New Jewish group in Milford aims to be cultural hub

 

MILFORD — A new organization will provide cultural programs focused on Jewish history and tradition with the intent of creating a local center for Jews and non-Jews alike to learn.

The Mid-State Jewish Havorah will meet for the first time Sunday in Milford. Organizers plan to discuss the group’s goals at the meeting.

“I’m hoping that we can have a strong organization that’ll be helpful to the community,” said Larry Koch of Magnolia.

Larry Koch, one of the founders of a new Milford Jewish organization, sits by a menorah. (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

Larry Koch, one of the founders of a new Milford Jewish organization, sits by a menorah. (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

Mr. Koch is one of four Delawareans helping to create the new group, which he believes is needed because of a dearth of Jewish associations in central Delaware.

Rehoboth Beach and Wilmington both hold synagogues and cultural centers, but for residents of Kent County, there are few easily accessible places, Mr. Koch said. That leaves Jews in central Delaware without many options. According to a study from the Jewish Federation of Delaware, about 1,600 of the state’s 13,500 Jews resided in southern Delaware in 1995.

While the group obviously will revolve around Jewish practices and institutions, Mr. Koch emphasized it is not a synagogue and is aimed at a broader audience.

To that end, he and others will lecture on different aspects of Judaism in popular culture that are intended to appeal to many, such as Jewish humor, Jewish science fiction and Jewish music.

At a prior lecture on Jewish sci-fi, half the listeners were non-Jews who simply had an interest in science fiction, Mr. Koch said.

On Sunday, he’ll give a brief presentation on humor as it relates to the Jewish faith.

Famously, Jewish comedians have played a major role in American stand-up comedy, with stars like Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David and Woody Allen helping shape the nation’s current sense of humor.

Jewish humor has “been exported all over the world” from the United States and has taken a variety of forms, Mr. Koch said.

He aims for the Mid-State Jewish Havorah to have social and community events in the future, as well. In his vision, the organization will be a thriving group of dozens of members meeting at least once a month to discuss Judaism, share experiences and take part in local charitable events.

“There’s a gap there where there’s just nothing happening and it’s something that I’d love to see change,” Mr. Koch said.

He said he and the other three founders, Lucy Mehl, Ben Gotfried and Scott Marks, know each other from simple community encounters and have worked to spread the word of the new center to friends and acquaintances.

Anyone is welcome to attend the gathering, which is scheduled for 7 p.m at the Milford Community Center.

He expects Jews who seek to learn more about their heritage and non-Jews who simply are interested in community events to become involved.

On Sunday, those in attendance will discuss future meetings, plans and events.

Mr. Koch said anyone who is interested and has questions or needs a ride can call him at 335-8344.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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