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Tikkun Leil Shavuot 2020: A pre-Shavuot Learning Night via Zoom

As we continue to re-think and re-plan for our new normal of physical distancing, we at OVS will be holding a pre-Shavuot learning (tikkun leil Shavuot) Wednesday night, May 27th
This program will run from 7 - 11 pm via Zoom

Our interim rabbis and incoming rabbi will be teaching us at the following times:

Our interim rabbis and incoming rabbi will each
be teaching a special Shavuot topic as follows:

7 pm - Rabbi Claudio Kaiser-Blueth: What do the 10 Commandments Really Teach Us?

8 pm - Rabbi Melvin Sirner: The Book of Ruth; Enduring Messages for Our Time

9 pm -  Rabbi Josh Hearshen: Parenting Advice From the Book of Genesis

10 pm - Rabbi Stephen Listfield: How one Brave Rabbi Saved Judaism

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 848 4847 1351
Password: 311010




After much deliberation, and in response to guidance from the CDC and the State of Georgia, on Tuesday, March 12th, we decided to temporarily close Or VeShalom to the public effective immediately until further notice. This was a very difficult decision but ultimately we think the right one. Issues of Pikuach Nefesh (saving a life) are at stake, and when it comes to Pikuach Nefesh even with a doubt we must act stringently. Unfortunately, we are in the position of joining many synagogues across the country who have made the difficult decision to close in the fight to contain COVID-19.  

Note that our temporary closure will necessitate postponement of our upcoming “Jews of Rhodes” exhibit originally scheduled for Sunday, March 29th (those already registered will be contacted directly).  Above all else, we encourage you to make choices that are in your families' best interests and stay safe. As the essence of Congregation Or VeShalom, you are all our top priority.
Even as our “social distancing” increases, our “social caring” should become closer. In such a limiting situation as this one, it is easy to become downtrodden and feel powerless, but there is plenty we can do. We can and should stay in touch with parents, children, friends, and neighbors. With so many of us being cousins (figuratively and literally), it is truly our responsibility and obligation to be our brother, sister, grandparents, and fortunately in many cases, great-grandparents' keepers. Call, say hello, and see how you can help. We are all in this together and we need to draw on the strength of communal solidarity, friendship, and concern. If you have questions about any upcoming lifecycle events (like a bris, saying Kaddish for a Meldado, death in the family, etc.), please reach out to our Executive Director, Adam Kofinas on his cell at 917-494-9688.

To fill the void that is usually filled with Shabbat services, weekday card games and Bureka Tuesdays, please see the virtual events featured in the eblast sent out March 19th and pay attention to our Facebook page as we share additional ways for our community to gather virtually and be spiritually together even though for now we must be physically apart. 

May the almighty bring healing to all who are ill; may all of us be blessed with good health and happiness, for ourselves and our loved ones. Amen.

-Semon Akbashev, Board President
-Adam Kofinas, Executive Director.

Announcement from OVS President, Semon Akbashev

March 31, 2020 - It is with great excitement that I write to announce that the Keilah has voted to approve Rabbi Joshua Hearshen as the next Rabbi of Congregation Or VeShalom by a vote of 157 to 3, with one abstention.
As many of you know it has been quite a journey getting here, starting with past board president, Michael Bouhadana, his board, and the future of OVS Committee. I would like to thank the search committee chair, Bryan Lavine, and his committee members -- Leo Benatar, Michael Bouhadana, Shelley Cooper, Lisa Galanti, Ellis Hedaya, and Dan Maslia -- for their exceptional work. And a special thank our executive director, Adam Kofinas, for his patience and tenacity throughout this process. Most importantly I'd like to thank all of you, our members, for your participation, both in person and via computer, during the visits by the rabbinic candidates and for your overwhelming vote of support for our new Rabbi.
I will immediately stand up a transition committee to be chaired by Shelly Cooper to help ease Rabbi Hearshen and his family's transition to Atlanta and to our Keilah. This committee's work will be in addition to all the other standing committees that are, of course, shifting their attention to prepare for the arrival of the Hearshens this summer.
During these trying times in our world, I'm so comforted by the closeness of our Keilah. When we welcome Rabbi Hearshen in July, it is my hope that the worst of days are behind us. But I hope that we all take advantage of this renewed opportunity to deepen our relationship with our Keilah friends and family make Rabbi Hearshen and his family's arrival the best that it can be.
May we go from strength to strength.
-Semon Akbashev, President

Interim Rabbi Biographies: January 1 - June 30, 2020

Rabbi Claudio Kaiser-Blueth

Rabbi Kaiser-Blueth was born in Argentina. He studied at the University of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires in the Department of History, and at the Seminario Rabinico Latino Americano (The Rabbinical Seminary in Latin America). He received Ordination in Israel in 1973 and studied Contemporary Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

His pulpits included Lima, Peru; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Puerto Rico; Los Angeles and Lakewood, California.

He also taught at the University of Judaism in the Rabbinical Department, at the Elderhostel and in a Continuing Education program. He lectured extensively in the USA and abroad. He was President of the
Clergy Association from Westchester-Ladera Heights and the Harbor Board of Rabbis of Long Beach; and a member of the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly, Western Region. 

He actively participated in various Rabbinical/Humanitarian missions to Cuba. He performed life-cycle events for the various communities in Cuba, and was instrumental in Cuban Jewish Aliyot to Israel. He was the Director of Jewish Studies at Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School in Irvine, California, where he also taught middle and high School students. Before retiring, his last pulpit duty was in Vancouver, Canada at Beth Tikvah Congregation in Richmond, B.C. from September 2004 to August 2014.

Rabbi Kaiser-Blueth is married to Susy Kaiser-Blueth. They have three adult children. Rabbi Yoni and his wife Mandy have three children: Zoe, Shai and Liel. Rabbi Rafi is married to Rachel Goodman and they
have three boys: Tuvia, Jordi and Nathan. Finally, their daughter Elisheva is married to Elie Engler and they have three children: Bella, Yaacov and Hannah.

Rabbi Melvin Sirner

He was born in Chicago and graduated from the University of Michigan. He received his Masters in Hebrew Letters and Rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He served 43 years at Beth El Synagogue of New Rochelle, New York. There he was an Assistant/ Associate Rabbi from 1972-1977. Then from 1977-2015, he was their Senior Rabbi now is their Rabbi Emeritus. In Atlanta, he worked at Congregation Shearith Israel from 2015-2016 as their Interim Rabbi.

Rabbi Stephen Chaim Listfield

Rabbi Listfield is a native of New Jersey. He began his education with a BA from Rutgers, where he was Phi Beta Kappa and graduated Magna Cum Laude. He continued his studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, received his MA and graduated as the class valedictorian in 1974. He also studied at Princeton and Yale Graduate Schools, as well as at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has been a congregational rabbi for 39 years, since his ordination from JTS.

Rabbi Listfield’s extensive experience began in Hollywood, FL, as Associate Rabbi of Temple Sinai, then continued as Associate Rabbi in Washington, DC, at Adas Israel. While in Washington, he created the largest synagogue singles program in America and is responsible for over 100 marriages. Stephen Listfield was a full-time congregational rabbi for 40 years. Since his retirement in 2014, he has been officiating as part-time rabbi of Congregation Etz Chayim in Huntsville, AL. He was also Interim Rabbi at the Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Atlanta during Rabbi Neil Sandler’s sabbatical in 2016.

OVS Strategic Plan

As an outcome of the 2017 annual meeting, the OVS board launched a formal initiative to better understand the needs of our Keilah, the results of which were presented at the 2018 annual meeting on Sunday, December 9th, OVS members can see results of the report by logging in to their account on this site and then clicking on this link.

AmazonSmile - Support OVS

AmazonSmile: Support OVS When You Shop!

Support Congregation Or VeShalom when you shop, whether it's back-to-school or other essentials! And remember to place the word "smile" before you type in the website.

Click the link here or on the logo to ensure you are signed up to support OVS.

You shop. Amazon donates!

Security Fund Update

Thank you to those who have answered the call to donate to the OVS Security Fund. If you have not already, please click here to make your pledge. With your help, we will continue to improve our building to ensure the safety of our community.

Your Path to Spanish Citizenship Begins at OVS

When Luis  Portero, an attorney licensed to practice in Spain and served as counsel for the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain during the parliamentary process of approval of the Law on granting the Spanish citizenship to Sephardim, presented at OVS last spring, he discussed the process of getting the law enacted, of which he was a major contributor, and presented on the steps involved in applying  for Spanish Citizenship through this program. A copy of his presentation, including a detailed walkthrough of the process, can be found here.


Or VeShalom is proud to be a guide for you through this process. Note that the program ends on October 1, 2019, so get started today. To find out more and begin the process, click here.

OVS Featured in NY Times Article by Joan Nathan

In her New York Times article on Monday, November 26, Joan Nathan highlights OVS Sisterhood's long-standing tradition of Bureka Tuesdays. Join us this upcoming Sunday for our annual Hanukkah Bazaar and try a Bureka for yourself. 

Thoughts from OVS Leadership

Rabbi's Kassorla's D'vrei Torah


Messages from Michael Bouhadana


OVS Founders Map Project

We are happy to announce that the OVS History Committee has concluded its two-year project of identifying, on an Atlanta city map, early OVS members’ residences and businesses located on Atlanta’s Southside. To learn more and find out how to purchase a copy of the map, click here.

You are invited to examine the map reproduced on glossy photographic paper and the accompanying booklet. 

Fri, May 29 2020 6 Sivan 5780