For the Henry S. Jacobs Camp, it was a case of going from the old to the new.
On June 16, the camp dedicated a new handcrafted ark, Torah stand and reading table, all made by Bob Cohan of Tallahassee. Cohan retired from the medical field and has devoted his time to woodworking and Jewish study.
The new ritual items are in the camp’s new Performing Arts Center, which until a few months ago used to house the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience. The camp previously had a pulpit filled with items from defunct congregations throughout the region, but the museum is currently exploring a new location. The museum currently operates a satellite location at B’nai Israel in Natchez, but has not yet announced a new headquarters.
“When folks heard the Museum was moving, the question I was asked most often was ‘would we still have Shabbat services in there’?” said Camp Director Jonathan Cohen. “It was important that we continue to use the auditorium as a worship space, which made it a priority of mine to make sure we had the right ritual items to make that happen. My first call was to Bob Cohan.”
“Jacobs is an oasis of consistency of social order and great joy — a setting to truly build on the three legs of Judaism (God), Torah and community,” said Cohan, “and I feel very honored to have been able to bring some of this together in helping to create the worship area.”
Cohan’s family and friends were on hand for the dedication, where he recited the week’s Torah reading using a pointer he also had fashioned.
“As this building becomes the Jacobs Performing Arts Center and continues to be the place where we pray together, we turn a new page,” said Michael Danziger, Rosh T’fillah and Education Director. “It’s a celebration of our Jewish life now. It’s not from a place where there aren’t Jews left; it’s in a place where there are Jews — where Judaism is alive.”
“This weekend at camp with the children, family, friends and staff is, without a doubt, the most meaningful time I have ever experienced,” said Cohan. “The spirit was electric and will stay with me always.”