Shabbat Shalom ~ Emor 2023

A grateful WJC family would like to express our appreciation for our Minyanaires, who have made our morning minyan services possible every day for months now. Join us at WJC for a special Shabbat Kiddish Saturday, May 6, to honor our Minyanaires and all those who answer the call—figuratively and literally! The Kiddish will follow Saturday morning services.

Dear WJC Family,

I hope you were able to experience some of the Scholar in Residence events last weekend. It was a very special weekend with Rabbi Ethan Tucker of Hadar as we explored the theme of Community and Connection through ancient texts and contemporary examples. I know that I was feeling the community and the connection. The events were well attended by a diverse group of people. I was thrilled to hear from some attendees that the session with Rabbi Tucker continued into further discussions at home and over dinner. Thank you to Fred Bennett and Carol Fasman, SIR Committee chairs, and the entire SIR committee for all the work done to make the event such a success.

I was particularly proud to note that by chance all of last week’s Torah reading and the haftarah were all chanted by women – Emma Moskowitz, Dina Nelson, Hazzan Ellen Miller Arad, and Linda Alpert. As our president Larry Thaler has noted, only at a Conservative synagogue would you have a traditional Torah reading and have it read by all women. Authentic Jewish practice and egalitarian values side by side? That’s a pretty special combination!

We also had Naomi Kotkin lead Anim Zmirot and to top it all off, Leela Mandel chanted the Ashrei beautifully – part of our program to get pre-bat/bar mitzvah age students involved in the service. She was awesome! If you have a child who might like to learn to lead a part of the service, let Aleza Kulp know.

As we do every year when we read this Torah portion, we read Leviticus 18:22, the verse that has often been interpreted as a prohibition against homosexuality and which has led to much emotional turmoil for and persecution of members of the LGBTQ+ community (not to mention those who suffered alone for centuries before there was even a right to form a community). We don’t skip verses in the Torah, but it is important to call this one out as an opportunity to do just the opposite of what some have used the verse for in the past – to tell the members of our WJC family and extended community that WJC not only accepts you, but loves and respects you, what ever your sexual preference or gender identity. We celebrate you exactly as God made you.

One challenge is that while the Stone Chumash (the blue one) that sits in the seatbacks of our sanctuary has many merits regarding translation and commentary, its translation and commentary regarding Leviticus 18:22 are about as egregious as can be, enough to be disqualifying as our normative Chumash. It is one of the reasons that, after careful consideration by the Spiritual Life Committee, this summer we will be placing that book as an alternative option in the back of the sanctuary and filling our seatbacks with the Conservative Movements Etz Hayim Chumash. The Etz Hayim points out right on the page with the verse that the Conservative Movement calls on congregations to welcome LGBTQ+ congregants, believes that rabbis should officiate at gay and lesbian weddings, and ordains LGBTQ+ clergy.

If you have questions about our policies regarding LGBTQ+ issues, please speak with any of the clergy. And if you or someone you love is grappling with their own identity, we are here to support you as well – please come see us.

We’ll see you in shul this Shabbat – Rabbi Dalton and Cantor Goldberg will be leading Simple & Soulful in the Activity Center at 10:15 on Saturday morning. I will be leading things in the sanctuary – my sermon will be about the hit show “Parade” which I saw this past Sunday (and I recommend you see it as soon as possible) and Antisemitism Then and Now. Special shout out to WJC members Ruth and Steve Hendel who are co-producers of the show. I will also be speaking on Friday night and teaching on Saturday evening.

See you in shul,


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