Village Temple Blogs

This is some blog description about this site

B’nei mitzvah and legacy….

June 22, 2015

This past Shabbat, with the Bat Mitzvah of Addie Rosenthal, this year’s crop of Village Temple b’nei mitzvah students has completed the journey to the bimah. Nothing provides greater pleasure to our community than to see these young people make this commitment to their families and to their heritage.  Week after week, we hear them apply their Torah portions to today’s world, finding ways to make these ancient stories relevant to their lives.

The effort this takes shouldn’t be underestimated. Each of these b’nei mitzvah students has to do something that would terrify many adults: stand up in front of a large group of people and present a series of complex prayers (in a foreign language); deliver a speech; and accept public proclamations about them from family and clergy. The preparation is long and often difficult, and competes with the demands of stressful school schedules. Meanwhile, all of this takes place during the psychologically fraught transition from childhood to adolescence.

The importance of this transmission of values has never seemed more important than this past week, when our nation once again experienced racial hatred expressed through murder.  The 21-year-old killer, Dylann Storm Roof, was described by Charles Blow in The New York Times as “a millennial race terrorist.” The columnist asked, “Who radicalized Roof? Who passed along the poison?”

The only antidote to that poison is to strengthen a legacy of social action, of belief in true equality and justice. Throughout the year we’ve listened to young people affirm these values. Our hope lies in them.

 

Share this article:

Continue reading
3016 Hits

Remembering the Shoah - and Why

On Sunday, April 19, The Village Temple commemorated the Holocaust by connecting the future with the past. Our Religious School students, led by Alex Tansky and Rabbi Koster, conducted a heartfelt and meaningful ceremony aimed at honoring those who died
by emphasizing the moral responsibility we carry to prevent cruelty and injustice. Anita Hollander’s achingly exquisite rendition of songs from the Holocaust revealed the poetry our predecessors were able to muster in the midst of horror. Following the ceremony,
Emily Hacker showed her sister Melissa’s beautiful documentary film My Knees were Jumping, about their mother Ruth Morley and others who were part of the Kindertransport. What courage it took for those parents to send their children into the unknown, so they could survive! Seeing these stories of children torn from family and home offered a powerful reminder of human resilience and the fortitude of hope. We may never be able to comprehend the evil that led to the Holocaust, but we were grateful to be inspired by children of this generation and those who came before.

Share this article:

Continue reading
3217 Hits
0 Comments

One Thing Leads to Another

For the past two years The Village Temple has joined with Judson Memorial Church to co-host the Greenwich Village Interfaith Thanksgiving. Through this wonderful event, Rabbi Koster became involved in the New Sanctuary Movement http://bit.ly/18XPr9p , an interfaith network of congregations and individuals working together to stop unjust deportations that separate families and ruin lives. This past Shabbat, our congregation had the privilege of hearing from Kamal Essaheb,http://1.usa.gov/1ztavhO an immigration policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center in Washington, D.C. who spoke eloquently about his personal history while offering specific ways individuals can help this important cause. 

Immigration reform is a subject close to our hearts at The Village Temple, with a rabbi from the Netherlands, a religious school educator from the former Soviet Union, and a cantorial soloist from Morocco. You probably don’t have to go back too many generations to find an immigrant connection in every Village Temple family.  As the child of immigrant parents, for me one of the most moving passages in the Torah was the admonition in Deuteronomy: “You shall love the stranger, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.” This spring, working with New Sanctuary, The Village Temple plans to put these words into action.

 

 

Share this article:

Continue reading
3693 Hits
0 Comments

Seeking the Light

On January 16, 2015, The Village Temple honored the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. by remembering our shared commitment to peace and justice for all. It was an evening of legacy.  Anita Hollander was joined in song by the children’s choir she guides so beautifully, as well as her daughter Holland Hamilton, whose marvelous voice often graces our services.  Anita also invited a special guest performer—the magical Rebecca Naomi Jones,  a rising star in the New York theater, whose mother Susan Rosenberg Jones is a former VT co-president and an accomplished photographer. The presence of these exquisite young performers was just another remember of the many gifts and talents our congregants bring to our community.

It was an evening to look inward and outward. The Village Temple continues to blossom. It’s been gratifying to watch the growth in attendance at services, thanks to the spiritual depth of our clergy and musicians, as well as the diversity and vibrancy of our programming.  Our office staff is doing an excellent job of keeping the machinery running.  We have committed volunteers, including our engaged and hardworking board of directors.

Still, our sweet and lovely MLK commemoration couldn’t entirely block out the barrage of hatred out in the larger world. Even as we enjoyed and appreciated the spirit within, we couldn’t ignore the murderous assaults in Paris. Less publicized here but no less vicious than the Parisian attacks, was an Al Queda car bombing in Yemen that killed 37 people. The victims included Jews, Christians, agnostics and Muslims.

 Our service was dedicated to respect for individuals and groups, at a moment when Muslim extremists have dominated the news.  Yet, as Times columnist Nicholas Kristof pointed out in a thoughtful column nyti.ms/155NaGC  we can’t fall prey to what he calls “religious profiling.” As a congregation, we are continually working to make The Village Temple live up to our aim of kesher, or connection, and to always seek the light of knowledge and tikkun olam.

As Dr. King said so eloquently: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 

Share this article:

Continue reading
3479 Hits

In Memoriam - Cantor Jenny Izenstark

jenny izenstark

On Friday, November7, 2014, with the untimely death of Cantor Jenny Izenstark, The Village Temple lost a dedicated teacher and a brave friend. She was fifty years old.

Born in Chicago, Cantor Jenny was a Fulbright Scholar and then an opera singer in Europe before she became a  graduate of Hebrew Union College and an ordained cantor. For the past twenty years she guided countless students through the process of becoming B’nei Mitzvah, including those with learning issues and challenges.

In the spring of 2013, at age 49, Cantor Jenny was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that she battled with courage and humor .“I pretty much have my mojo back,” Cantor Jenny told a reporter for the hospital newsletter during her stay at Columbia University’s Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center. “But it’s been quite a dramatic and humbling experience. Certainly I didn’t expect to almost die before I turned 50.”

Despite the physical toll the disease extracted from her, Cantor Jenny rallied to teach her students at The Village Temple and elsewhere,. Less than a week before her death she was working with young people,, determined to pass her knowledge to the next generation.

Her humble courage was inspiring. “Have you heard the saying, man plans and God laughs?” Cantor told the hospital reporter.”To me it means you just have to roll with it. Whatever life brings you, turn it into lemonade. I’ve always been good at doing this—but I didn’t know I’d have to be quite this good.

We are grateful for all she gave us. Her family has requested that memorial donations in her name be made to Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center, www.ndbc.cumc.columbia.edu.

Share this article:

Continue reading
5312 Hits
0 Comments