A year ago, we declared that we were embarking a year of kesher, or connection. Every week since then, we have been amazed and gratified at the breadth and depth of our small congregation’s talents and resources. Almost every weekend our programming has led us to think: We can’t match this—and then we are proven wrong again. This past weekend, beginning with Friday night services and continuing with our Yom HaShoah commemoration, was the most recent of those occasions.
The importance of legacy was the unstated theme throughout the weekend, where congregants ranging in age from 11 to 95 gathered for three powerhouse presentations.
At Friday night services, the congregation had the chance to connect Jewish values to two American traditions: the rights and demands of a free press, and the spiritual practices of Native Americans. Harry Rosenfeld, the Washington Post metro editor who oversaw the Watergate coverage in the 1970s, provided fascinating insights into the relationship between his personal history and professional path, which became the basis of his memoir, From Kristallnacht to Watergate. Mr. Rosenfeld was introduced by his daughter, Village Temple congregant Stefanie Rosenfeld and appreciated by all, including his lovely wife and grandchildren, who were also present.
Deborah Wolf, an integrative cognitive therapist and anthropologist, who has worked with indigenous healers and spiritual leaders for over twenty-five years, presented a remarkable and moving interpretation of Yedid Nefesh, that linked this ancient Jewish prayer with a Native American pipe ceremony. (While words can’t adequately convey the experience of watching Deborah perform the ceremony, her beautiful text is available under the Prayer Project link on The Village Temple website.)
On Sunday morning, with the guidance and wisdom of Rabbi Koster, Alex Tansky, Anita Hollander, and our religious school music leader Ty Citerman , members of the Village Temple Religious School led a reverent and meaningful Yom HaShoah service for the religious school students and our adult community, more than 100 participants in all—including one of The Village Temple’s most revered and longtime congregants, Harriet Zimmer, age 95.
They were joined by Lilly Salcman (mother of co-president Julie Salamon), who is, among many other things, a survivor of Auschwitz. In a living example of l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation, Lilly recalled her experiences and answered the sincere and probing questions provided by the religious school students. Inspiration overflowed in all directions.