Dear Friends,

This week’s Shabbat Message is a bit different than most. The reason for this, in part, is that I am not the author of it. More than that, it is because this Shabbat Message is more an invitation than anything else. You see, next Friday, May 5, Shabbat evening services will take place at 7:30pm in the Bass Sanctuary building. We will worship using Mishkan Tefillah, the prayerbook TSTI adopted more than a decade ago. The voices of our Cantors will lead the singing of songs and prayers. But throughout the service we will pause from our prayers and listen to our graduating High School seniors as they share some of their thoughts and insights. You should be there. You really should. Because, when one listens to these amazing young adults, one cannot help but be inspired and feel a deep sense of optimism for the future of Judaism and our world.

I spent some time this morning reading the speeches these high school seniors will be sharing with the community and was profoundly touched by so much of what they will be saying. Here is just a taste…

One writes, “This is what Hebrew High ultimately taught me. It taught me the value of coming together as one and flaunting what makes us Jewish, what makes us unique.”

Another graduate shares, “When I think of Hebrew High, I think of heated debate, lots of laughs, and tons of food. Tuesday after Tuesday, I was continuously impressed with the intelligence of my classmates. Every time I leave Hebrew High, I feel incredibly inspired and grateful to engage in such meaningful discussions with everyone.”

Another writes, “My peers in my high school were connected by mere location; however, my peers in TSTI have one obvious similarity: Judaism.” To this I would add the thoughts of a different graduate who writes, “It’s weird leaving a place that you have gone to nearly every week for roughly the past 16 years. Especially when you’ve only been alive for 18 years. Teachers and school principals try enforcing the belief that school is our second home. And while that can be said about many places, I can truly say that TSTI is a second home (no enforcement required).”

And another writes, “I feel holy – not just in a religious sense, but in the deep connections I made throughout my temple experience. The incredible communities I’ve had the chance to be a part of at temple make me feel holy. With every question raised, opinion spoken, event discussed, congressman lobbied, I feel even holier.”

One graduate offers, “I have come to truly LOVE Reform Judaism because of its flexibility in worship and interpretation.”

While another suggests, “…we should use our religion and tradition as a medium to spread a sense of community and acceptance.”

Finally, one upcoming graduate wrote, “…thank you to all the seniors sharing this special night with me. Whatever your plans are after high school, I will miss every single one of you, and will always remember the time and memories we spent together.”

How could you NOT want to come and wish these amazing teens well? I look forward to seeing you this evening for our Shabbat Scholar at 6pm and next Shabbat at 7:30pm when we celebrate our High School graduates.

Shabbat Shalom,


Friday, April 28
Shabbat services tonight begin at 6:00 PM in the Bass Sanctuary Building with Professor Paul Finkelman speaking on: “Louis D. Brandeis: Reformer, Zionist, Jurist, and Icon of American Jewish Culture”
Saturday, April 29:
Minyan service begins at 9:15 AM.
We will celebrate the B’nai Mitzvah of Ella Weisberger, daughter of Jennifer and Joel Weisberger; and Jack Maitlin, son of Kim and David Maitlin in the Bass Sanctuary Building at 10:15 AM.
We will celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of Matthew Iannone, son of Judy and Dominick Iannone, in the Gellis-Green Chapel at 10:30 AM.