Nancy Oyer | Butte, MT
Nancy Oyer is not a native of Butte, but moved there to take a job as a geologist, which she loves. At first she didn’t like the city but has grown to love it. She grew up religiously observant and is very spiritual, and feels a longing to spend time in Israel, where she travels frequently, as well as Montana. Nancy is very artistic and plays the flute and guitar and sings. She served as president of the synagogue during the filming (a position she no longer holds), and feels strongly that the building and its essence should be maintained even though she acknowledges that it will be increasingly difficult as the Jewish population in Butte continues to decline. Nancy reluctantly leads holiday services because of the pressure of preparation and the “showmanship” of the job. Worship, however, is extremely important to her.
Uri and Susie Druker | Laredo, TX
Uri and Susie Druker were both born and raised in Laredo and both went away to college – Uri is an attorney with a practice in Laredo and Susie is a speech pathologist. They had an interfaith marriage officiated by a Rabbi and a Priest that angered both of their families. Uri “dragged” Susie back to Laredo out of loyalty to the community, his family, and the synagogue, and Susie converted to Judaism. Uri is concerned that she is truly unable to live as a Jew in a community the size of Laredo. They are both extremely committed to their children and maintaining a strong family life for them. They remain conflicted about whether they can continue that goal in Laredo. Uri became president of the synagogue “by default” but feels he can bridge the gaps in the Jewish community as a neutral party. However, he laments the lack of time he has between his family responsibilities and his law practice to spend on synagogue matters.
Mickey Radman | Latrobe, PA
Mickey Radman grew up in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, where there was a fairly large Jewish community with Hebrew and Sunday schools, a full time Rabbi and Cantor, and local chapters of national Jewish organizations. He was drawn to Latrobe in 1958 to join his father and brother in owning and operating three retail clothing stores. He has three grown children living in North Carolina, California, and Colorado. He views the synagogue as “My Synagogue” and it is his extended family. He handles all the details of maintaining the synagogue from bill paying, to taking care of the building, to arranging the religious services. His closest friends are synagogue members, and met he David Balk there when he first arrived in 1958; their wives, Janet and Roz, are like sisters. Mickey has grudgingly reached the conclusion that the synagogue must close but is determined to keep it open long enough for David Balk’s granddaughter to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah there.
The Balk Family | Latrobe, PA
David and Roz Balk are the patriarchs of the Balk Family. Although they live in Pittsburgh (roughly 45 minutes away from Latrobe) they commute regularly for services and special events. They are driven by their son, Brian, an attorney in Pittsburgh, and often accompanied by Brian’s wife, Carol, and their two daughters Dalyah and Ellie. The family constitutes six of the members needed to achieve a minyan (the 10 people required by Jewish law to hold a religious service), and it would be a challenge for the synagogue to continue without their willingness to make the trip. David Balk moved to Latrobe in the late 50’s for business, but established residence in Pittsburgh upon retirement. He is very observant and extremely reluctant to acknowledge that the synagogue is on the verge of closing due to lack of membership. Ellie approaches the Bat Mitzvah age of 13 during the film and we watch as she and the family prepare for this wonderful celebration knowing that it will be the last major event before the synagogue closes its doors.
Jeanette Wolff | Latrobe, PA
Jeanette Wolff grew up in Salem Township. Pennsylvania and was 13 before she found out from her mother on her deathbed that she was Jewish. She fell in love with the traditions and holidays and found the synagogue in Latrobe to be warm and welcoming. She has delivered sermons there for 17 years! Jeanette has worked as a journalist, social worker, and for a a paint and wallpaper company. She is proud of being personally involved in the remodeling of the synagogue, where everyone used their own unique talents, and they did not hire anyone for the project. She considers Janet Radman among her closest friends, and when she became ill not long ago she asked Mickey and David Balk to handle her funeral services.
The Arenson Family | Dothan, AL
Terence and Karen Arenson and their daughter Emily were among the first families to take part in the “Family Relocation Project” of the Blumberg Family Jewish Community Services of Dothan. Terence was born in South Africa and lived there until his family moved to Los Angeles when he was 13. He felt intimidated living in Los Angeles as a Jew and yearned to live in a smaller, warmer Jewish community. He married Karen and moved with her to Los Angeles to run a company that sells Jewish spiritual items primarily to synagogues and Judaica stores. Their young daughter, Emily was adopted and the Arensons were eager for her to grow up in a comfortable, smaller town Jewish environment before she developed friendships in Los Angeles. They jumped at the chance to participate in the Relocation Project.
Rob Goldsmith | Dothan, AL
Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Rob Goldsmith worked in higher education administration for nearly 30 years before he was lured by Larry Blumberg to become the Director of the Blumberg Family Jewish Community Services of Dothan where he is the only staff person. He also works for Larry Blumberg’s business – a hotel management company – LBA Properties. His wife, Lynne, became the Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Dothan, and together they were ready to embark on a new experience. Rob grew up “culturally” Jewish, and when his younger son was studying for his Bar Mitzvah, his older son decided that he, too, would like to have a Bar Mitzvah. Rob, who had never had a Bar Mitzvah himself joined his sons and celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at age 49. It was a moving family experience.
Rabbi Lynne Goldsmith | Dothan, AL
Rabbi Lynne Goldsmith is a “Jew by Choice” (formerly a non-Jew) who chose to become a Jew and a Rabbi later in life as a second career. When she learned That Temple Emanu-El was looking for a Rabbi it had only 38 members. Her presence and energy and the Relocation Project increased the number of families that belong to the temple to 72 in the first 6 years of her rabbinate. She is Connecticut-raised and is finding the heavily Christian South a challenge but a good fit for her and her husband.
Larry Blumberg | Dothan, AL
Larry Blumberg has backed the Relocation Project financially with a goal of bringing 20 new families to the town he loves. The goal has not been reached yet, but hopes are high. The family store, Blumberg’s, was a huge department store and staple of the community. His LBA properties which owns and operates hotels is also successful. The Blumbergs are a longstanding member of the community which fuels his desire to strengthen the Jewish community there.