MRJ Men's Stories - My Jewish Life (Short Version)

 My Jewish Life

Dave Oney


My Jewish Life started in 1974, when I was married to Fran by a Rabbi who specialized in (and still specializes in) officiating at interfaith marriages.  I did not recognize or understand much of the traditions and rituals that were present in our ceremony, but did manage to stand under the chupa and break the glass and begin a fascinating and captivating new life.

My Jewish Life started in the summer of 1995. I met with Rabbi Gross of Temple Beth Orr in Coral Springs FL to explore the path of conversion to Judaism. He was welcoming, informative and understanding. We read, discussed and learned together. After what I thought was a very short time, he said he was ready for my conversion whenever I felt I was ready.

My Jewish Life started in 1996.  It just proceeded Presidents weekend. It was a Wednesday. I met the Rabbi at the ocean for my Mikvah. There were two witnesses, both friends. The water was cold, the current was strong, and the robe was heavy, even heavier when wet. As prepared as I was, I was unprepared. As sure as I was, I was unsure. As committed as I was, I was committed.  Wednesday afternoon, in the Rabbi’s study, we conducted a Brit Milah, with me as the center of attention.  The Mohel brought a rack designed for a baby. We didn’t use it. It was painless, although on the edge of embarrassing. The Rabbi conducted a Bet Din, again in his study. The questions were sincere, as were the answers. Once they were satisfied that I was converting for the right reasons, we proceeded to the Ark, where in the presence of the Torah, I converted.

My Jewish Life started the following Thursday. Jerry Siegel (z”l) of the NFTB asked Marc Brawer to resurrect a Brotherhood at TBO. I volunteered to be the first President of Brotherhood TBO had in years. I held that position for the next four and a half years.  During that time, Jerry recommended me to join the board of the North American Federation of Temple Brotherhoods, and I was elected at the Biennial meeting in Orlando.  I became Secretary of the South East Council of NFTB then NFTB Assistant Treasurer, Treasurer, Vice President and now First Vice President, as well as sitting on the Advisory Board of the Jewish Chautauqua Society and being a member of several committees.

My Jewish life continued in 2000 when I attended the UAHC Outreach Fellows Program in Cincinnati. I never experienced anything like that week with like-minded soon-to-be-friends. 

My Jewish Life continued at TBO as Treasurer, although I knew little about Treasuring when I started last year, Liaison to Budget and Finance, Brotherhood, Building and Grounds and UAHC Outreach Program. I serve on the Catering Committee, Chai Society Committee, along with others I helped established the Emergency Relief Services, and was chair of the Outreach Committee. Ultimately I became 1st Vice President but had to step down due to some unfortunate business considerations and finally became the TBE Administrator for 3½ years before I left to work at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton Florida. I was ready to step back, out of the lime light, below the fray

Note that most of the acronyms above have changed. UAHC is URJ, NFTB is MRJ and as one more change I gladly stepped back into the lime light to accept the position of Mausoleum Director at TBE in Boca. Perhaps the story will continue soon.

Dave Oney
Temple Beth El 
Boca Raton FL
January 2014