Posted on October 1, 2011
In celebrating the 50th year of the founding of Temple Beth David, this month’s member spotlight is Hannah Levine, who, along with her recently deceased husband of 61 years, Robert, were one of the original founders of Temple Beth David. Hannah is the longest active member of Temple Beth David at 50 years!
Hannah and Robert were both raised in Kansas City, Mo. and met each other at a popular dance spot where the Jewish fraternities and sororities would go called the Pla-Mor Ballroom. They married in 1950 and in 1954 moved out west where an opportunity to take over a deli shop from a relative presented itself.
Wanting to create a Jewish life for themselves and their two children, they first attended services at Temple Israel of Long Beach when one day Rabbi Wolli Kaelter said to them and to several other couples, “you Orange County Jews need to have a temple of your own.”
His message stuck with them and a few years later when several couples approached them and asked would they join in helping to create what would become Temple Beth David, they wholeheartedly said yes! “Everyone was just so wonderful to be with and that is why we agreed to be a part of this group,” says Hannah.
Hannah recalls how in the early days they had services in a church in Los Alamitos and in fact recalls fondly that her son had his Bar Mitzvah under the tutelage of Cantor Newman there.
Hannah’s temple resume’ includes being one of the first sisterhood presidents. She now is a member of the choir and loves it! “Nancy is a very special person,” says Hannah, “and I love all the people in it.” Belonging to the choir at this time is very important for her as she copes with the loss of her husband. Her only regret is that she didn’t join the choir years ago.
She also loves to attend the lay-led minyan with Larry Matalon on Saturday mornings. There, too, she just feels so comfortable when she walks into the room and sees all her loving friends.
She especially has appreciated the rabbi during this time over her loss. She has been there for her many times to help her grieve and to be a caring ear to listen to.
Outside of temple, Hannah is a proud member of Hadassah and last year earned the “Hadassah Leadership Award.” It was Hadassah’s 100th year anniversary and as part of the commemoration members sent out 100 invitations for people to join. Hannah did and 80 new members responded yes!
Among her other accomplishments, Hannah is one of the founders of Heritage Pointe located in Mission Viejo. Twenty years ago, working alongside Loretta Modelevsky, she and other dedicated individuals created a facility that offered senior living in a Jewish tradition. She is especially proud of what was created and smiles broadly when she talks about the stunning synagogue that is there.
Hannah worked for a real estate firm when her children left home and although she is retired will occasionally get a call from them to come in and help out. “I just had to learn to use a computer,” says Hannah, and she did and spent 20 wonderful years with them. They love her so much that they closed their office on the day of her husband’s funeral. That meant a lot to her. Hannah’s favorite hobby is gardening. Ask her about her orchids and then get comfortable because she’s going to give you a real education!
Hannah Levine is a very special lady and we are so glad to have her in our family at Temple Beth David.