Happy Monday, Chevrei!
We are just about finished with the aseret yemei teshuva, the 10 Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. As we sing in services, "on Rosh Hashanah it is written, on Yom Kippur it will be inscribed." This is a time of year steeped in more Jewish observances than usual- 4 holy days (plus a fast day and regular Shabbat services) all within the space of a month. Here in the synagogue office, it is our busiest time of year.
On Rosh Hashanah II, I spent time with my family, and I was surprised to see Yahrzeit plaques when I walked into my mother's home. My great-grandparents, Esther and Joseph, had been affiliated with the oldest congregation on the Mississippi River in Quincy, Illinois. B'nai Shalom Temple closed earlier this year. A friend of my mother's traveled from Quincy to procure the plaques as the congregation was decommissioned, and brought them to her.
My Hebrew name is Esther; my brother's middle name is Joseph. Our great-grandparents' legacy has trickled down to us, nearly 45 years after their deaths. As you can see in the picture, they passed away a month apart; such was their devotion. As the only Jewish family in a small town in Missouri, my great-grandfather escaped from Tzarist Russia in 1914, and went from an existence as an itinerant scrap-metals merchant in 1921, to running a prolific auto parts business centered in Kirksville, Missouri. Grandpa Joe even became Mayor of Kirksville in 1960. Jewish life and education were important to my great-grandparents and grandparents; they brought in a HUC rabbinical student every year to conduct Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services, and to teach during the Days of Awe. My mother and aunt would receive an academic year's worth of Sunday school education in the space of those 10 days, sitting at Grandma Esther's kitchen table every day after school.
As Emanuel celebrates the advent of 5780 and our 140th anniversary, the weight of our history sits around our shoulders like a comforting, multicolored blanket. Between concluding our holy day observances with Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah, and participating in events such as Open House Chicago and A Storied Harvest, we have embarked upon new and exciting partnerships and programs to engage our community and beyond.
I look forward to welcoming you all to the above events, and to Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur this week. May you all be inscribed in the book of life. If there is anything I or the staff can do to make your fast easier or more comfortable, please let me know.
Director of Operations