Survivor shares story 'Before America'

Two years ago, Bronia Bronkesh traveled to Poland and Ukraine with her daughter and granddaughter to say Kaddish at the mass grave where her father and grandparents had been shot 67 years earlier.

Bronkesh, who turns 90 today (Friday, April 22), will present "Three Generations: a Journey of Mother, Daughter and Granddaughter: a trip back to Poland and Ukraine" with her daughter Sheryl, as part of a community Yom Hashoah commemoration, "Days of Remembrance: Generations After."

During the presentation, Bronkesh will talk about her life before World War II, her journey to escape the Nazis, and her time living in a displaced-persons camp in Germany before moving to the United States.

It will be held 10-11 a.m. Tuesday, May 3, at the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, and will include the showing of "Before America," a film about her journey back to Eastern Europe in 2009 that is part of the resource library at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

The Bronkesh family recently endowed the Bronia and Sam Bronkesh Jewish Spirit Prize, honoring physical and spiritual resistance during the Holocaust. The essay contest, open to all Hebrew High students, is run through the Bureau of Jewish Education. The first award will be presented next year. For essay guidelines, email Myra Shindler,

Bronkesh will celebrate her birthday on May 15 with more than 90 guests, including her sister-in-law who is flying in from Haifa, Israel.

For more information on Bronkesh's journey, visit

A tribute to Rabbi Straus

Next month, Temple Emanuel of Tempe will celebrate the dedication and contributions of Rabbi Andrew Straus, who has served as rabbi at the Reform congregation since 1998. He will become the senior rabbi of Temple Sinai in Oakland, Calif., effective July 1.

A tribute to Straus will be held 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at the synagogue, 5801 S. Rural Road. The event will include wine and cheese and a concert by blues musician Saul Kaye.

The synagogue will also host a family picnic at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, May 15, immediately after the religious school promotion ceremony. The barbecue lunch will include family activities and entertainment and have a western theme.

In addition to his role heading the 550-family congregation, Straus, a past president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix, has been active in the interfaith community and has been involved in social-justice issues, such as homelessness and immigration.

To attend, call 480-838-1414.

Rabbi candidate named

The Temple Emanuel board announced its approval of Rabbi Dean Shapiro as a candidate for the Reform congregation's new rabbi. In a letter to congregants, President Susan Gordon said that the Rabbinic Search Committee was "impressed with his spirituality, warm and open personality and leadership style" and voted unanimously to recommend him to lead the congregation in Tempe. Congregants will vote on the recommendation at the annual membership meeting on May 1.

Shapiro, a Los Angeles native, is senior rabbi at Beth Shalom, the Progressive Jewish congregation of Auckland, New Zealand. He was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2008, where he also received a master's in Hebrew Arts and Letters and a certificate in Jewish Communal Service (nonprofit management). Before he was ordained, Shapiro had served congregations in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area and Yuma.

Rabbi Plotkin legacy event

The Arizona Jewish Historical Society will honor the legacy of Rabbi Albert Plotkin at this year's annual meeting, 2 p.m. Sunday, May 15, at the Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, 122 E. Culver St., Phoenix. The event will include guest speakers, hors d'oeuvres and desserts. Cost is $36. To attend, call 602-241-7870 by May 2.

Chabad to complete Torah

A new Torah will be completed at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 5, at Chabad of Arizona, 2110 E. Lincoln Drive, Phoenix. A processional will start at 5:30 p.m. Bob Sarraf and his family have donated the Torah in honor of his wife, Nazanine. Call 602-944-2753.

- Leisah Woldoff

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