As the old popular rye bread ad went, you don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s.
And neither, like Violet Smith, to love Temple Beth-El of City Island.
Smith, who is Christian, started attending services there after one of her grandchildren died and a friend put his name on the memorial wall to be prayed for each Friday night for a year.
After that, she felt drawn to the temple and continues to attend services.
She is one of two people, along with a local restaurant, that will be honored by the temple Saturday, May 5 at the Pelham/Split Rock Golf Course.
Rabbi Shohama Wiener, will also be honored for her ten-year anniversary as the temple’s spiritual leader, as well as nearby Seafood City for allowing members to use their parking facilities during the high Holy Days.
“I attend temple frequently because the service is very moving and it means a whole lot to me,” said Smith. “I feel really special and really honored by the temple.”
Wiener became involved with Temple Beth-El of City Island in 2002 after having been one of the first woman to head a rabbinic seminary.
“Temple Beth-El of City Island is a uniquely vibrant, loving and inclusive community, welcoming people of all faiths and backgrounds,” said Wiener.
“The big honor is that they have chosen me as their spiritual leader for ten years, and want me to continue.”
From 1987 to 2001, she served as dean and then president and spiritual director of The Academy for Jewish Religion in Riverdale, a non-denominational seminary that ordains rabbis and cantors.
She currently holds the title of President Emerita there.
Wiener graduated Wellesley College and Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
She also earned her rabbinic ordination from The Academy for Jewish Religion, and a degree from New York Theological Seminary.
She is married, with four adult children and a growing number of grandchildren.
Seafood City secretary Aimee Breen, who will accept the honor on behalf of the restaurant.
She said she was “very surprised, and honored.”