19 Nisan 5769
Today is the fourth day of the Omer.
It is a tradition to count the days between Passover and Shavuot, as we mark our freedom from slavery and celebrate our freedom to accept Torah. This is called "counting the omer." This year we will observe the tradition of "counting the omer" by sharing stories about the many different ways that we have been turned on to Jewish learning, and through Jewish learning to Torah.
When I came through the doors of Temple Emanuel 2 years ago, I wasn't able to read Hebrew. I did read it when I was younger, but after being away from it for so long, I had fallen into the safety net of the world of "transliteration." It was ok at first, but after attending Shabbat Services almost every Friday, and attending Minyan every week, I started to realize that it was time to me to take the plunge and learn Hebrew all over again.
After attending my first High Holy Day Services at TEBH in 2007, I learned that Rabbi Aaron was going to teach a class in Hebrew. I was excited, but also hesitant about whether or not I would be able to actually learn all over again. I never dreamed that I would actually look forward to going to class every week at 8:15 a.m. but with Rabbi Aaron at the helm, it has been very special. I have not only been learning the words but also the true meaning of each word, and discussing prayers and Torah and history of Judaism.
Now when I am in services I can actually follow along and not look at the transliteration, but even more exciting is that in the last few months I have been able to actually follow the Torah Readings, and today I picked a day when I will be called up to the Torah to read.
I am very happy and I'm always telling some of my friends that have been attached to transliteration that they should take a class in Hebrew, and that the world is different once you understand and are able to read the words with conviction.
by Jerry Silver
These stories are brought to you by the Temple Emanuel RE-IMAGINE project, an 18-month initiative sponsored by Hebrew Union College, devoted to re-thinking and re-structuring our religious school.