Lifetime contract for Hazzan, roving rabbis, odd couples

Mary Lieber Schoolman

By Ellen Futterman, Editor

A sweet 16

Hazzan Sharon Nathanson is expected to sign a lifetime contract with Congregation B’nai Amoona during its annual meeting at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 14. Nathanson, 44, has served B’nai Amoona as its hazzan for 16 years, though she grew up at the congregation and  then spent years helping to coach students with their b’nai mitzvah preparation.

“We had been discussing this; they (leadership and congregants) wanted me to stay, and I’m happy to stay here,” said Nathanson. “B’nai Amoona has always been my second home and my community. I love it here, so why would I go anywhere else?”

Rabbi Carnie Rose, who signed a lifetime contract with the congregation in 2010, couldn’t be more thrilled about Nathanson. 

“It’s a delight to work with her everyday,” he said. “She’s wonderful, hardworking, caring, considerate and always getting better. I know it’s important for her to grow and get better.

“There’s a knock on cantors, that they like to perform and sing in front of people. Hazzan Nathanson is all about getting other people to sing. She talks about the whole congregation as her choir and making this holy music together.”

Rose also notes that Nathanson was “hand-picked” by B’nai Amoona Hazzan Emeritus Leon S. Lissek after he had a stroke. Lissek served the congregation as cantor for 40 years.

“When I was a kid, Cantor Lissek kept telling me I should be a cantor,” Nathanson recalled. “But he was such a big guy with this amazing big voice. I thought, ‘How can I be Cantor Lissek?’ He really helped me to see that I could do this, that this was my calling.”

Roving rabbis come to St. Charles County

If you live in St. Charles County and would like to take part in a seder, look no further than one led by Roving Rabbis Eli Marvin and Amichay Alnatan. The two will preside over a community seder at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 19 at the Courtyard by Marriott St. Peters. To RSVP or for more information, go to 

This initiative is being coordinated by Chabad of Greater St. Louis as part of the Passover Roving Rabbis Program, in which hundreds of aspiring rabbis travel far from home to spend special moments with Jewish people across the globe.

Not so odd couples 

Here’s one of those ideas that is simple yet makes so much sense: pairing seniors with millennials to become roommates. 

John Levis, who grew up attending Temple Emanuel, got the idea when his mother-in-law and her sister were living in separate condominiums. Each was only using one bedroom and one bath in their two-bedroom, two-bath condos. It seemed like such a waste.

Around the same time, Levis’ friend shared a story about his nephew moving in with his mother. “I thought, there have got to be other seniors who want to keep living independently but want companionship, help with chores and some extra money,” Levis said.

To see if his idea would work, Levis bought a practicum from the Olin School of Business at Washington University. Second-year MBA students did an exhaustive market research study and found that Levis’ idea would not only be a good business, but nothing really like it existed. Levis then worked with Wash U’s  psychology department to create an algorithm to match young adults seeking housing with seniors who have a bedroom and bath to spare, similar to the way popular dating apps match singles.

The business, Odd Couples Housing, has been operating for about a year and has matched about a half dozen people. Both the senior and their younger counter parts fill out a profile questionnaire to help identify potential housemates. Background and reference checks are available through Odd Couples’ partner companies.

“Millennials are asked to contribute to between $400 and $500 a month to household expenses, though that can be negotiated depending on whether they are also doing chores like mowing, dog walking, taking over the technology of the house or various schlepping,” said Levis. “International graduate students especially like this model as a way to meet Americans and practice their English because everyone on campus is too busy looking at their iPads and iPhones.”

For more information or to fill out a profile, go to

A couple of postscripts

Last week, the Light’s Jews in the News column noted that MOT Cindy Lander Wallach and Simone Bernstein were selected as 2019 Women of Achievement. Unfortunately, Mary Lieber Schoolman, another Jewish recipient of this award, was inadvertently left out of that post. Schoolman is being honored for her contributions to civic responsibility, and has served on many boards including Doorways, Spirit of St. Louis’ Women’s Fund, City Academy, Temple Emanuel and COCA. In particular she has found gratification and success serving on organizational leadership search and capital committees. Congrats to Schoolman on her honor, which will occur at a luncheon on May 14 at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton. For more information, call 314-896-4962 or go to

In other news, the 120 Mizzou brothers of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) raised $110,000 for the American Cancer Society and March of Dimes in last weekend’s, 50th anniversary Rock-a-Thon. Mizzou senior and Ladue high grad Edan Goldfarb managed to rock in a chair for 63 straight hours while his fraternity brothers canvassed throughout mid-Missouri, St. Louis and Kansas City for donations. 

While this year’s amount did not exceed the $132,000 record in 2015, Rock-A-Thon co-chair Jordan Bernstein said it was the third highest amount raised since the philanthropy event first began in 1969. The Rock-A-Thon takes place every other year; since its inception, it has raised more than $1.1 million to help battle cancer and other potentially deadly diseases.