If you happened to notice a rabbi checking 11 miles worth of telephone poles around town in the wake of last week’s snowstorm, here’s what he was up to: Making sure that religiously observant New Haven Jews can stroll babies and carry prayer books when Sabbath rolls around.
Some of the “traditional” liturgical melodies Jews sing during synagogue services originated centuries ago. Others originated in our lifetimes — often thanks to one singer-songwriter named Debbie Friedman.
When 15 Jewish community centers across the country were evacuated this week due to phoned-in threats, Greater New Haven’s facility was spared — because it had already been evacuated a month earlier, during a four-alarm fire. The staff there was ready.
When Stacy Offner took over as rabbi of Temple Beth Tikvah on the Shoreline, she did so proudly identified as a lesbian. She could do so because of the women who broke the barrier a generation earlier—one of whom was Offner herself.
Sitting in a drafty, castle-like Presbyterian church on Easter Sunday with my partner’s family, I could feel anxiety bubbling up with each hymn I didn’t know. Around us, the white walls of his church stretched out toward the ceiling like long, sinister fingers. The organ struck a round note. A light wind pressed at the side door, rattling its heavy handles.
My God, the God I had grown up with as a Reform Jewish kid — who wasn’t a being at all, but a set of principles around social justice and tikkun olam — was nowhere to be found. And that scared me, because it meant that there wasn’t room for another faith in my life or the life of my potential children.