It’s been a hot and rainy summer for those us of who didn’t head for the hills of North Carolina or the cooler climes of New England, but staying home in St Augustine has had more than its share of rewards.

It was the summer of 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B Johnson and as we all know, St Augustine played a front and center role during that time.  Thanks to the efforts of the St Augustine Jewish Historical Society and their partners and the Justice Justice 1964 event, six of the sixteen Rabbis who had answered Dr Martin Luther King’s call to come to St Augustine to aid in the effort to eliminate segregation, returned this June to share their experiences.  The program included a reception at the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum where story teller and musician Rob Tobias performed and welcomed the guests.  A panel discussion with the Rabbis followed that evening and was moderated by Dr Paul Ortiz, Director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.

At the kind invitation of Warren Clark, I attended the Abarbanel Family Lunch held at the St Paul AME Church where Dr King had himself preached so many years ago.  My extreme good fortune was to find myself seated opposite Rabbi Israel Si Dresner where my table mates and I had a chance to get to know him.  The Rabbi jokingly said he was becoming forgetful and then took me on a trip of history and recollections that would put Wikipedia’s store of knowledge to shame.  We talked about Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, the history of politics in the United States (a topic where the Rabbi is an expert), how the minds of some politicians were slowly changed after 1964 and we lamented good people lost.  He made an indelible impression on me and left me inspired to do more, learn more and never forget.

Miss Cora Tyson prepared the lunch that had been a favorite of Dr King’s which was enjoyed by all and Rob Tobias led us in song accompanied by the St Paul AME’s summer camp singers.  Reverend Ron Rawls disclosed that it was Ms Tyson’s birthday and she was honored by a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday.  It was a very good day and the program continued into the evening.  Rabbi Dresner, Rabbi Daniel Fogel, Rabbi Jerrold Goldstein, Rabbi Richard N Levy, Rabbi Allen Secher and Rabbi Hanan Sills and John T Johnson, aide to Dr King in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference spoke and were honored by the attendees and the evening ended with the combined choirs of St Paul AME and Temple Bet Yam.

If you didn’t get over to the Cathedral Basilica for the 8th annual St Augustine Music Festival, you are in luck.  This year all of the concerts were recorded and you can enjoy every note in the comfort of your favorite chair and once you discover what you have missed, you can save the dates for the 9th SAMF in 2015.  The Cathedral has incredible acoustics and you have the beauty of the space for the eyes and the glory of the music for the ears.  Visit to hear the concerts and learn more about this volunteer organization and these free (yes, free) concerts.  This is a remarkable gift to our community and one not to be missed.

Happy 50th anniversary to Herbie Wiles Insurance and to Herbie, Doug and all of the associates of this agency.  Three generations of the Wiles family have made their mark in this industry and in a time of rampant mergers and acquisitions, it’s nice to see an independent firm stand proud.

Many thanks for Antje and Mike Hesson who for 30 years have operated The Cheese Wheel where you have to arrive super early in the hopes of getting a chicken salad sandwich what the long line!  The Hessons are retiring and turning the reins over to long-time patron Casey Carcaba who will open in a new location on South Dixie Highway.  Best of luck to all!

Printed in the Old City Life Magazine
August 2014

Irene Arriola Real Estate, Inc.
81 King Street, Suite B Saint Augustine, FL 32084
Email: [email protected] | Office phone: 904.829.2002
Cell phone: 904.669.0691 | Fax: 904.829.2029