Keter shem tov means “crown of a good name.” Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai said: “There are three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of royalty, but the crown of a good name is above them all.” (Pirkei Avot 4:13) Please join us on Saturday, April 21, as we honor Angie and Moshe (Joe) Carmel with the Keter Shem Tov Award. It is fitting that we honor them with this special award because the Carmel good name is closely linked with Mishkan Torah. 

Angela (Angie) Carmel was born in Derby, England. As a child, she was active in dancing and singing—skills she would later bring to Mishkan Torah. In 1968, she immigrated to the United States and planned to stay in Washington, D.C. only temporarily before moving to California. But on the evening after her arrival, she met “a really nice young man" who introduced himself as Joe Carmel. They had their first date three weeks later and Angie knew immediately that this was the man she would marry.  Moshe (Joe) Carmel was born in Israel as Moshe Josef Weinberger. After 1948, Israeli citizens could change their names to their Hebrew versions and Joe eventually changed his last name to Carmel. After coming to the United States in 1961, he realized that no one could pronounce Moshe so he agreed that they could call him Joe. And that’s how we knew him at Mishkan Torah.

So Angie from England meets Joe from Israel outside a temporary rooming house in Washington, D.C. It was beshert. They married in December 1969. After their daughter Leah was born in 1971, Angie began to think more about religion. In England, Angie had only attended church on weddings, christenings, and the occasional funeral. Now she decided to learn more about Judaism. After attending some classes at Adas Israel, she contacted Rabbi Weisenberg and began attending Friday night services at Mishkan Torah. In May 1973, Angie and Leah went through the conversion ceremony. (Angie reports that Leah had fun being dunked in the mikvah.) Angie and Joe celebrated their Jewish wedding that August at Mishkan Torah.   

Although Mishkan Torah did not have a rabbi the first year the Carmel family were members, the entire congregation pulled together as a strong community. That appealed greatly to Angie and Joe and they quickly became active in the synagogue. Angie attended her first Sisterhood meeting and immediately became Sisterhood’s Recording Secretary, a position she subsequently held for seven years. She later served as Catering Coordinator for about a year and served on the Children’s Ed Committee. Angie also performed in a number of musical events, singing a variety of music, including Israeli and Broadway songs.   

After Mishkan Torah members learned that Joe was a licensed electrician, he was in constant demand to work on something in the building. He also taught some of the young men about electrical matters, holding informal “classes” on many occasions. Joe served as Building Chair for a while but, even without the title, he was always hard at work somewhere in the synagogue or school. Members today still reminisce about his solution to the problem of raising and attaching the 800-pound Ark to the bima wall. A great deal of hard work, lifting, grunting, and furniture moving were involved in that endeavor!      

The Carmel family had truly become part of the Mishkan Torah “family.” Leah Carmel actually called Mishkan Torah “our simigod” before she could pronounce the words correctly. And Dana Carmel, Joe’s daughter from his first marriage, enjoyed coming to Mishkan Torah whenever she could.  The Mishkan Torah community, in turn, supported the Carmel family. During Joe’s illness and subsequent death in 1987, synagogue members were there for the entire Carmel family. Angie has said that it was during that time that “we learned what it meant to be part of the wonderful Mishkan Torah community.”   


Since that time, Angie has continued to be active at Mishkan Torah. She served as Sisterhood President for three years and also was synagogue Recording Secretary for a while. She has been an active member of the Ways and Means Committee for several years and currently serves as the committee’s chair. Jeff Rosen, a member of the committee, has described Angie as “the glue that holds the Ways and Means Committee together.” Committee meetings certainly sound interesting.  According to Jeff, Angie “presides over a group of sometimes unruly, colorful personalities during meetings that without Angie could descend into chaos.She is aided in her endeavors by Lord Nelson, a gavel aptly named after the archetype British hero, the victor of Trafalgar. The two are a formidable pair!” Those of us lucky enough to attend the many exciting events that the Committee has produced thank Angie (and her gavel) for bringing us to such heights. 

It is not the place that honors the people, but the people that honor the place. Through their work and support,the Carmel family have done so much to honor Mishkan Torah.  

While, unfortunately, Joe is no longer with us, his good deeds and spirit remain. Let’s show Angie, Leah, and Dana how much Angie and Joe have meant to us. The service will be beautiful. Sisterhood will provide delicious catering. Make your reservations early. In addition, if you have a story about the Carmels that you would like to share with us in the program book, please send it to Arlene Gottlieb at April 21 will be a very special Shabbat.