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  • The Plum Street Temple, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Rabbi Splansky’s Ordination Class of 1998
  • Rabbi Splansky with Holy Blossom members (left to right) Michael Davis, Susie Davis, and David Dewitt at HUC-JIR Ordination, 2018

Celebrating 20 Years

It’s hard to believe twenty years have passed since I was ordained as a rabbi.  It’s hard to believe twenty years have passed since Rabbi Marmur and President Morris Cooper invited me to come to Holy Blossom Temple.  It’s hard to believe twenty years have passed since Adam and I packed up our newlywed life, immigrated to Canada, and moved into a duplex at Yonge and Lawrence.

Earlier this month, I had the great honour of returning to Cincinnati to give the Ordination Address for the new rabbis of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion.  I shouldn’t have been surprised by the emotion of the day.  I was met with a flood of memories of the classmates I miss and the faculty I admire.  Marching in the processional of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise’s Plum Street Temple, I was reminded of the roots of Reform Judaism.  Over my academic robe, I wore the tallit of my grandfather, Rabbi Ernst Lorge z”l.  He was ordained in that very sanctuary in 1942, when the world was coming undone.  I was reminded of his courage and his clarity.  Seeing the new ordinees, including our recent Summer Intern, Sam Kaye, I remembered the moment my own father gave me his blessing at the open ark on the day I was ordained.  I was reminded of his fifty years of scholarship and devotion, and all I’ve learned from his leading example.  I sat on the bima with Rabbi David Ellenson, who came to Holy Blossom to celebrate with us four years ago when I was installed as Senior Rabbi.  I got to visit with Rabbi Karen Thomashow, whom we all miss.  And by good luck, our congregants, Susie Davis, David Dewitt, and Michael Davis attended the Ordination Service, because a cousin was among the new rabbis.  Every stage of my life was represented in that moment.  No wonder I was filled with awe and gratitude.

When preparing my words for the shiny, new rabbis, I had a chance to reflect on what I’ve learned these twenty years.  I admitted to them that I feel I’m really just getting started.  The congregation laughed, but it wasn’t intended as a joke.  It’s the truth.  I do feel I’ve accumulated experiences and insights that are valuable and instructive.   It was a gift to be assigned the task of articulating them.  It was a gift to be asked to share them with the Ordination Class of 5778.  You can listen to the address here (1:15:10)  You’ll recognize many of its themes; I learned most of them from you.


To learn more about the four campuses of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, the jewels in the crown of the North American Reform Movement, please click here.

If you prefer to read the transcript of Rabbi Splansky’s Ordination Address, you can find it here.

To hear Rabbi Splansky’s sermon on Michael Chabon’s controversial address at HUC’s Los Angeles graduation, click here.

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  • Ruth Ellen Greenwood

    An inspiring and uplifting address, Yael, as always. Every time you speak, you increase my knowledge and understanding of Judaism. Thank you and yasher koach.

  • Annalee Schnurr

    Hi Yael,
    What a beautiful, inspiring address. Thank-you for sharing it with the congregation.
    Best Regards,

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