Saturday, May 25, 2002

Faith Matters


6 degrees of Jewish separation

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        For several years, bored but clever film fans have engaged in the Kevin Bacon pop-culture game, six degrees of separation.

        To play: name an actor and the group works to find six common links (from movies, TV shows) that lead to Kevin Bacon.

        The idea: We're all connected in some way.

        Rabbi Abie Ingber of the University of Cincinnati's Hillel Jewish Student Center has a new twist on the game — linking Hillel to 19th-century Austrian composer Franz Schubert.

        Here it goes: A friend donated an ark curtain to Hillel. These pieces of cloth, often made of fine material with elaborate script, cover the ark that houses the Torah scrolls.

        This one was a 12-foot-by-7-foot piece of blue-green velvet with gold scroll work, a Torah crown and laurel wreath. And another link: script on the curtain that says it was dedicated in 1885 in honor of a beloved son's bar mitzvah.

        The search began. Rabbi Ingber asked UC student Miriam Spitz to track down the history of the ark curtain.

        After weeks of searching, she found the ark curtain was donated by a wealthy industrialist and philanthropist, Wilhelm Ritter von Gutmann. His son, Moritz Ritter, was born in 1872 and celebrated his bar mitzvah at age 13.

        She also learned the ark curtain was from the Stadttempel Synagogue in Vienna, Austria. As it turns out, the synagogue leaders had asked a local musician to write a musical composition of Psalm 92 for their cantor and choir to perform at the building's dedication in 1826.

        And, of course, the composer was Mr. Schubert.

        On Tuesday, Rabbi Ingber will share the story with a group committed to helping Hillel and future Jewish leaders. The 40 or so people already committed are founding members of The Great Assembly of Hillel, which echoes the Great Assembly led by Ezra in Jewish history.

Your thoughts

        The Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Billy Graham Mission is only a month away. And we need your help. We want to talk to you about what Billy Graham means to you.

        If you were here for the 1977 crusade in Cincinnati, please share your memories. Send them to us, along with your name, daytime phone number, age and neighborhood. Send to The Cincinnati Enquirer, c/o Billy Graham Memories, 7700 Service Center Drive, West Chester, OH 45069. Fax: 755-4150.

        For more religion listings, check out Cincinnati.Com, keyword: events. E-mail rthompson@enquirer.com or call 755-4144.
       

       



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