In renewal, splansky

By Rabbi Yael Splansky.

Jacob Hertzman (1981 – 1996), alav haShalom, is remembered for his strength of spirit.  Our congregation was blessed by his spirit when he was alive and we are blessed again today by his memory.  Jacob loved Holy Blossom Temple.  He knew it was a special place, intended for special purposes.  He would even dress for the occasion of Religious School – always in his blazer and signature red tie.

With his father’s permission, I share this memory with you now.

Watercolour by Florence Hertzman, Jacob's grandmother.

Watercolour by Florence Hertzman, Jacob’s grandmother.

“The Tower” by David Hertzman
(from The Jacob Stories, edited by Jill Hertzman and Elayne Freeman, illustrated by Florence Hertzman, Bow Tie Press, 2004.)
Jacob loved the Temple.  Holy Blossom is an elegant structure, built in the 1930s.  Its founders decided that a modern Reform temple should look like a church, bell tower and all.
We would often go to services together on Shabbat or holidays.  There Jake would be, singing in a loud voice, sometimes joining the Torah procession or “helping” the Rabbi on the bimah if the mood struck him.  He was always made to feel at home.
One day, after a service, we were in the upper hall of the school wing when I remembered that there were steps up to the tower.  When I was a student, we were taken up for a special treat.  I tried the door… it was open.
We entered the narrow space.  It was dark, dusty and mysterious.  Old cartons of records lay strewn about.  Faint light emanated from above.   We climbed the rickety stairs, up, up, up to the top.  The tower looked out over the city.  The Temple was spread out below.  The walls were covered with graffiti – children’s names from years gone by.
The windows were grimy with years of dust, but that did not bother Jacob.  He was so excited that he jumped up and down.
“You can see everything from here!” he exclaimed as he gazed out over the Temple and the city.  “This must be what looking down from Heaven is like!”
We added our names to the many others, then went down the stairs and out the door unnoticed.  After that, every time we went to Temple, we tried the little door.  Sometimes, if we were lucky, it was open.
Click image above for full details

Click image above for full details

Years ago, David came forward and said he’d like to dedicate the tower to Jacob’s memory.  Because our Renewal Project was always just over the horizon, his good idea had to wait.

But now there’s no more waiting.

As I write, the Diamond Schmitt architects are measuring the windows, our maintenance staff is clearing out the clutter, and Cary Solomon, the chair of our Renewal Project Building Committee, is working with his team to make sure the stairs are reinforced and better lighting is installed.

On Shabbat Shuvah, September 7, 2013, we will dedicate Jacob’s Tower.

Jacob’s mother, Jill Hertzman, will read from Torah. Four generations of Jacob’s family will have the aliyah.  And during the Congregational Kiddush everyone will be invited (in shifts!) to climb those stairs and enjoy the tremendous views from the tower’s perch.

There are many stories attached to Holy Blossom Temple’s tower – some historical, some mythical, and many very personal.  I’ll be sharing some of these stories over the coming weeks – online, in our bulletin, and from the bima.

Please share your own story of the tower below.

Our Renewal of Space and Spirit is gaining momentum and has sparked the imagination of our congregants, young and old. (www.holyblossom.org/jointherenewalconversation).

Thanks to the Hertzman Family we can all take inspiration now from Jacob and his view of Holy Blossom Temple, from the inside out.

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Showing 5 comments
  • Cassie Wein
    Reply

    To Jacob’s Parents and Rabbi Splansky.

    I’m sorry I missed this dedication. I think of Jacob often, and I only have fond memories of him and of the time which we spent together in religious school. I will have to make my way back to Holy Blossom to see this tower. I hope you are both well. Jacob was certainly a bright light which enhanced my youth and his spirit is a shining star which continues to soar amongst all of us!!!

    With love and best wishes,

    Cassie Wein.

  • Suzie Lyon
    Reply

    hmmm…should I tell you my memory? As Youth Director at Holy Blossom from 1986 to 1998, we used to really look forward to our shul-ins, because with nobody else around we used to, um, sneak up into the tower to look around! Between the tower hikes and going above the sanctuary bima to look down at different friends who would sing at the top of their lungs (one of the regular singers became a renowned opera star!)we often had 40 teens coming to the events because they anticipated the fun. We all loved Jacob, and this is an awesome tribute to him. I’m also a product of Heinz’s school, and always loved him, so the combination of Heinz and Jacob is quite spectacular.

  • David Hertzman
    Reply

    Rabbi Splansky did a wonderful job in engaging the Congregation in Jacob’s Tower and Project Renewal. The striking photographs were taken by our esteemed President. We hope that many of Jacob’s Temple friends will have a chance to visit the Tower at the September 7th dedication, on Yom Kippur afternoon or in the near future.

  • Helen Lyon
    Reply

    About 40 years ago, when I was a teacher of grade 3 Religious School, we treated the Tower as a mysterious secret room. It was Heinz Warschauer’s private office but as the director of education he used a more accessible office in the school department. For one of many director-teacher meetings, I was called to the tower and I looked forward to that with great anticipation. Like belonging to a secret society, having been up in the tower was one of the highlights of my teaching career! I will be one of the climbers on September 7th, to renew a pleasant old memory.

    • Joan Garson
      Reply

      Thank you for sharing this lovely comment. I joined Temple after the Tower was no longer open. Your recollection brings the history of the Tower and of Temple alive for me (and I am sure for everyone who read your comment). I look forward to climbing with you on September 7.

      Joan Garson
      Chair, Renewal Project Engagement Committee

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