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Many Ways to Worship, All of Them Welcome

At Suburban Temple Kol-Ami, we understand that for some people, worship means coming to temple for Friday night services. We also understand that people’s busy lives and diverse Jewish traditions make other types of worship a better fit. That’s why at ST-KA you can join us on Friday night or stream services from your home. Attend a special service for families with young kids or discuss Torah at our innovative lifelong learning program.

Torah Talk - Recent Thoughts from Our Clergy.

Receive A Blessing – Be A Blessing
Rabbi Shana Nyer, 1/30/20

This Shabbat in Parshat Bo we read the last three of the Ten Plagues, of Pharaoh finally relenting and agreeing to grant the Israelites their release, and of how they began their journey from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. This week I had the honor of presenting to the Israeli American Council, a leadership group of Israeli Americans, on Women in Leadership. I chose to teach about Rabbi Sally Priesand, the first American female rabbi, who happens to be from right here in Cleveland. In preparation for the class I read an interview with her from January of 2007, almost 35 years after her ordination. As always Rabbi Priesand was humble about her accomplishments.

When the interviewer asked her if she ever got up in the morning, looked in the mirror, and said to herself “Look what I did?!?”, she was quick to reply, “Nope.”
The interviewer then suggested that she should. She asked Rabbi Preisand to look out into the crowd and allow the audience filled with women rabbis who stood on her shoulders to be her mirror and to offer them and their daughters and daughter’s daughters a blessing. Here is the blessing she offered: Eternal God, Source of all goodness, the One who is Creator of us all, the One who creates through us and so makes us all creators too, help us to accept the many challenges that lie ahead, to move people forward, to know that no one ever really gets to go into the Promised Land but that we have an opportunity to move things forward for the benefit of all, and to know that our people have survived from generation to generation, to teach them, to inspire them, to guide them, to help them dream, to help them become all they are capable of becoming so that one day our daughters, our granddaughters, our great-granddaughters, and all our children will live in a better world than we live in now. Amen

I was born in 1974, 18 months after Rabbi Priesand was ordained. I have never lived in a world without rabbis who are women, and because of her and other first-generation women rabbis who struggled and battled, I never thought this door was closed to me and my path was fairly smooth. This is not to say that I have not had other struggles, not necessarily because of my gender, but because we all have times of our own personal Mitzrayim (Hebrew for Egypt, but literally means the narrow places. Rabbi Priesand so brilliantly teaches us that while me may never reach the Promised Land, we can still widen the path for those who follow.

Va-Eira Rabbi
Allison Vann, 1/23/20

I have always been a reader.

I loved Anne of Green Gables, a Wrinkle in Time and, yes, anything by Judy Blume.
I also fell for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, even though I was certainly an adult—I was already ordained! I loved the plot, the creativity, and especially the lessons they imparted. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the plot has thickened as the antagonist has, indeed, returned. He is so evil that many are afraid to use his name and refer to him as “He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named”, rather than his chosen name, Voldemort. About, this, Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts, the school of magic and wizardry, said to Harry: “Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”

Dumbledore is reminding Harry that names have a lot of power. When we name something, or, the opposite—are afraid to name it—we take, or give it power.

In this week’s Torah portion, Va-eira, a new name for God is revealed to Moses: the divine four-letter name Y-H-V-H to Moses. Up to this point, we’ve seen the name Elohim connected with Moses, which is associated with God’s attribute of justice. Y-H-V-H represents God’s attribute of mercy. YHVH is the name which we do not actually know how to pronounce, which is why when we read it, we pronounce it “Adonai”. This four-letter name is related to the future tense of the Hebrew verb “to be”. In direct contrast to the idolatrous societies of ancient Egypt and Canaan, the God of the Israelites is not a physical thing–a noun–but rather a verb. YHVH is a becoming, an evolving potential.

I believe it is important to use the name(s) we’ve been given for God—such as YHVH, or Elohim, or Eloheinu. Doing this connects us to the evolving potential of God and can deepen our spirituality.


Eternal Responsibility. Beautiful Moment.

Rabbi Moishe Druin from Sofer on Site was at Suburban Temple-Kol Ami late in 2019 repairing all four of our Torahs. Click on the image to see a video from his visit:

Sun, January 17 2021 4 Sh'vat 5781