February 4, 2012, members of the Central Area of our district, along with some district board members, experienced an amazing Shabbat morning service of song and prayer. Using the Shabbat service from the Mishkan Tifilah as the guide, participants were led in worship by artist and singer, Julie Silver, and two of the female rabbis who reside in the Columbus, Ohio area, Elka Abrahamson and Deborah Lefton,. The service was projected onto a screen at the front of the sanctuary so everyone’s hands were free to clap and/or play a musical instrument made available by the Wormen of Beth Shalom. The women sang and danced to the beautiful music provided by Julie and truly turned the sanctuary at Temple Israel into a palace for Shabbat.
During Shabbat Shira, so-named because the Parasha. B’shalach, includes the beautiful words of the Song at the Sea, women from each of the three Columbus sisterhoods chanted Torah and Haftorah. Aliyahs were offered to the sisterhood presidents from each congregation. Also participating in the service were past presidents of each of the sisterhoods and young women from the youth groups. A D’var Torah was offered by Rabbi Lefton and appeared in the previous edition of Isha L’isha.
The service took place on the first yartzeit of Debbie Friedman’s (z”l) death. Rabbi Abrahamson shared a story about Debbie from when she first began creating her music that truly changed the way we worship today. Elka was lucky enough to have known Debbie personally as they grew up in the same community in Minneapolis. Although the service lasted for over two hours, the beauty and spiritual feelings created kept everyone’s rapt attention and formed a cohesive group. When everyone adjourned for lunch afterwards, they sat with friends and new acquaintances. All tables had women from more than one sisterhood seated together.
Because Tu B’shvat occurred during the week following Shabbat Shira, each participant was asked to bring a dairy or parve dish to share containing one of the seven species of Israel: wheat, barley, pomegranates, olives, figs, dates, or grapes. Participants were also asked to bring the recipe for their fare. Copies of the recipes were scanned and sent to those women who requested them. They were also shared with the women at Congregation Darchei Noam, one of the Israeli sisterhoods twinned with the sisterhood from Temple Israel. Although the Central District board members planning the event, Hilda Glazer from Temple Beth Shalom, Rachel Lambermont from Congregation Beth Tikvah, and Bette Jo Stempel from Temple Israel, had no idea what to expect for lunch, the dishes ranged from salads to soup to desserts and even punch and all seven species were represented.
Shabbat Shira has new meaning for the sisterhood women fortunate enough to attend the area event. They were truly grateful for the opportunity provided by WRJ Central District. Consider hosting an area day for the sisterhood women in your area and make it a special day for all to remember.
Hilda Glazer, Rachel Lambermont and Bette Jo Stempel, co-chairs