A few years ago, the Beth El bulletin published a photograph of Jehiel lighting Hanukkah candles with a class from the Beth El Preschool. A child with whom I am acquainted was in the class, so I asked the child to identify various people in the photo. The child correctly identified classmates and teachers. Then I pointed to Jehiel. “And who’s this?” I asked. Without hesitation, the child replied, “That’s God.”
Yes, it’s cute, but when you think about it, it was an easy mistake to make. Children are very quick to pick up on moral authority, and Jehiel has it. That’s why I have an engraved sign on my desk that says WWJD: What would Jehiel do? He’s never needed to hold mountains over people’s heads or fling fire and brimstone. His style is more along the lines of Isaiah: Come, let us reason together. As a teacher and a preacher he has always proceeded out of compassion and urged others to do the same–to live up to the best in themselves.
By: Nikki Pusin
Of course there was the bris, the bar mitzvahs and the weddings all officiated by Rabbi but while these were memorable lifecycle events nothing compares to our Rabbi walking down the hall at the hospital in St. Louis. Our son, Stephen, was involved in a lifethreatening accident and while Bob and I were at Stephen’s side, who could have imagined that Rabbi came to be with us and support us through that harrowing time. We have told this story hundreds of times and still get chills knowing that Rabbi flew to help Bob and me. Stephen, thank G-d, had the best medical care but WE have the best RABBI. Mazel tov on your birthday. We look forward to celebrating with you and Sylvia and the entire family.
Love, Mattye & Bob
By: Mattye & Bob Gandel
Rav Jehiel marrying the two of us, with his grandson, David, Aviva’s eldest, looking on.
It’s stunning to think how many services you have led – and, through them, how many lives you have touched. If you multiply the seven wedding blessings times the number of couples you’ve married… the numbers are impressive. We are partial – and we hope you are, too – to the family weddings you have conducted. Here is a picture of you in action at our wedding. All your bridal couples will recognize the tux, the smile, the warmth, the romantic gleam in your eye. Thanks for helping make it not just a special day, but a sacred one.
Love, Debby and Craig
By: Craig & Debby
I met Rabbi Orenstein when he was in Great Neck for one year covering a sabbatical. I lost both of my uncles in Great Neck within months of each other. When the second one died Rabbi Orenstein was already at Beth El and we took my mother there to say Kaddish for her brother. It was the beginning of a long relationship which has been so fulfilling for me. In your honor, I will support the SOMA Independent Minyan’s daily minyan once a week.
By: Hilda Pressman