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Ta Shema: January 27, 2023

This is Our Year!

On January 14, we had our first ever Saturday morning Sisterhood Shabbat Service. Over 30 women and teens helped to lead us in prayer, word, chanting, and song. Every single role was filled by a woman, either leading for the first time or in a role they have done many times over. Subsequently, I have had a number of women approach me to learn about how to participate in the event next year or to attain an adult Bat Mitzvah. I am not just proud of these women and teens–I am in awe. 

When I see Jewish women take hold of their Judaism, especially for the first time, my heart always aches a little as I recall memories of my Bubba, Miriam, of blessed memory. She did not have the same opportunities that I did growing up, yet she was the strongest advocate when it came to my secular and Jewish education. While she never had the opportunity to go to college, she was the one who took me to the library weekly as a young girl, helped me get my first library card, and introduced me to books that were above my reading level, always pushing me to learn and grow.

She took me to Shabbat services and sat with me in the back row, her weekly seat, and wouldn’t let me leave until after she had schmoozed with everyone at Kiddush. She was active in Sisterhood as well as any Jewish organization that would allow her to serve. When the synagogue she helped to found finally allowed women to have full participation, she had an adult Bat Mitzvah at the age of 47.

She died far too young and never saw her granddaughter go to rabbinical school; something I am sure would have made her overjoyed. Today there are many young men and women who are growing up in a world where everyone in the pew has an equal opportunity to be on the Bima. My daughter’s Hebrew School class might one day ask me the question I have been asked before by preschool aged kids, “Rabbi Bender, can men be rabbis, too”?

This is our year! This year, let’s appreciate our roots, celebrate who we are, and challenge ourselves to keep moving forward. The inaugural annual Saturday Morning Sisterhood Shabbat Service is just one of the ways we are marking the 125th year of our synagogue’s history. Please reach out to Amy or myself if you would like to be a part of the 125th Year Celebration Planning Committee. I cannot wait to continue to celebrate with y’all.



Rabbi Chaya Bender

Sun, March 3 2024 23 Adar I 5784