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2017-08-25 digital edition

TODAY in the Jewish World:

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


August 25, 2017  RSS feed
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Text: T T T

Temple Ahavat Shalom to dedicate Entel Benjamin Campus on Sept. 8

(L-R) Back row, Alyssa Benjamin, Steven Benjamin, Susan Benjamin, Robert Entel, Richard Entel, and Rachel Benjamin. Front row: Daniel Benjamin, Irwin Entel and Syd Entel (L-R) Back row, Alyssa Benjamin, Steven Benjamin, Susan Benjamin, Robert Entel, Richard Entel, and Rachel Benjamin. Front row: Daniel Benjamin, Irwin Entel and Syd Entel Earlier this summer, just months after Temple Ahavat Shalom celebrated its 40th anniversary, Syd and Irwin Entel, Robert Entel and Susan and Steven Benjamin bestowed a transformative gift of more than $1 million to Temple Ahavat Shalom, creating the newly named Entel Benjamin Campus of Temple Ahavat Shalom.

As a tribute to the family, the congregation will hold the dedication of its Entel Benjamin Campus for temple members and special guests on Friday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m.

The family members have all been actively involved in the life of the congregation for many years. This gift aims to ensure the congregation continues to thrive for years to come.

“Vibrant synagogues are essential to the perpetuation of Judaism as a force for good in the lives of individual Jews and of people outside the Jewish community,” said Rabbi Gary Klein. “A gift such as the one given by the Entel/Benjamin family to our congregation will play a major role in the perpetuation of Judaism.”

Rabbi Klein added, “Despite their many achievements, their wonderful knowledge and wisdom, and their exemplary generosity, they are among the most unpretentious and undemanding people whom I have ever known. No task is ever too large or too small for any of them be it helping our president, treasurer and our other lay-leaders create a far-sighted financial plan for our congregation, creating a magnificent piece of glass art for our congregation’s lobby, volunteering in the community during our congregation’s mitzvah day, or regularly polishing the silver that adorns our Torahs.”

Syd Entel said the donation was in honor of the family’s many years of association with the temple, the rabbi and the staff. “We have celebrated our children’s and grandchildren’s mitzvahs and holidays and feel blessed in every way. We hope that our gift will enhance the spiritual, educational, and religious needs of our Temple and inspire others to do the same,” she said.

Almost 55 years ago, Syd and Irwin Entel arrived in Dunedin with their three small children: Robert, Richard and Susan The Entels moved from Brooklyn so that Irwin could start his medical career as a radiologist, in a town that the couple recognized would be a great place to raise their children.

The Jewish community in northern Pinellas County was in its infancy at the time and Syd and Irwin viewed this as an opportunity. Their vision was to ensure that their Jewish heritage lived on through them, their children, and eventually, through their grandchildren and future generations.

When Syd Entel enrolled her children in the only Reform temple in the area at that time, she learned that there were not enough qualified Hebrew teachers. So, despite her limited working knowledge of the Hebrew language, she taught herself enough Hebrew each week to provide the handful of Jewish children the gift of learning about their sacred language and heritage.

The Entel family has made similar contributions to the larger community, especially the Dunedin Fine Arts Center and Mease Hospital.

Syd and Irwin’s children also developed the values of tzedekah - charity - and tikkun olam - repairing the world.

Robert Entel, who like his father became a radiologist and practices in Pinellas and Pasco counties, noted the example set by his parents and other Jewish “pillars” of the Pinellas County Jewish community. One vivid memory was a meeting of Jewish community leaders in 1967 called by the late Charles Rutenberg, who offered his thoughts about the imminence of the Six Day War and the dire need to provide financial support for Israel.

It was the example set by the Rutenbergs, as well as the Wolsteins, the Kents, the Schicks, and by Robert’s own parents, that taught him and his siblings that it was their responsibility as Jews to give back.

From being the only Jewish child in his elementary school classes and among a small group in his childhood temple, Robert Entel witnessed the impact that a few influential Jewish families had on the community by joining together, which ultimately led to the birth of Temple Ahavat Shalom in 1976.

“Rabbi Klein and Temple Ahavat Shalom have been instrumental in my life, and a true inspiration to my family,” Robert Entel said recently, adding, “I feel that it is my personal responsibility to ensure a bright future for my temple and my Jewish community – well beyond my years.”

It is the hope of the entire family that their gift to the temple will serve as a link to a stronger Jewish community and an inspiration to others to create a lasting impact.

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