We are building our family, with the addition of another outstanding clergy member, Rabbi Juliana S. Karol. As our rabbinic intern for three years, Juliana displayed impressive skills as a teacher, speaker, and communicator. We are excited about the important new initiatives Rabbi Karol is spearheading, including those around end-of-life conversations.
We are building in our building. The fifth floor has been completely renovated to meet the growing needs of our congregation, with flexible worship and education spaces to house our much-admired and innovative Religious School. This floor will also be the center of a new initiative I am proud to announce: Sholom Sprouts, our new suite of programming especially for our very youngest community members and their parents and caregivers, including classes, worship experiences, holiday celebrations, and more. Renovations to our lobby to make it even warmer, brighter, and more secure than it is now will begin later this fall.
Building on the successes of last year’s initiatives, we will host an impressive array of spiritual, educational, social justice, and community-based initiatives. The extremely popular Minyan offers many ways to explore new ideas and forge new friendships. Music, always a centerpiece of our synagogue, will be celebrated through our Fall Shabbaton with talented composer and singer Elana Arian, and through a performance of Stars of David featuring our wonderful Cantors Rebecca Garfein and Shayna De Lowe.
A building, or a community, is only as strong as its foundation, and our community’s commitment to social justice has always been strong. This year’s Mitzvah Weekend focuses on the critical issue of food insecurity in our community, an area where our congregation works to make a difference through our Backpack Buddies program and our annual food drive. In addition, we are proud, humbled, and delighted to be able to honor last year’s historic commitment with HIAS and Temple Emanu-El to resettle a refugee family here in New York.
We recognize that our members come from many different backgrounds and we want everyone to feel comfortable here. This year we are launching classes especially for those who are not as familiar with Hebrew or our traditions and prayers. Come and build your knowledge and comfort in the synagogue.
Look carefully through this book. Increase your involvement in Congregation Rodeph Sholom, and by so doing you will deepen your spiritual, educational, and communal ties to our remarkable congregation.
Rabbi Robert N. Levine, D.D.