May 2018 Newsletter Article
Harvest! Revelation! Celebration! These are spiritual themes of synagogue life, particularly during the springtime in the days surrounding Shavuot. Fifty days after Pesach, Shavuot is the holiday that marks Matan HaTorah, the Giving of Torah, as well as being the festival of first fruits and fully ripened grain.
From a spiritual perspective, I think it is very meaningful to think of our synagogue’s “crop” as our students; together in a partnership between our families and school, we plant the seeds of Torah, identity and joy. Each and every day that we teach our children about their religious, cultural and ethical heritage, we are planting seeds, raising up and nurturing the Jews of the future. This is holy work and truly worthy of celebration and affirmation.
It is in this spirit, that I hope you will join us in May and June for many significant celebrations and life-cycle events. Each of these services will lift up the members of our congregation and affirm to them how important their achievements are and how much their participation in the life of our community matters. When I ask our B’nai Mitzvah students what is important to them about becoming adult Jews, they often immediately say that they will now be counted in a minyan; that they COUNT! I would say that this is a message to all of our members at Congregation Shalom. Even though we may not know a Bar or Bat Mitzvah or have a child who is graduating or becoming Confirmed, we have a responsibility to let them know that we think THEY count and that we honor their commitment to Judaism; that we value them as links in the chain of Jewish peoplehood. I hope you will come and “count” and let these young people know that we are witnesses to their Jewish life passages.
It is in this same spirit that I would like to invite you to a special service to honor our education director, Yael Hurwitz-Lange, as we say “L’hitraot – We will see you again..” on Friday night June 1st. “Z’man Matan HaTorah – the Giving of Torah” is written in a form that conveys that Revelation is on-going and continual. The experience of Sinai, is not an isolated event in time when our ancestors stood at the mountain. This is a perfect image for us to think about as we honor Giveret Yael. Over her years as Education Director, she has passionately worked to create moments of connection for our children with Torah, Judaism and Spiritual values. In doing so, she has helped to create a learning environment where a strong connection between our children and God and our children and Torah has been forged. More details about the service and pot-luck dinner will follow in the days ahead, but we wanted to be sure that people had the chance to hold the date.
Although you will be able to see the details of these dates on our calendar, I wanted to honor these B’nai Mitzvah students who will be leading services this spring….. Evan Skolnick, Emily Ebersman, Kenedi Silton, Rylan Chandler, Maggie Lischer, Melissa Miller and David Shuldiner. I also want to say Mazal Tov to Noah Ablove, Hannah Wolman and Aliah Katz who have already become B’nai Mitzvah. In the Fall we look forward to the second half of our Kitah Hey’s B’nai Mitzvah celebrations: William Eskenas, Claire DiGiovanni, Breanna Cohen, Josalyn Newell, Nonnie Shannon, Nick Leonard, Dean Linden and Sidney Scwartz. On May 18th, we will be celebrating these Confirmands: Caitlin Curry, Charlotte DiGiovanni, Sophie Eskenas, Jordan Galvin, Denis Maguire, Maura Maguire and Nathan Morrissey. On June 8th we will be honoring our Chai School graduates: Rachel Landress, Justin Mayer, Abigail Morrissey, Ben Smith and Josh Waxman. Again, I hope you will join us for these moments when the fruits of our students achievements and commitment to Jewish life are marked.
Rabbi Shoshana M. Perry