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Yom Shabbat, 1 Heshvan 5778

You are invited 

as we celebrate Davida Wohl and Karl Yesse,

our Simchat Torah Honorees

 

 

Wednesday, October 11 at 6:30 pm

karl davida 

 A small way of saying
 "Todah Rabbah"
for their extraordinary dedication
and devotion to Congregation Berith Sholom

 

Learning, Music and Love: Celebrating Davida Wohl and Karl Yesse
by Amy Lovett

On the occasion of Simchat Torah, a time when Jews the world over rejoice, marching, singing and dancing in celebration of the Torah, it is only fitting that Congregation Berith Sholom celebrates two people that have filled our congregation with learning, music and love: Davida Wohl and Karl Yesse.
 
The two first met when Wohl joined the congregation 13 years ago. They became friends and, not long after, a couple. They celebrated a “Joining Ceremony” on Valentine’s Day in 2016, surrounded by their friends and blended families.
 
Wohl has taught more than 25 first-, second- and third-graders as a beloved teacher and tutor at the Troy Jewish Community Religious School (TJCRS). Her classroom is a comfortable space, decorated with Hebrew alphabet pillows she stitched for each pupil as well as colorful tapestries and posters. It’s also a comfortable space for children of all abilities to learn and thrive. Although she adapts her multi-sensory approach to meet students where they are educationally and behaviorally, she has high expectations for all of them.
 
Yesse is often at Sunday school, too, teaching and tutoring students and taking care of any needs or questions that arise in the school or synagogue. He maintains the congregation’s Mi Shebeirach list of people who are in need of healing. He also serves as shammes for the synagogue, opening and closing the building and handing out prayer books on Shabbat. Over the years, he’s led many Friday-night services, and it’s rare to attend an event or meeting at the synagogue or school without receiving one of Yesse’s hearty greetings and warm handshakes.
 
The couple have sung together in the choir for eight years—Wohl as an alto, Yesse a bass. Yesse also serves as the choir librarian, providing printed music for the choir members.
 
The two share many other creative talents with the congregation. Yesse is a skilled calligrapher in Hebrew and English. Wohl, meanwhile, designed beautiful appliqué panels that each year transform a portion of the synagogue’s Benjamin Social Hall into a peaceful sanctuary for additional High Holiday seating.
 
As members of the synagogue and school parents will attest, it’s impossible to capture the breadth and depth of Wohl and Yesse’s commitment to Berith Sholom and TJCRS. 
 
Lisa Stoler, a congregant and TJCRS parent who has taught with Wohl, says she is struck by her breadth of knowledge and her deep connection with students.
 
“Not only does Davida know all the stories we were learning, but she knows the back stories and how everyone is related,” Stoler says. “Davida makes it fun. She has lots of tricks that she teaches them to make the Hebrew easier to remember—lots of mnemonics. She’ll break things down so students can understand them.”
 
Both of Stoler’s daughters learned much from Wohl—her younger daughter Sarah as a student and her older daughter Violet as a madrichah or teaching assistant. “Sarah always loved going to Davida’s class—and Sunday school can be a lot for a kid,” Stoler says. “And whenever Violet had an idea, Davida took it seriously and made her feel like an important part of the class.”
 
Sandi Costello, Berith Sholom treasurer and a fellow choir member, says Wohl and Yesse’s “commitment to the congregation is exemplary.”
 
“I love to watch Davida with our Hebrew school children. She really listens to them, and she always has a big smile on her face,” Costello says. “She is always ready to share her talents, not to mention hundreds of hours of her time.”
 
Of Yesse, Costello says, “It’s unusual to find a Friday-night service without Karl in attendance. “His hearty ‘Good Shabbos!’ sets just the right tone.”
 
As choir librarian, Yesse is the “go-to person” when a choir member needs printed music for rehearsals, Costello says. Dan Foster, director of the choir, says choir librarian is an “absolutely enormous job. We couldn’t function without him.”
 
Foster says he was honored to serve as the Shomer for Yesse and Wohl’s Joining Ceremony, adding, “Berith Sholom is blessed by their enormous participation in the congregation.”
 
Says Rabbi Debora Gordon of the couple: “Davida is a gifted teacher and tutor, and she continues to share her love of Judaism and her sensible attitude toward life with generation after generation.” And in addition to the many roles Yesse plays, Gordon says, “Karl has been a steady presence on the bimah; his deep bass voice and ‘Borchu es Adonoi ham’voroch’ are unmistakable.”
 
Congregation Berith Sholom is honored to recognize Davida Wohl and Karl Yesse.