Cynthia Yoken, Rick Rosenfeld honored on Simhat Torah


NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – Tifereth Israel Synagogue of New Bedford, Mass., celebrated Simhat Torah on Sept. 27. Rabbi Raphael Kanter announced the theme for this year as “Insiders/Outsiders,” signifying the synagogue’s acceptance of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

Rick Rosenfeld was chosen as the Hatan Torah and represented the “Insider” because hee was brought up in the community and has been part of the synagogue with his family and extended family for many decades. Mr. Rosenfeld’s contributions to the synagogue include his annual assistance in building the sukkah, his ushering during the High Holy Days and his invaluable service ensuring that every funeral is done with care and respect for the family. His charity work was also recognized.

Cynthia Yoken was chosen as the Kallat B’reishit.  Rabbi Kanter said that Mrs. Yoken, born and raised in the Philadelphia area, represented the “Outsider” even though she has lived with her family in New Bedford for thirty-three years.  The rabbi spoke of her numerous achievements and accomplishments, in particular her role in conducting and transcribing many interviews for the Jewish Archives at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.   She also is Chairperson of the Holocaust Education and Memorial Committee and has planned the Yom Ha-Shoah observance in the city each year.

Mrs. Yoken and her husband, Dr. Mel Yoken, were commended for bringing so many luminaries into their home – “a veritable 18th-century salon” – and into the community for cultural events both at the synagogue and at the University. Rabbi Kanter also spoke of Cindy’s assistance in teaching Hebrew to, and mentoring, so many students and her work at the New Bedford Military Museum, which recognizes the contributions of the local community in liberating the concentration camps after World War II.
At the Kiddush that followed, Ellen Hull, Interim Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford said, “There are few facets of life that she has not touched.” Hull went on to say that Yoken’s passion for education was amazing, along with her passion for giving of herself.  Betty Matathia, a synagogue member, stated that Mrs. Yoken’s tirelessness in helping others could only be understood because “some people have more than twenty-four hours in a day” in order to accomplish so much.

Tifereth Israel Congregation ( is a Conservative synagogue in New Bedford, Mass.