מזל טוב

queen city of the west

When Deb­bie and I decid­ed to con­tin­ue our rab­binic stud­ies at the Cincin­nati, Ohio cam­pus of HUC-JIR rather than at the New York cam­pus, a num­ber of our friends made fun of us. They joked that we’d spend all our time in rock­ing chairs on the porch of our apart­ment. We actu­al­ly had a num­ber of pos­i­tive rea­sons for want­i­ng to study in Cincin­nati (as well as a vari­ety of neg­a­tive rea­sons for not study­ing in NYC).

  • Deb­bie could work in the muse­um on the cam­pus in Cincin­nati as she had in Los Ange­les.
  • Mark could work in the Klau Library (one of the pre­mier Juda­ic libraries) and even, per­haps the rare book room.
  • Mark could study Amer­i­can Jew­ish his­to­ry with Jacob Rad­er Mar­cus and use the resources of the Amer­i­can Jew­ish Archives.
  • Being coastal, big-city kids, this would be a chance to expe­ri­ence the mid­dle of the coun­try, it was more like­ly that the two of us would find jobs in a big city on one of the coasts after ordi­na­tion, than in “fly­over” coun­try.
  • The slow­er pace of Cincin­nati would enable us to focus on our stud­ies… the actu­al pur­pose of our being in school.
  • …and this was the mir­ror image of why NYC was not such a great idea for us, in New York, we would be busy try­ing to earn enough mon­ey to afford to live in NYC and then not have either the time or the mon­ey to take advan­tage of all the dis­trac­tions from our stud­ies that NYC has to offer.

Cincin­nati was an excel­lent choice. We did explore The Mid­west, as well as The South. We met love­ly peo­ple and we even went to a base­ball game.

on to the big apple

On ordi­na­tion, R. Shel­don Zim­mer­man and his laypeo­ple offered Deb­bie a posi­tion as assis­tant rab­bi at Cen­tral Syn­a­gogue in New York City. We moved to NYC and found an apart­ment with­in walk­ing dis­tance of the syn­a­gogue (on 64th near 1st). I pur­sued a num­ber of my old Fed­er­a­tion con­tacts and was able to get a job in the Lead­er­ship Devel­op­ment Divi­sion of the UJA-Fed­er­a­tion Cam­paign.

mark's business card

mark’s busi­ness card


My pri­ma­ry respon­si­bil­i­ty at the Cam­paign was in “com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­ing” or “out­reach” to work with com­mit­tees of young donors (25–35ish Jew­ish “Yup­pies”) to cre­ate activ­i­ties around New York City that would attract many oth­ers of their peers. These events should have some Juda­ic con­tent, as well as a large social com­po­nent. The peo­ple we attract­ed and involved would ulti­mate­ly be invit­ed to fund-rais­ing events and hope­ful­ly become active in the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty.

One of the vol­un­teers was a love­ly young woman who met and mar­ried a bright and engag­ing young rab­bi who had been a participant/speaker for one of our pro­grams. Hav­ing grown up in an Ortho­dox envi­ron­ment he was accus­tomed to say­ing Mazal Tov to every­one at a sim­cha. They pro­duced a but­ton that they dis­trib­uted at their wed­ding which served as a way to extend that greet­ing.

wedding mazal tov button

מזל טוב but­ton from a wed­ding


Sad­ly (as some­times hap­pens) the back­ing has sep­a­rat­ed from the front and I can not wear it.

The cou­ple (though now divorced) has two grown chil­dren.

The rab­bi con­tin­ues to dis­trib­ute the but­tons occa­sion­al­ly (now in its third edi­tion) at Brit Milah cer­e­monies, Bar Mitz­vah cel­e­bra­tions and oth­er joy­ous occa­sions.

and back

Many years have passed since then. That wed­ding was in 1981. I have not learned about any oth­er cou­ples who have pro­duced but­tons to share at their wed­dings. But, this week­end Noam and Rachel are get­ting mar­ried. The two of them have been liv­ing in New York (Brook­lyn) with Avi­gail. Rachel’s par­ents live in Cincin­nati where Rachel grew up. The joy­ous wed­ding will occur at a love­ly spot along the Lit­tle Mia­mi Riv­er. In joy­ous antic­i­pa­tion, I have been wear­ing a but­ton I pur­chased on eBay in April of 2009 from some­one liv­ing in Lake­land, Flori­da. I do not know why it was made or for whom.

mazal tov

מזל טוב

Date: ?
Size: 3.8
Pin Form: clasp
Print Method: cel­lu­loid
Text מזל טוב

your lapel buttons

Many peo­ple have lapel but­tons. They may be attached to a favorite hat or jack­et you no longer wear, or poked into a cork-board on your wall. If you have any lay­ing around that you do not feel emo­tion­al­ly attached to, please let me know. I pre­serve these for the Jew­ish peo­ple. At some point they will all go to an appro­pri­ate muse­um. You can see all the but­tons shared to date.

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