Youth’s rite of passage includes Torah reading


An investment of more than two years studying Hebrew stood Ezra Ezekiel “Zeke” Winchell in good stead when the Walla Walla youth became a bar mitzvah (son of the commandment).

At 13, Zeke has reached the age when young Jewish men are duty-bound to assume religious responsibilities of adult Jews, according to his parents, Jennifer and James Winchell.

During this special ceremony, Zeke gave a reading from Torah (the Five Books of Moses) on Oct. 13 at Congregation Beth Israel on Alder Street. His rabbi, Aimee Irshay flew up from Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles to officiate.

Zeke then gave derashah (discourse) on the passage. “Joyous blessings and pronouncements by family and friends followed,” James said.

To prepare for this step, Zeke studied and acquired a reading knowledge of the language in Hebrew School at temple and in private lessons with Whitman College student Janae Edelson, and worked with Aimee for more than a year in person and in weekly sessions via Skype.

He followed a directed study of the Torah, learned several prayers in Hebrew and their music by heart and a personal reflection and commentary on a Torah portion read in Hebrew, which involves a short speech on an assigned scriptural passage, spoken in English.

Zeke’s mom is a medical writer with Coffey Communications and his dad teaches French and general studies at Whitman.

An eighth grader at Pioneer Middle School, Zeke’s goal is to become a professional musician. To that end, his interests include singing and playing guitar and saxophone. He’s also into sports and films.

A delegation of 17 Walla Walla High School students will arriving home Monday from a 10-day home stay in Sasayama, Japan.

They and five adult chaperones left for Sasayama on Oct. 3, said Robert Keatts, chairman of the Walla Walla-Sasayama Sister City Committee.

The students signed up for the trip in December 2011 and in a series of orientation sessions learned about Sasayama.

This home stay program has been ongoing since 1994. For 10 days, while students live with a family in Sasayama, they have a total immersion into Japanese life, Robert said. They received some language skills to make the experience a little easier.

Most host families have a member or two who can speak some English and normally communication is not a major obstacle, he said. Through a home stay students learn about the culture and develop a friendship that can last a life time.

Students visited Kobe, capitol of Hyogo Prefecture, and Nara, the old Capitol of Japan. They attended classes at Homei High School and met Homei High sister school students from Australia.

They had the opportunity to attend the annual food fair, local shrine festivals, National Sports Day activities and Kasugi Shrine Festival. Students also participated in pottery and Japanese cooking classes where they made mochi for rice cakes. They harvested edamame and worked on a tie dying project.

Along on the trip were Wa-Hi freshmen Andrea Beko, Cooper Bolduc, Kiauna Canada, Asia Clark, Eli Gentzler, Sabrina Keenan, Annika Michelson, Davison Norris, Alejandro Perez, Sarah Ray, Cameron Spencer and Simone Tuilaepa; and sophmores Ryan Hammond, Hayden Hartwell and Geneva Petterson.

Robert and wife Linnea Keatts were chaperones along with Andy Alexander, Frances Nishi and Melia Wallace-Wong.

Recruitment for students to participate in this event in 2013 will begin in November/December this year. Parents of and students interested in participating can contact the committee by email to or call 525-0049 after Oct. 15. Students can be from any high school in the area, not just Walla Walla. Adults interested in being a chaperone can inquire through the same contact.

It’s not too early to plan ahead for Veterans Day as Nov. 11 will be here all too soon. Veterans of Foreign Wars Grant Farmer Post 992 is extending an invitation to participate in the parade, which will be at 11 a.m. Entry forms must be returned by Nov. 5.

The VFW will serve a free breakfast from 6-10 a.m., free lunch after the parade and dinner for a $10 fee. For more details, contact Don Schack at 525-5723 or 386-3564 or the Post at 102 N. Colville St., 525-1310.

Dr. Gregory Honeycutt, 30, of Houston, Texas, and Bryan Honeycutt, 25, of East Lansing, Mich., are on the move.

They are the sons of Walla Walla High School alumni Tim, Class of 1980, and Liz Reynolds Honeycutt, Class of 1979, of Tomball, Texas; grandsons of longtime Walla Walla resident Gloria Reynolds and the late Roy Reynolds and the late Robert and Patricia Honeycutt; and nephews of Ruthanne “Ruthie” Reynolds, Wa-Hi Class of 1986.

Gregory earned his bachelor’s in biochemistry from Baylor University and his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine, where he completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in pulmonary/critical care.

He recently joined a medical practice in Tomball as a pulmonary/critical care physician.

Bryan earned his bachelor’s in English from Sam Houston State University and his master’s in English from the University of Oklahoma. He is now a first-year law student at Michigan State University College of Law.

Friends of Children of Walla Walla’s three-day Jazz & Wine Among Friends offered a fundraising effort with a twist. Instead of an auction, organizers focused on music and wine while building the Friends community Aug. 24-26.

Over the past five years, it has grown from one concert into a festival that spans the weekend and includes several venues and musical acts.

“Indeed, this event is gaining momentum and beginning to take its place on the annual calendar for the whole community,” according to a release from Friends.

Sinclair Estates tasting room hosted the first event Friday afternoon and other sites offered jazz, including Walla Faces, Marcy’s, Charles Smith and Sapolil Cellars. Local jazz musicians played and hundreds of festival-goers club crawled to sample live jazz and local wines.

The centerpiece Saturday evening featured a concert for 160 guests with Crawford-Glenn Band in the opening set, followed by an eclectic mix of 1920s and ’30s jazz from The Shanghai Woolies at Waterbrook Winery. Appetizers, wine and desserts were served

“The Woolies are the brainchild of Pink Martini trumpeter Gavin Bondy, who wowed the crowd with his virtuosity along with the other members of the eight-piece group.”

Finally, the festival capper Sunday began with a traditional parade of diners who followed the Uptown Lowdown Jazz Quartet from Land Title Plaza to Whitehouse-Crawford restaurant for a New Orleans-style jazz brunch, with shrimp and grits as well as traditional beignet fritter-style French pastries and mimosas.

The festival has grown every year. Friends plans to expand the weekend events in 2013, when the festival will be Aug. 23-25.

Ticket sales eclipsed last year’s totals, and generous local corporate and individual sponsors covered all festival costs. As a result, proceeds will support Friends mentoring programs, covering costs associated with screening, training, matching and supporting volunteers and children in the Walla Walla Valley.

Friends typically has 130 matches – a match is one adult and one child – and has served more than 650 matches in its 13-year history.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at or afternoons at 526-8313.


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