Ordination – Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion 2012/5772
I must confess, I never blog. I sometimes go on Facebook, I listen to phone messages, I text, I do not tweet, and I am sometimes challenged to answer my e-mail on a timely basis. I work full time, have an elderly mother, a household to manage and although officially an empty nester, I do not always feel like one. Are there any of you who recognize yourselves? We are all busy women – yet I am rarely too busy to answer the WRJ call.
I had the privilege of answering that call in June when I represented all of us, all 65,000 Women of Reform Judaism, at the ordination of the Hebrew Union College Cincinnati campus rabbinical class of 2012. Ordination for the Cincinnati campus always takes place at the historic Plum Street Temple, built in 1865, part of the Isaac M. Wise Temple, my congregation.
Ordination is always a multi-layered experience for me. I have worshiped and celebrated at the Plum Street Temple for my children’s consecrations, their b’nai mitzvah, Sisterhood events, High Holiday and Shabbat services, and life cycle events of friends and family. I feel tremendous pride in sharing the beauty and history of Plum Street when the sanctuary is filled with parents, children, guests, members of the HUC Board of Governors, members of the HUC faculty and of course the ordinees – in my heart I welcome all to my congregational home.
As the representative of WRJ I sit on the bima with leaders of the Reform movement including Rabbi Richard Jacobs the President of the Union of Reform Judaism, Rabbi David Ellenson, President of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Gary Zola, Executive Director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives who is also actively assisting in planning the WRJ Centennial, Rabbi Jonathan Cohen the new Director of the Cincinnati Rabbinical School and Rabbi Lewis Kamrass, Senior Rabbi of Wise Temple. We are on the bima because of WRJ’s sustained support for the College – we are the largest continuous single donor to HUC. We are honored for our unfailing support for HUC; for rabbis and scholarship, for our belief in the future of our faith and the knowledge that congregations led by rabbis help ensure that future. This year, I sat next to Sally Preisand, celebrating 40 years since her ordination as the first female rabbi.
I had the honor of addressing the ordinees and bringing greetings from WRJ to the thirteen newly ordained rabbis – what a moment of joy for all of us. This ordination palpably captured the spirit of v’dor v’dor. I shared the pride of Rabbi Bradd Boxman, as he blessed his daughter Ariel Boxman as she was ordained. I kvelled with fellow congregants, Rabbi Sam Joseph and his wife Dorie, as Rabbi Joseph blessed his newly ordained daughter, Rachel. This moment was pure bliss, mingling parental pride, admiration for achievement and belief in the potential of a child. I read each autobiographical segment in the ordination pamphlet and knew that our future is in good hands. I was overcome with the promise of this class – in their belief in Jewish values enhanced by their confidence in their ability to build upon what has come before and grow a faith relevant and meaningful for the future. I felt pride in what WRJ does to assist in this meaningful task.
After the ceremony, I congratulated parents, family members, newly ordained rabbis and shared in the after glow of the event. I walked to the parking garage and saw Rabbi David Gerber. We chatted briefly, and I said “Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Gerber” and he replied, “You are the first person to call me Rabbi Gerber”. I felt his awe and humility for the significance of this title and the reality of who he now is to himself and others. Tears filled my eyes and my heart said – I know you will hear this many times, and then next year there will be more, and the year after that more. Because of our involvement and commitment we will survive and prosper as Jews into the next millennium.
Thank you all for allowing me to answer this call – because as always, I get more than I give whenever I participate in anything WRJ.