Some 18 months of work went into creating how we would celebrate a milestone anniversary. This was the night that started it all. The Kick-off Shabbat committee ordered special penlights, special kippot with our 175th anniversary logo inside, and decorated the Schafler with gold balloons. At the Erev Shabbat service, Rabbi Levine spoke of our great legacy–that meeting that took place on October 16th, 1842, with 80 German Jews who decided to establish a shul and set an agenda that has been handed down to us unchanged—to worship, to help, to educate. Meanwhile, so much else has changed—we transitioned from Orthodox to Reform, moved three times, started the first Jewish Reform day school in the United States, and welcomed women into the ranks of clergy. And we are still evolving our worship, service to the community, and education. We are creating more opportunities for small group spiritual experiences, have opened our doors to the homeless, and have sent our young people on a trip to the cradle of our existence in Berlin, Germany.
And so on this night, we embarked with prayer, joy—and the ever-present Rodeph Sholom hugs—on our 175th anniversary year celebration.