belong to Andrew Rehfeld and Rori Picker Neiss, heads of Jewish Federation of St. Louis and the Jewish Community Relations Council, respectively. The “thank you” commerical is currently  running on KWMU, KTRS and KMOX, and was paid for by the boards of the two organizations. No other funds, including the Federation’s Annual Campaign and the Cemetery Reconstruction and Security Funds were used.

In addition, Rehfeld was invited last week by Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson to deliver the opening prayer and benediction to the State House of Representatives in Jefferson City. Rehfeld encouraged House members to “name it, condemn it and do something about it” when confronted with hateful statements or situations as elected leaders.

Calling all plus-size, wanna-be models

Sydney’s Closet, the St. Louis-based designer and manufacturer of plus-size special occasion dresses, will hold its first-ever open casting call for full-figured women ages 16 to 26.  The online search — to discover fresh faces to model homecoming and prom dresses — runs through March 19.

“If you’ve got great curves, then we have the chance for you to pursue your dream of being a plus-size model,” said Phyllis Brasch Librach, president of Sydney’s Closet and a B’nai Amoona congregant.  “No experience is necessary.”

To apply, go to and fill out the online application. Select applicants will be called in late March for an interview at the company’s headquarters located in Maryland Heights. 

Kings of the chess world

This month, the World Chess Hall of Fame is honoring four new members, all of whom are Jewish, during a ceremony from 6-8 p.m. March 28 at the Boo Cat Club on Union Boulevard, which will also kick off the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Championships. The 2017 inductees into the World Chess Hall of Fame are: Austrian chess master Paula Kalmar-Wolf, Russian–born Israeli Woman Grandmaster Alla Kushnir and Soviet and Swiss Grandmaster and writer Viktor Korchnoi. The fourth inductee, German-American International master and author Edward Lasker, will be inducted into the U.S. Chess Federation Hall of Fame. These four will join the St. Louis-based museum’s 27 world members and 57 U.S. members, including prominent Jews Bobby Fischer, Alexander Alekhine, Emanuel Lasker, and Vera Menchik. For more information, go to

Faithful listener 

It’s not too late to join Rabbi Randy Fleisher at Central Reform Congregation for his Tuesday evening class “Judaism and Religion, Singer-Songwriter Style.” As Fleisher explains, the class will study lyrics with accompanying religious texts and listen to songs by artists such as Bob Dylan, U2, Van Morrison, Peter Himmelman, Bob Marley, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead and more. 

“These are contemporary musicians whose songs are largely secular and not pegged as Jewish in any way, but have some religious leanings in (at least one of) their lyrics,” Fleisher explained.

Classes are free and take place Tuesdays through March from 7 to 9 p.m. A guest speaker will lead the class on March 21.