Last week, synagogues across America marked the 100-year anniversary of the first official bat mitzvah. The ceremony occurred on March 18, 1922 and was created by Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, to welcome his12-year-old daughter, Ruth, into the family of Jewish adults. While that sounds like a long history, it pales alongside the roughly 1,000-year longevity of the bar mitzvah. Moreover, it took almost 60 years for the bat mitzvah ceremony to attain equal stature with the bar mitzvah at synagogues in the U.S.
To explore this evolution — and what it says about the role of women and girls in Judaism — assistant JLC education director Lily Lucey invited Shomrei women of several generations on Sunday, March 19 to recount for the b’nai mitzvah classes what the bat mitzvah represented when they were 12 or 13. Continue reading →
On Feb 26, 2022, my family hosted the kiddush for Brian’s 10th birthday party – first time double digits is an exciting chapter! The moment we entered synagogue, congregants wished Brian a happy birthday. Rabbinic Intern, Lily Lucy, welcomed us into the Hinei Ma Tov JLC event, by wishing Brian a good birthday and pointing out to the other students that the birthday table covers, balloons and food items were all set up so that the congregation could celebrate Brian entering his double-digit birthday. It made Brian feel so special.Continue reading →
Editor’s Note: Rabbinic Intern Lily Lucey originally gave this sermon during the outdoor service on Yom Kippur 5782 (Sept 2021).
“I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.” -Mary Oliver
By show of hands… Has anyone here ever done something wrong, messed up, or made a mistake?
Okay, so all of us. I mean, duh! Why would we even need an annual day of atonement if we never did anything wrong?
And yet, while we may know that we’re all bound to make mistakes, how many opportunities do we really give ourselves to show people our imperfections, or at least the parts about ourselves that we think are imperfections? And what happens when we do?Continue reading →
Editor’s Note: Rabbinic Intern Lily Lucey originally gave this sermon during the outdoor service on Kol Nidre 5782 (Sept 2021).
A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. You may ask, “Why do we stay up there if it’s so dangerous? Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: tradition!
Tevye captures something that is at the essence of Judaism and that is intensely heightened throughout our High Holiday liturgy: that we are always acknowledging the fragility of life, while continuing to find a way to live it, carrying with us the suffering not just of this moment but of all of our people before us and all of the generations to come. Continue reading →
Editor’s Note: Rabbinic Intern Lily Lucey originally gave this sermon during the outdoor service on the second day of Rosh Hashanah 5782 (Sept 2021).
“Neat how we ban plastic straws before assault rifles.” That was one of the popular Internet memes du jour at one point this year. “Neat how we ban plastic straws before assault rifles.”
In the unlikely event that you are unfamiliar, this controversy was popularized when the powers-that-be at Starbucks announced that the stores would be eliminating plastic straws altogether over the next couple of years. For environmental reasons. Several countries, as well as U.S. cities, and various companies have already made this move or have been wrestling with the idea. Plastic straws were an easy target for someone who cares about the environment. A tiny way to make a dent. Even young children have taken it upon themselves to convince people to give up straws as a small way to make a big impact. Continue reading →
Editor’s Note: Rabbinic Intern Lily Lucey originally gave this sermon during the outdoor service on the first day of Rosh Hashanah 5782 (Sept 2021).
My mom is amazing in a crisis. God forbid, but hurricane, death, a frightening diagnosis, she’s the person you turn to for the kindest words, for a source of comfort, and the person who can wisely advise because she’s definitely already obsessively done all of the practical research ahead of time, before the crisis ever happened. Or even to have cute little labels on each of the bathroom doors listing which of the many hurricane evacuees who have taken refuge in her home (including the pets) will be assigned to each windowless room if the windows are smashed in the storm. (True story.) Since she is highly empathetic and sensitive to the pain of others, I would never have described her affinity to take care of others in a crisis as something that she enjoyed per se… until I read the book A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit. The book was written pre-Covid-pandemic era (2009), but, aptly, as the 20th anniversary of 9/11 is upon us, she examines the human response to disaster. Solnit describes the shocking discovery that came from studying and observing peoples’ reactions to sudden disasters: that so many people communally experience something joy-like, not in the suffering itself of course, but in the sense of purpose and being present in the moment that comes from the way people come together in a sudden crisis. Continue reading →
One more thank you (an addition to the President’s Report in the 2021 Annual Meeting Package)
While there are so many to thank for everything and everyone that make Shomrei the amazing and vibrant community that we are, especially this past year when we had to constantly change the way we “attended” services and community events, inevitably there is an oversight. I want to take a few minutes to thank Lily Lucy, our rabbinic intern whom I somehow did not mention in my report.
Lily was key in creating our unique High Holiday experience last year and any time Rabbi Greenstein, Geoff Sadow or I tried to figure out how to bring the services to our Shomrei family, Lily was there with more creative ideas. She never said no when we asked her to do something and the outcome was always inspiring. As the rabbinic intern, Lily brought us together for Zoom Kabbalat Shabbat, invited our kids to participate in services, conducted themed Havdalah services and led us for Purim and many other holidays. She provided teaching to us in her By the Light of the Moon Rosh Chodesh discussions and her thoughtful approach and her lively singing makes me smile every time we are together.
This Passover will certainly be different from all other Passovers in recent memory! The Education Team at Shomrei put together a list of resources to help families create a meaningful holiday this year. Enjoy!
As you know, Rabbi Greenstein will be away from Shomrei from January 1st through May 31st of this upcoming year. He has been awarded the Daniel Jeremy Silver Fellowship at the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard University.
For much of this year, a Rabbi Sabbatical Committee, led by Shomrei members Geoff Sadow and Dan Winter, have been working to ensure that our congregation will operate smoothly during our rabbi’s absence. This includes the hiring of guest rabbis to join us for many Shabbatot and to provide rabbinic coverage. This also includes the scheduling of academic and musical scholars-in-residence who will bring to Shomrei some exciting programs.