Bahai News -- THE ROANOKE TIMES - Teens find community in Norah Saturday, March 29, 2003

Teens find community in Norah


Jewish teens say they don't encounter a lot of anti-Semitism in the New River Valley. But a lack of peers can be difficult, according to Ira Klein, a senior at Blacksburg High School and co-president of the local chapter of the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization.

    To alleviate some of that isolation, two years ago the Jewish youth groups from Blacksburg and Roanoke worked together to create one B'nai B'rith group called Norah, which means "beauty" in Hebrew.

    Today about 15 teens from both valleys are members of Norah. The Blacksburg Jewish Community Center and Roanoke's Beth Israel Synagogue jointly sponsor the group.

    B'nai B'rith was founded in 1922 in the Midwest by two young men who were rejected by a college fraternity because they were Jewish, Klein said. The goals were to provide social networks, religious education and leadership experience and to raise funds for Jewish charities.

    Today it is an international organization run exclusively by Jewish youth, for Jewish youth, and the goals remain the same. Adult advisers do participate, but their jobs are limited. "We keep the peace and are the chauffeurs," said Francine Krawitz, adviser to the local group. Her daughter, Hayley, is a member.

    Hayley Krawitz says she is the only Jewish teen at Christiansburg High School, where she is a senior. If it weren't for Norah, she wouldn't have a cultural and religious peer group. She is director of membership for the local chapter.

    Klein recently organized a convention for the regional council, which includes 350 students from several cities in Virginia and North Carolina.

    He said he has learned valuable lessons about leadership that will serve him well as he goes off to college. "It's helped me realize that to be an effective leader, you have build trust and you have to build relationships," he said.

    Members can hold offices at the local, regional and national levels, essentially governing the organization. They have a constitution and must use parliamentary procedure in meetings. "It's basically citizenship training," Klein said.

    Members of Norah also had to learn to deal with religious differences within the group. Because there aren't many Jewish families in the New River Valley, there is only one synagogue, which accommodates both Conservative and Re-

   form worshipers. Although B'nai B'rith is technically a Conservative organization, some of the students who participate come from Reform backgrounds. To bridge the gap, Norah members decided to make no distinctions based on religious practice.

    "It's probably different if you live in a place where there are more Jews," Klein said. "But here you kind of have to develop your own brand Judaism." Norah provides some structure for that process.

    On the Web:


    Blacksburg Quaker Friends meeting is collecting items for health and hygiene kits to send to Iraqi civilians. Bars of soap, shampoo, toothpaste, hairbrushes, combs, fingernail clippers and 40-count packages of adhesive bandages are needed. Donations can be made at Cooper House on Washington Street in Blacksburg until Sunday.


    Former Radford University Baptist campus minister Deena McAfee will be ordained at First Baptist Church in Radford on Sunday.


    On April 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., First Baptist Church in Narrows will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a display of quilts made by members. Admission is free.


    Upcoming religious events:

    Spring revival. Today, 10 a.m., Alleghany Church of Christ, North Franklin Street, Christiansburg. James "Beaver" Terry, a native of Christiansburg and a 1984 graduate of Christiansburg High School, will be the guest speaker. There will be special music. Transportation is available and nursery will be provided. 382-9039.

    Pancake supper. Today, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Christiansburg Pentecostal Holiness Church, Third and Phlegar streets. Pancakes, sausage and gravy will be served. Donations requested. Proceeds will benefit the men's ministry. 745-7416 or 382-9429.

    Humanist dinner. Today, 5:30 p.m., Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the New River Valley, 1301 Gladewood Drive, Blacksburg. Potluck dinner and guest speaker. Don Langrehr of Radford University will lead a discussion on "Media Literacy: Focusing on violence and body language." 552-8050.

    Weekly Halaqa (prayer). Today, 8:15 p.m., Islamic Center of Blacksburg, 106 S. Park Drive. Isha Prayer will be delivered. Please bring refreshments to share. Adults and kids memorizing Halqas, please contact the imam at Visitors are asked to follow a dress code and code of etiquette. Details: 953-4622 or

    "Creativity and the source of human good." Sunday, 9:30 and 11 a.m., Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the New River Valley, 1301 Gladewood Drive, Blacksburg. Carter Turner, doctoral candidate in religious and theological studies at the University of Denver in Colorado, will speak about God's creative force and the ways it works in human lives. There will be a drumming circle at both services. 552-8050.

    Pentecostal revival. Sunday, 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., Merrimac Pentecostal Holiness Church, 894 Merrimac Road, Blacksburg. Evangelist Larry Queen from Newport News will lead the revival, which continues through April 6.

    "The Sabbatical Journey." Works created by the Rev. Kelly Sisson and members of the church during a time of sabbatical and renewal will go on display Sunday and remain through May 18. Reception, 2-4 p.m., with African drumming at 3:15 p.m. Glade Church Gallery, 1600 Glade Road, Blacksburg. 552-3394 or 626-3278.

    Lenten service. Sunday, 7 p.m., Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren, 409 Ridgeview Road., Floyd. Jim Worline will speak. 745-2808.

    Gospel singing. Sunday,

   7 p.m., Shawsville Congregational Holiness Church, 674 Alleghany Springs Road. Offerings accepted to benefit local food bank. 268-2466.

    Islamic prayer services. Through Sunday at the Islamic Center of Blacksburg, 106 S. Park Drive. The five daily prayers will be led at the following times: Fajr (morning) at 5:20 a.m., Zuhr (midday) at 12:50 p.m., Asr (afternoon) at 4:15 p.m., Maghreb (sunset) at 6:45 p.m., Esha (night) at 8:15 p.m. There will also be a Koran recitation at 7 p.m.

    "The War Prayer." Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m., Cooper House, Washington Street, Blacksburg. Local actor Elizabeth McCommon will perform Mark Twain's "The War Prayer." Organizations interested in hosting a similar reading may call Sim Landress, 951-3821.

    Benedictine spirituality and prayer group. Tuesdays, noon, Newman Community chapel, 203 Otey St., Blacksburg. Participants enter the chapel in silence, pray the Liturgy of the Hours for 20-25 minutes, then depart in silence. On the first Tuesday of each month, there is an extended meeting time after prayer with conversation, sharing of reflections and readings from The Rule of St. Benedict. 552-2473 or 951-0032.

    Midweek Lenten services. Wednesday at St. Michael Lutheran, 2308 Merrimac Road; April 9 at New Mount Zion Lutheran, 2350 Poverty Creek Road. Each evening, a potluck dinner will begin at 6 p.m. and worship will begin at 6:45 p.m.

    "Faith in Troubled Times," an ecumenical Lenten ministry. Wednesdays throughout Lent. Dinner at 5:45 p.m., prayer and service at 6:30 p.m. Child care provided. Wednesday, Luther Memorial Lutheran Church, Prices Fork and Toms Creek roads, 951-1000, with the Rev. Reggie Tuck on "Hope."

    "Islam: A perspective on life." Wednesday, 6:30 p.m., Squires Commonwealth Ballroom, Virginia Tech. Muslim chaplain Siraj Wahhaj of the Al-Taqwa Mosque in Brooklyn, N.Y., will give the keynote address for Islamic Awareness Week. Wahhaj gave the first Islamic invocation to Congress and is well-known for his anti-drug campaigns in his native Brooklyn and leadership in the major Islamic organizations in America. Other events include an open house at Blacksburg's Al-Ihsan Mosque, 1302 North Main St., on April 6 at 4 p.m. For more information: or

    Revival. April 4-6, 7 each evening, Christiansburg Congregational Holiness Church, 1040 South Harless St. Evangelist Steve Board will preach. 382-9623.

    Robyn Helzner Trio performances. April 5 at 8:15 p.m. and April 6 at 10 a.m., Blacksburg Jewish Community Center, Church Street. $5 for nonmembers. Melanie Dankowicz, 552-7870.

    Blacksburg Counseling Ministries open house. April 6, 12-2:30 p.m., Blacksburg Presbyterian Church, Church and Eakin streets. Meet the pastoral counselor, the Rev. Catherine McCollough, L.C.S.W., and learn more about the ministry.

    "A Gathering of Spiritual Unity." April 6, 3 p.m., Blacksburg Public Library community room, 400 Draper Road. A sharing of prayers, writings and music from many faith traditions. The focus will be "The Divine Springtime" - Naw Ruz (the Baha'i new year), Easter, Spring.

    International celebration of Christian faith. April 6, 4:30 p.m., Blacksburg Baptist Church, North Main Street. A one-hour worship service for Christians from China, Korea and Blacksburg, with music, dance and a video presentation. A potluck dinner will follow at 6 p.m. Sponsored by the Blacksburg Baptist Deacon Fellowship. 552-3869.

    Forum on funding human services. April 7, 7:30 p.m., Blacksburg Library, 400 Draper Road. A panel including Montgomery County legislators will discuss Virginia's funding crisis and its effect on human services. Sponsored by the New River Chapter of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. 552-3238 or 552-2258.


    Tonia Moxley: 381-1643,

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