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Rabbi's Week In Review - 10/4/2021

10/04/2021 03:44:25 PM


This past Shabbos, attendance for both the Erev Shabbat/Friday-night service and the Saturday-morning study was, in a word, paltry. Understand that I am in no way angry or disappointed. I absolutely understand the feeling of worship fatigue that follows a slew of holidays from Rosh Hashanah through Simchat Torah, celebrated this past week.

I bring it up to say I am feeling a bit fatigued myself. I have not lost my desire to pray (sort of an occupational hazard for me), but the planning, work and, yes, stress that go into creating a meaningful worship or study experience always leave me wanting a little downtime this time of year. As we say, Kol v’Homer — so much the more so in the midst of a pandemic.  

This week, we will observe Rosh Chodesh for the new month of Cheshvan, referred to as Mar Cheshvan or bitter Cheshvan, as it is the one month on the Jewish calendar with no holiday celebrations other than Shabbat. For us rabbis, it is not so bitter and serves as a needed respite.

However, events over the weekend reminded me why we do what we do at Kol Ami (really reminded me who we are) and re-energized me for the work ahead. There was the Women’s March rally. As we gathered together at Mill Creek Park, I was gratified to see Kol Ami congregants also participating, and I was reminded that a central piece of who we are is to advocate for a more just world for the marginalized in our community and in our country.

On Saturday night, I officiated at a wedding in Lawrence, and Sunday at a bat mitzvah held at the Lakeside Nature Center. Both of these wonderful simchahs, joyous milestones, would be considered outside what may be considered traditional Jewish celebrations. The wedding was like no wedding I had ever previously officiated at or attended, for that matter — a costume wedding (including bride and groom); likewise, a bat mitzvah in which animals were featured participants.

Out of respect for people owning their own stories, I am not sharing the journeys the participants have taken to get to the chuppah or to become a bat mitzvah. Suffice it to say their journeys came with challenges and not what the unfortunately judgmental part of the Jewish world would consider normative.

That we can create a welcoming space for those who live outside the mainstream of the Jewish world is as important to who we are as a synagogue community as our work of fighting against injustice in the broader community, country and world. I came away from the weekend with a renewed resolve to act on my Yom Kippur promises, with purpose for what we do and what we stand for, and enormous gratification for the community in which I am privileged to serve as rabbi.

Fri, August 12 2022 15 Av 5782