Rabbi Yael Splansky
Every year, every rabbi asks her or himself, “What do I have to teach this year?” For me, it was obvious. I had learned something new that I thought was worth sharing. Usually new insights come from old books and current events, but this year it came from “flesh and blood” and the words of our High Holyday machzor. A sermon’s message must be universally applicable, challenging, comforting. But this year – out of character for me — it started with the personal. Our Director of Communications, Robert Carnevale, reports that 7,500 individual listeners have heard the sermon from the Second Day of Rosh HaShanah. Our Main Sanctuary holds 1,100 or so. There’s a lesson in this for me, though I’m not entirely sure yet what it is.
Congregants and strangers alike have told me they felt better understood and less alone in their own life struggles. I’m glad for that. This is what synagogue-community is for — tapping into the strength of our sacred texts and drawing upon the strength of one another. If not here, then where?
If you’d like to hear the sermon or pass the link onto someone who might benefit, you can find it here.
Now that Simchat Torah has brought our Tishrei holydays to completion, it’s time to look back on the season and express gratitude for all who devoted their time and talent.
On Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur alone we held a total of 32 services. Thousands of congregants graced our building. No one seemed to mind the areas marked “Under Construction.” In fact, I believe it added to the momentum of our Renewal of Spirit.”
We thank our Head Usher, Gerry Prendergast, together with Larry Babins, Abe Neufeld, and their corps of 64 ushers and greeters. We thank Jill Hertzman and her team of 20 Gabbaim. We thank 43 Temple Singers and 11 Shofar Blowers who rang in the New Year in joyous chorus. Special thanks to Michael Cole, Jeff Denaburg, David Gershon, Dr. David Greenberg, Suzanne Hersh, Jack Kugelmass, Mira Lyon, Mike Morgulis, Larry Schwartz, Cheryl Sylvester, and Mark Weinstock, fellow congregants who joined our Rabbis and Cantors on the bima to lead us all in prayer.
And 52 teens and adults brought honour to our sacred texts by chanting Torah and Haftarah on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. They are: Adam Steiner, Mike Morgulis, Miriam Heavenrich, Taiga Lipson, Ellie Davidson, Alberto Quiroz, Benji McLean, Will Klein, Julie Duckman, Sophie Sklar, Arly Abramson, Audrey Shiner, Jonathan Gordon-Chow, Raisa Berkowitz, Lindsay Lyon, Emily Weizel, Mark Goodman, Maddie Toker, Ari Burkes, Susan Baskin, Adam Sol, Jill Kamin, Eden Manly, Caroline Ingvaldsen, Isaac Quiroz, David Greenberg, Grace Valihora, Jordan Nisenbaum, Liam Vrooman, Avalon Nisenbaum, Michael Leese, Judy Malkin, Lisa Isen Baumal, David Friedland, Avishai Sol, Brian Lidsky, Aly Oaknine, Adrienne Klein, Mira Lyon, Beth Denaburg, Oona Nadler, Marc Levy, Sid Troister, Jane Herman, Brenda Saunders, Levi Cassidy, Cynthia Good, Suzanne Hersh, Gail Kerbel, Jill Hertzman, Ted Shafran, Paula Warren.
Three generations — Karen Abells together her daughter, Alana Steen and her mother, Mary Seldon, Warden of HBT – took the lead to ensure that our 3 bimas were beautiful and festive. Our Kid Mitzvah Club, Religious School students and teachers had fun decorating our new sukkah and tossing the schach to the rooftop.
Thanks, also, to Karen Abells, Lisa Rendely and our teen leaders for wrapping up the festival season with our Simchat Torah celebration. Our 38 Consecration Students, their parents and grandparents, and 77 Torah Carriers danced our 11 precious Torah Scrolls throughout the sanctuary for a total of 7 Hakafot. And Judy and David Gershon’s Klezmer band had us dancing the night away.
Our Maintenance Staff led by Jim Westcott and our Administrative Staff led by Shelly Berenbaum, together with our Executive Director, Russ Joseph, ensure all goes smoothly during this season.
Yes, these numbers are impressive, but we cannot quantify the impact these Holy Days has on our people. How many prayers were prayed, how many loved ones remembered, how many memories were made – these are what we are really after and these are beyond measure.