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Rabbi's Week In Review - 11/14/2022

11/14/2022 04:06:25 PM


I attended a shiva service this past week for Ruth Roth. She attended our High Holy Day services at Kol Ami but was not well-known in our community. I met Ruth through my time as a rabbinic intern at Ohev Sholom. She became interested in our shul after Ohev’s merger with Beth Shalom. I learned that she really enjoyed our service and was interested in joining Kol Ami.

I do not mention this to slip in an accolade for Kol Ami. For me, Ruth’s passing — coupled with the fact that I got to see her at Kol Ami through a set of arguably coincidental circumstances, and this week’s Torah portion describes the death of our matriarch, Sarah, and her burial — has me thinking about how we, as Jews, honor memory and come together as a community to support one another through our joys and sorrows.

The attendees at the shiva service were people I had met through my time at Ohev Sholom, people I had not seen in quite some time. Notwithstanding that Ohev is now subsumed by Beth Shalom, they still have a particularly strong connection to one another. I always admired their sense of commitment to their shul, to their Jewish community. It was a criterion I was looking for when I took the job here at Kol Ami. (In spite of a rather difficult and acrimonious first year here at Kol Ami, I could see underneath it all a sense of a caring community.)

I will miss Ruth and think her gentle, caring spirit would have added much to our Kol Ami family. Her death and my reconnection to the good folks who came out of Ohev Sholom reminded me why I wanted to be a rabbi in the first place, and why our kehilah, our Kol Ami Jewish community, is so important.  

However much we have become more individualized in how we seek out spiritual lives, it is still through our communal connection that we give our lives meaning and purpose. Whatever we read about the waning of religious connection, there is still a place, I believe, for a community like Kol Ami, a place where caring can take place and where we honor memory by living lives of concern for others — the strangers in our midst so that they are strangers no more.

Thu, February 29 2024 20 Adar I 5784