Tag Archives: Temple Israel

Meet the Maloleys

June 6, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

A variety of sounds greet one at the front door of the Maloleys’ home. The sounds of a piano, at least one violin, and a cello come from different areas of their 1950s home. Something else sounds like a complete symphony.

l-r, Caroline, Jacob, Meredith, Zachary, Clara, and Sam Maloley

l-r, Caroline, Jacob, Meredith, Zachary, Clara, and Sam Maloley

“Oh, that’s a CD,” Julie Maloley says with a slight wave of her hand like it’s no big deal.

It’s a bit of a cacophony…but only a little bit. It is, however, everyday life for Maloley and her children. They all play the violin and the piano.  Sons Sam, 14, and Jacob, 8, play the cello.

Caroline, 13, practices the piano daily for approximately 30 minutes after breakfast, then moves to her violin. Sam practices cello after breakfast, then moves to the piano. Meredith, 17, practices the violin after she attends a math class at Millard North first thing in the morning.

For now, she’s the only one attending class in a traditional school building. Sam wants to play baseball in high school, so along with violin, piano, and cello, he plays on a select baseball team. And yes, he also studies.

Julie home-schools her kids using a curriculum called Mother of Divine Grace. The Catholic-based curriculum emphasizes liberal arts. Youngest daughter Clara comes in from the main room to the library, with its built-in bookcases packed with tomes on subjects ranging from literature to music theory to biblical studies, and plunks down at the table with a handwriting book and a pencil.

“It’s distracting out there,” she announces, proceeding to perfectly copy pages of cursive letters—mimicking skills learned in earlier decades.

Indeed. Youngest son Zachary, who turns 7 on June 2, practices piano with Caroline’s aid. Jacob stands around anxiously waiting with his cello.

“Jacob! Just wait!” Julie calls out as she hears a low note from the string instrument combined with the sounds of the piano. “Sam will be done soon.”

As Sam comes up from the basement, Zachary heads down.

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The chaos actually benefits the kids. They study under the Suzuki method, a theory of musical study started in the 20th Cenutry by Shin’ichi Suzuki. Central in this philosophy is that all people can (and will) learn from their environment.

The family’s affair with music began when oldest Madeline, 20, was 3. Julie’s nieces and nephews played instruments, so Julie and husband

Skip began violin lessons for their daughter.  The next year Madeline began playing piano.

“It kind of snowballed one right after the other,” Julie claims.

Madeline now studies at the University of Nebraska at Kearney on a violin scholarship.

They aren’t always this anxious to practice. Today (April 13) is Clara’s 11th birthday, and they are all practicing willingly, because they are going to the zoo for her special day. Mom told them they need to finish practicing and schoolwork before they can leave.

Besides, a big event is about to happen. The beautiful, yet disjointed sounds of cello and violin heard in the Maloleys’ home are brought together along with violas and a stand-up bass that Friday night at the Omaha Conservatory of Music’s opening night gala. Guests sit in the new concert hall that once housed the sanctuary of Temple Israel, listening to the sounds of the Beatles performed by 30 young strings players. Five of those players hold the last name Maloley.

The group performing such well-known pop tunes as “Let it Be” is Frontier Strings, an ensemble at the Omaha Conservatory of Music.

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Aside from performing with the strings group, Meredith takes violin lessons from executive director Ruth Meints. She plays at Hospice House on Wednesday nights, (per mom’s orders) and teaches music to 16 students, who troop through the house one right after another each weekend. Her ultimate goal is to become a music teacher.

Sitting in the audience, often, is their father. Skip is the lead database administrator for Green Plains and owns Pacific Solutions Inc.

“Dad enjoys watching the kids. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” Julie says of both homeschooling and allowing the kids to participate in multiple music lessons.

Julie herself doesn’t claim to be a musician, but is able to play piano and violin. She often practices with the kids, and sits in on lessons. One of the cores of the Suzuki method is that the parent be able to supervise instrument practice, and take notes at lessons in order to coach the children effectively.

She has coached them well. The perfect sounds of Bach’s Gavat come from Clara and Caroline’s violins, along with several other youngsters, as guests stroll through the executive suite at the conservatory’s gala. The Maloleys, along with all the children, are poised, eager, and happy to perform.

“It’s not that I think they will be Juilliard musicians, but it’s something they can do for the rest of their lives.”

The Divine She.la

May 10, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“I’m divinely happy where I am,” She.la owner Sheila Christ says of her store’s new location. In fact, you could almost say her choice of location for her women’s and children’s apparel business, in the Sterling Ridge development near 132nd and Pacific streets, was “divinely” inspired; Christ was attending a memorial service at nearby Temple Israel when she was struck with the realization that she had finally found the perfect site—after a year of searching—for relocation.

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“I looked around and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, the light out here is magical,’” she says. “It turned out to be a beautiful fit for us. We knew our lease was up and we had been looking at all kinds of options including the purchase of our own building, and we just couldn’t find the right size and the right corridor of the city…long story short, I come out here after looking and looking and looking and struck a deal with the Lockwood Development people within about 36 hours. It was very quick.”

So, in November, after 18 years (and two remodels) at Countryside Village, She.la moved three-and-a-half miles directly west into its new 4,000-plus square-feet location. Excited to have the opportunity to start with a vanilla shell for the first time, Christ worked with Eddy Santamaria of Contrivium Design + Urbanism to design the new space. Santamaria, who Christ calls a “visionary,” had served as Christ’s architect for several residential projects and the last remodel for the former She.la.

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“He ‘gets’ us,” Christ says. “His architectural eye will weigh in and make you think outside of what (you think) is possible…If the architecture will allow for it and the pocketbook will afford it, anything is possible.”

The former location encompassed two floors, and Christ says having all operations on one level ensures all employees feel connected. The new She.la also boasts a flexible space including a kitchenette, which was first put to the test with a successful trunk show in January. And the sky’s the limit for potential events; Christ is considering everything from wine tastings to meditation seminars to hands-on art demonstrations for children.

“It’s a space that allows for complete intimacy but you’re able to have a connected event happening,” Christ says.

Moving after 18 years was an inspiration to streamline, Christ says, and the new store has an upscale, spacious feel. It retains, however, some longstanding features familiar to established patrons, including its signature shade of orange. A careful selection of lighting elements and major fixtures were transferred or replicated. New décor was incorporated, including creations by local Hot Shops artisans like fabric art from Kris Khan, metalworks from Chris Kemp and glass art by Valerie Spellman Batt. With both northern and southern exposure, the space is filled with natural light that showcases both environment and merchandise.

“It’s high-style but it has warmth. That was important to me,” Christ said. “And it’s an absolutely unbelievable space to work in.”

It sounds magical.

Visit shopshela.com for more information.

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Omaha’s Lost Religious Buildings

March 17, 2016 by

Despite Omaha’s deserved early reputation as a city of crime and vice, it was also a city with a thriving religious community. Or, more properly, a variety of religious communities, as Omaha has always been home to practitioners of many faiths.

We can go all the way back to 1854 to find the first sermon preached in Omaha, predating the building of churches: It was a quarry owner named Peter Cooper, a Methodist who gathered fellow Methodists from Council Bluffs for services. In pioneer days, small towns and new cities often didn’t have permanent clergy, and the Methodist and Episcopal churches responded by sending out itinerant ministers, often meeting in private houses. This practice was called “circuit riding,” and circuit riders added Omaha to their routes within six months of Cooper’s sermon.

Here is a look at some of Omaha’s past churches and other places of religious worship. Some have closed, while others have been repurposed.

Emmanuel Lutheran Church:

Possibly the first Lutheran congregation west of the Missouri, Emanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church was built in 1858. The church was built with generous donations and encouragement from a specific parishioner, Augustus Kountze, who was then starting to have success in the banking industry. The congregation lives on at 2650 Farnam St. in a new structure built in 1906, now called Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church.

St. Mary Eastern Orthodox Church:

Starting in the 1930s, Omaha became home to a large number of Syrian/Lebanese-American Christian Orthodox families. The congregation is an excellent example of a longstanding tradition in religion: Repurposing existing churches or temples. In 1957, the congregation of St. Mary purchased the former Lutheran Memorial Church and rectory on 52nd and Seward streets.
They used this for years, until the congregation outgrew the space, and then repurposed another church in 1977: Countryside Briardale United Church of Christ on Pacific Street. And, in fact, the location is occupied by another church previously used by another congregation: the Living Faith Assembly of God Church on Boyd Street, purchased in 1985.

St. Mary Catholic Church:

There was an attempt to build a Catholic church in Omaha in 1855, but the priest who instigated it, The Rev. William Emonds, was called away and the project was abandoned. In 1856, however, the church received a donation of two lots on Eighth and Howard streets, from the Nebraska and Iowa Ferry Co., and there they built a small church called St. Mary, largely with the support of Omaha’s Irish population. The church was converted into a parochial school when St. Philomena church was built in 1867, and served several additional purposes before being torn down around 1882.

Temple Israel:

While the congregation of Temple Israel now has a synagogue on Sterling Ridge Drive in Omaha, they built their first house of worship–and the first synagogue in Nebraska–back in 1871. The first location was at 23rd and Harney streets, and the congregation moved to a new location at 29th and Jackson  streets in 1908.

RECENT CHURCH AND SYNAGOGUE CLOSINGS in OMAHA

1. First Christian Church, Fremont

Founded 1890. Closed this year due to financial troubles.

2. Blessed Sacrament Church.

Founded 1919. Closed in 2014 to merge with St. Philip Neri Parish.

3. St. Patrick Church.

Founded 1883. Closed in 2014 to merge with St. Frances Cabrini Parish.

4. Temple Israel.

Founded 1871, built Cass Street location in 1951. Moved to new building in 2013; old building recently purchased by Omaha Conservatory of Music.

5. St. Richard Catholic Church.

Established 1961. Closed in 2009 due to decline in parishioners.

Editor’s Note: The original article did not identify the First Christian Church as being in Fremont. The First Christian Church in Omaha is a Mid-Century Modern building completed in 1963 and holds services to this day.

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The Best of All Worlds

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Let’s dispense with the references to a certain ’70s sitcom right off the bat. Yes, Jennifer and Bryan Yannone are the parents of a blended family of six kids. Yes, Bryan is project director for Lockwood Development and Bloomfield Custom Homes, a position with some surface similarities to the architecture job of his TV dad counterpart. And, yes, the Yannones are a telegenic couple with a warm, relaxed vibe.

But their new home, the first in Sterling Ridge at 132nd and Pacific in Omaha, represents more than just the union of two families. It is the convergence of several decidedly 21st-century ideas about diversity, work-life balance, smart-home technology, and the logistics of new urban planning in an already very established part of the city.Bryan-4_web

Sterling Ridge is a mixed-use development of commercial, residential, retail, and religious space. When completed, the 153-acre site will feature more than 700,000 square feet of office space, 30 high-end custom homes, 10 villas, retail, restaurants, an assisted living facility, a hotel, and the Tri-Faith Initiative: a collaboration of Temple Israel, The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, and The American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture.

The very location of the site signifies this spirit of inclusiveness. It was once home to the venerable Highland Country Club, established in 1924 as a club where Jewish members would be welcome. (Highland changed hands in the 1990s and the newly-named Ironwood shuttered and was sold to Lockwood Development at a bank auction in 2010.)Bryan-12_web

In a city that is constantly expanding to points west, north, and south, the central location also acts as an integration point for several parts of town.

This was especially important to the Yannones, who had children in two separate school districts. “There was nowhere in Midtown Omaha where you could build a new, custom home without having to knock down an existing home,” says Jennifer, a gifted and talented facilitator for Omaha Public Schools.

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As members of the community and because of their family association with the development company, the Yannones are particularly sensitive to the historical and civic importance of the property. “People were disappointed when Ironwood closed,” Jennifer acknowledges. “Lockwood wanted to make this development worth the sacrifice. For every tree they took down, they planted five more. They spared no expense to provide a community feel.”

Inside the seven-bedroom, 5,700-square-foot Yannone home, that communal sense is most keenly felt in the open kitchen, dining, and seating area that serves as the focal point of the family’s activities. “We spend most of our time between these three rooms,” says Jennifer of the multi-functional space which features clean lines and cool, neutral colors. “I wanted it to look contemporary, but still homey and livable.”

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The family worked with Lisa Shrager of LMK Concepts and Megan Bret of Exquisite Finishes on the home’s interiors. “The trick was making the home durable and low-maintenance without compromising style,” says Shrager. She achieved the family’s desired blend of a sleek look and a warm vibe by balancing hard, manmade surfaces like the kitchen backsplash comprised of multiple metals including stainless steel and bronze, with natural materials like stained rich oak wood on the cabinetry and granite countertops.

This harmony reverbates around the room: a mantle of 12×24-inch tile acts as a horizontal counterpoint to the strong vertical presence of the fireplace itself. This is geometrically echoed in light, linear tiling that serves as bridge between the three sections of the main family space and on the flooring and walls throughout the home.


The children picked their own colors, themes, and bedding for their rooms: a Husker motif for the youngest, Brayden Yannone (9); sports for the two middle boys, Baylen Yannone (11) and Drew Gibbons (12); music and guitar for the eldest boy, Luke Gibbons (14); and inspiring quotes for Jennifer’s daughter, Michaela Gibbons (17). Her older daughter, Jessica Gibbons (21), lives away at college but has claimed a room on the lower level for school breaks.

The Mediterranean-inspired exterior of the home, which also serves as a model for Bloomfield Custom Homes, was Bryan’s idea. Its sand-colored stucco and stone ediface, crowned by hipped roofs, envelops an open, road-facing courtyard and would not be out of place among the revival mansions of Pasadena. “I wanted a home that was a vacation.”

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Before they could kick back and enjoy, the family had to educate themselves about the various “smart” features of their home, most of which, including cameras, garage doors, lights, and music, can be operated from an iPad. “When you walk out the door, there’s an off button. You can shut off the whole house!” Jennifer says with glee. “Before we moved in, we had to take the kids around, ‘This is how you shut off the lights…’”

And while the Yannone-Gibbons clan is clearly having fun with the more dazzling features of their new stomping grounds (such as the time Michaela called Jennifer from downstairs to tell her it was too warm and Jennifer “fixed it” without leaving the comfort of her sofa), their parents are careful to keep them grounded.


“They all think we live in a mansion,” Jennifer laughs. “But we remind them that we’re blessed to have this. When school’s out, we do a lot of volunteering, like at the Open Door Mission.”

“With the house came new responsibilities,” says Bryan. “It’s a group effort to keep a house this size, but the children have become very efficient about it.”

It’s a synthesis formula that the businesses, other families, and spiritual communities of Sterling Ridge would do well to copy. As Jennifer puts it, “We all pitch in and take care of what we have.”

For more information on this unique mixed-use development, visit sterlingridge.com.