If you love it; don’t leave it

painting of maroc island, florida

My copyrighted painting of Marco Island, Florida.

Labor Day is just around the corner. On the weekend of September 7, most Americans will celebrate the end of summer with a barbecue or a trip to the beach. This is just a friendly reminder not to leave trash at your favorite beach.

I just looked at a website on International Coastal Clean-up day and saw the list of the top ten items collected during Clean-up day. Cigarette Butts head the list followed by food wrappers (candy, chips, etc.), plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle cups, straws, stirrers, other plastic bags, grocery plastic bags, glass beverage bottles, beverage cans and plastic cups and plates.

As the website says “Let’s keep the sea healthy for sea turtles, polar bears, whales and people like you.”

For more information on International Coastal Clean-up Day visit, http://www.oceanconservancy.org.


Memories of Honfleur

picture of honfleur

Port of Honfleur, France.

Last year, I visited the wonderful coastal town of Honfleur in the province of Normandy in France. Honfleur is the hometown of artist Eugéne Boudin who encouraged Claude Monet to paint landscapes. Boudin also inspired Monet to paint outdoors. Boudin was one of the first landscape artists to paint outdoors.

Honfleur is located on the southern bank of an estuary on the Seine River across from the city of le Harve. During my visit, I painted the port of Honfleur and visited Sainte-Catherine Church which is the largest wood church in France.

I also visited the Musee Eugéne Boudin. I was excited to see paintings by Monet’s mentor and friend. Boudin’s father was once a harbor pilot and Boudin worked on a steamboat as a child. He drew on the depth of his knowledge of the sea to paint masterful seascapes.

Creating A Mosaic in Miami Beach


An Art Deco chandlier and displays inside the museum.

An Art Deco chandlier and displays inside the museum.

I have a cousin who is really into genealogy. He has dedicated an entire room in his house to his research. He looks at graveyards, court records and talks to family elders to make sense out of our family history. If you talk to him, he rambles on about names and lineage as if speaking a foreign language! There is real value in what he does. He is creating a Mosaic of my family history. We are learning who we are.

The American story is a like a Mosaic. Mosaics are made of many pieces called “tesserae.” Like puzzles one piece, one missing tesserae affects the entire story or image. How we see ourselves are results of the Mosaic.

A picture of the museum

The Jewish Museum Florida FIU.

The Jewish Museum Florida FIU has a permanent collection called “Mosaic.” The collection tells the story of Jewish life in Florida for more than 250 years.

The story begins in 1763 when Jews were first allowed in Florida and shares their contributions to the development of the “Sunshine State.”

At the museum, watch an introductory film and see exhibits in the former 1936 synagogue designed by noted Art Deco architect, Henry Hohauser.

The Jonathan Symons Building hosts changing exhibits.

The Jonathan Symons Building hosts changing exhibits.

Explore the temporary exhibit, “The Seventh Day: Revisiting Shabbat” in the Jonathan Symons Building.

Get a snack at Bessie’s Bistro. It was named after the first Jewish “Miss America,” Bess Myerson. Don’t miss the display in the Bistro that celebrates Miami Beach’s Centennial.

Learning about each part of our Mosaic helps us appreciate the values and cultures in our nation.

For more information on the Jewish Museum Florida FIU, visit http://www.jmof.fiu.edu.

Appetite for Art Deco

I love this building! It is Manola's former site of Friedman's Kosher Bakery.

I love this building! It is Manolo’s Restaurant former site of Friedman’s Kosher Bakery.

I am not a foodie still I decided to take the Jewish Food Walking Tour at the Miami Beach Jewish Museum Florida-FIU. I signed up online and paid the $46 fee for non members.

The tour started promptly at 11am. There were spaces for 20 people. This group consisted of four people plus the tour guide, Howard Brayer.

We sat in the prayer hall and were given an overview of Jewish history in Miami Beach. After grabbing a bottle of water, we stopped outside to view the building. Henry Houhauser was the architect of the former Beth Jacob Synagogue that now houses Jewish Museum Florida-FIU. Houhaser built over 100 hotels and apartments in Miami Beach in 5 years.

We paused a moment to pay homage at Anne Frank Park now a converted parking lot.

Falafel and Israeli salad.

Falafel and Israeli salad.

We headed for breakfast at Aroma, an Israeli coffee chain. I had apple juice and a borek pastry.

Afterwards, our guide explained the role Jewish restaurants played in the history of Miami Beach.

During the tour, we enjoyed Falafel and a Israeli salad at Pita Loca.

Then fish tacos from My Ceviche. We were served by the tour guide who sometimes doubled as a busboy! He was a pleasant host and an excellent tour guide.

As we neared the end of our tour, we stopped by Joe’s Stone Crabs for a chat. The founders of Joe’s were the first Jewish family to live in Miami Beach.

It was pointed out during the tour that for the most parts Jews at one time could not live north of 5th Street. In spite of discrimination, many Jewish entrepreneurs thrived.

Bessie's Bistro

Bessie’s Bistro at the Jewish Museum Florida-FIU.

We ended the tour on a sweet note with dessert at Bessie’s Bistro. It was named in honor of Bess Myerson the first Jewish woman to become “Miss America.”

The next Jewish Food Tour will be September 6. For more information, visit www. jmof.fiu.edu.

Perceptions and Preservations at Miami Beach

Lessons from a plant

Lessons from a Plant (Studio Apartments by Henry Houhauser).

Two years after moving to Miami, Barbara Capitman’s husband died. Instead of packing up her bags and feeling sorry for herself she decided to make new friends and help others.

She looked at Miami Beach and saw the old boarded up buildings and the people living in them. Developers only saw the buildings and wanted to tear them. Capitman would not relent.

Because of Capitman’s personal crusade, Miami Beach’s Art Deco District is on the National Register of Historic Places.

In celebration of Rosh Hashanah, I am paying tribute to Barbara Capitman, Jewish founder of the Miami Design Preservation League.

I will be displaying two paintings of Art Deco buildings in the First Coast Pastel Society’s “Perceptions in Pastel” exhibit.

The exhibit is September 4-30. at the Jewish Community Alliance (JCA) Vandroff Gallery. The opening reception is September 13. The JCA is located at 8505 San Jose Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida. For more information, visit http://www.firstcoastpastelsociety.com.

Rested and Resouled

Ready challah cover

READY challah cover by Reeva Shaffer.

I have been thinking a lot about entering into a season of rest. A season to detox my mind.

In the last year, I’ve been to Paris, had three art exhibits, had art trips, taught art classes, visited and painted 15 lighthouses.

More activities equate to more “resouling.” I saw this word in Miami Beach at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU exhibit on the “Shabbat” or Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day of rest.

Various artists lent their interpretations of the exhibit title: “The Seventh Day: Revisiting Shabbat.”

My favorite piece was AM I READY by Reeva Shaffer. It was a Triptych silk embroidery. “AM” the first embroidery searches for harmony. “I” the second embroidery looks for a peaceful mindset for Shabbat. It leaves the chaos of life, stress and work. The third embroidery “READY” represents the “peace and rest of Shabbat.” Bits of chaos are always present just under the surface.

The embroideries are challah covers. The challah covers are used to cover bread for the Sabbath.

For more information on the exhibit visit http://www.jmof.fiu.edu

Stressed Out Fido

Rested and Resouled

Narrative of Rested and “Resouled.”

It seems man’s best friend is stressed out. I just saw an article with tips on how to reduce your pets’ stress. The culprit is lack of quality time with their owners.

Female Millennials cry at least one night a week due to stress and overwhelming demands. Not enough time.

Kids are not immune. Today’s child is more programmed than ever. When I had my grandson for the summer all he wanted was a quiet summer. In spite my list of things to do, he just wanted to stay home. My sister said her grandkids did the same thing.

I was thinking about all this at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU Shavat Vayinafash: Rested and “Resouled” exhibit. The exhibit sign explained: ” A respite and a resouling- these are the essence of Shabbat. Taking a respite from time and its normative activities and finding a way to reclaim our souls, our true selves.”

When we guard our time, we are reclaiming our souls. Time is the only commodity you can’t replace.