What Are We Doing Here? - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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What Are We Doing Here?

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Reflections by Galit Cohen Kedem, third-year student in the Israeli Rabbinic Program, on her Yom Kippur experience:


Teachers, Friends, Partners,

Well, Yom Kippur is past, and I feel a deep sense of gratitude to all those who contributed, supported, taught, and participated in the services that took place in Holon.

For me, personally, this was my first time leading this service in the role of "first fiddle."  In the context of the initiative "Yom Kippur for All" of the Israel Association of Community Centers and the Holon Leisure and Community Network, the city of Holon opened its gates to all kinds of minyanim in its community centers.  I was pleased that the P'sagot Center, where "our people" frequently give classes, provided a warm and enthusiastic venue for a service.

At Kol Nidre we had 120 worshippers; the next day at Minchah there were 50, but by the time we reached the Memorial Service the number had climbed back to over 120; the children's center was humming with activity, and the reactions were enthusiastic.

The gathering was festive and moving, the prayer simple and beautiful.  Throughout, I felt the weight of the responsibility of being the "shlichat tzibbur" – and I was thrilled that Nico [Sokolovsky – a second year student] was there to share the role with me – as well as his wife Noga whose beautiful voice added an important dimension to the experience.

It was clear to me that most of the participants had never experienced an accessible, egalitarian service – led by a woman, yet!  It was clear to me that for Rachel, who volunteered to take out the Torah at Minchah, this was the first time she had ever held a Torah – so, not surprisingly, she held it as if it were a babe in arms….  It was clear to me that it was not so easy for everyone.  There were moments when people connected more; there were moments of awkwardness and even alienation - even for me.  It was clear to me that not everyone who came will want to continue to participate in the activities of the new community.  But I have no doubt that from here we can only grow – our leadership, our community – and that we can serve as a serious and sustainable alternative for those who don’t yet feel at home in their Judaism….

To all my friends, teachers, and colleagues who encouraged and supported this effort, thank you!  May this be for us all an excellent year!

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu