United Hebrew marks 170 years

BY JILL KASSANDER, SPECIAL TO THE ST. LOUIS JEWISH LIGHT

On Sunday, Nov. 18 the evening was filled with excitement at United Hebrew’s 170th anniversary gala. Close to 300 people were on hand for the food, auction, entertainment and opportunity to celebrate the historic occasion. Co-chairs Lori and Steve Lander and Amy and Brad Snitzer and their committee created a unique atmosphere to appeal to the congregation’s diverse population.

Susan Kaplansky, wife of Rabbi Howard Kaplansky, was delighted with efforts of the co-chairs and their committee.

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“The young chairpeople were great,” Susan said. “They brought in new people and really re-energized the event with their new ideas and enthusiasm.”

The evening included a food tasting rather than a standard sit-down dinner. Some of St. Louis’s finest restaurants donated their time and food. The food stations and silent auction tables lined the perimeter of the lobby and social hall. Rick Cornfeld felt the evening’s unique style encouraged people to interact with one another.

“This is what I enjoy doing,” Cornfeld said. “I like walking around seeing and visiting with people I know and getting to meet new people.”

Part of the excitement at the event were the over 150 items to bid on between the silent and live auctions. There were quite a variety of items including: jewelry, hotel stays, meals, Fox Theatre tickets, Cardinal tickets, scrapbooking supplies, gift baskets and so much more. There were also some extremely unique one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia including: a framed autographed batting glove used by Albert Pujols during the 2006 championship season and a framed autographed jersey from St. Louis Rams star running back Steven Jackson.

One of the highlights of the evening was the entertainment provided by internationally renowned hypnotist and native son Ricky Kalmon, whose family belongs to the congregation.

“Everyone enjoyed Ricky’s performance at the fundraiser he did for the preschool a few years ago,” Amy said. “The committee thought it would be nice to bring him back.”

Many attendees expressed their pleasure at being able to celebrate the momentous occasion and shared their feelings about the congregation.

Co-chairs Lori and Steve have been members of the congregation for nine years. They appreciate the warm, inclusive environment of the congregation and have made many new friends over the years.

“Rabbi Kaplansky is a warm and compassionate man who made us feel a part of the United Hebrew family,” Lori said. “One of the highlights of planning the event for me was working with the temple members and staff and working with co-chairs Amy and Brad Snitzer.”

Member Judy Plocker described the congregation a friendly place.

“There are so many wonderful people in this congregation and so many wonderful activities to be a part of — like this evening,” Plocker said.

Members Melissa and Barry Chelist have enjoyed belonging to the congregation and find it very warm and accommodating.

“We were originally looking for a preschool for our daughter Leah who has a peanut allergy,” Barry said. “Diane Deutsch, the early childhood education director, welcomed us with open arms. It is such a warm and welcoming congregation that we joined soon after that. This is home.”

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