Message from Our President

My parents grew up in Worcester, a mid-size city in central Massachusetts, about 40 miles from Boston. They weren’t born there: my mom was born in Providence, RI, where her parents were born, and to which her maternal and paternal grandparents had migrated from Eastern Europe in the late 19th century, and my dad was born in Nashua, NH, where his immigrant parents had ended up after journeys from was then Russia in the early 20th century.

They grew up on opposite sides of the city: Mom, the oldest of 4 daughters, lived on the west side, in a middle-class neighborhood, within walking distance of Temple Emanuel, the big Reform congregation in the city, where her parents were active members. Dad grew up on the east side, the eighth of ten children, surrounded by immigrant families like his. His family belonged to Shaarei Torah, the largest Orthodox congregation in the city and where his family, too, were active members.

Both Mom and Dad went to Classical High School, but their paths never crossed because of their age difference. As a teenager, Dad went to the Ivriah School, the community religious school for the Orthodox congregations. He even considered becoming a rabbi! But that was not to be. They met after World War II, while Dad was a student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and Mom, a graduate of the Beth Israel Hospital Nursing School in Boston, was employed as a registered nurse. It didn’t take them long to figure out that they wanted to get married, which happened in the late summer of 1947.

One of the discussions that I’m sure they had was what kind of Jewish household they would establish: Orthodox or Reform. After all, they had a mixed marriage! They concluded that the Reform Judaism was what worked best for them, and as soon as they were able, they joined a synagogue. Wherever they lived, my parents were synagogue members if there was a synagogue in the area, and we were there often. Even when we lived in places where there was no nearby organized Jewish community, my parents made a community by seeking out other Jews and joining with them for holidays.

Being part of a community is vital for the continuation of Jewish life. Even in the face of a pandemic that kept us physically apart, these past 2+ years showed that it was possible to bring people together in ways that kept everyone safe. Thankfully, it is now possible to gather safely, joining our fellow Rodef Sholom Temple members for a special dinner and program, or for religious school, or for morning minyan on Monday and Thursdays. It is indeed good to see in person many people that we only saw on Zoom for so long!

I hope that I will see many Rodef Sholom members and their families this year on the High Holy Days as well as for Sukkot and Simchat Torah. Our Rosh Hashanah oneg, with many homemade treats, returns, courtesy of Sisterhood. Break-the-Fast gives us all a chance to catch up with friends, while Sukkot on the patio, under the sukkah put up by our Men’s Club members and decorated by our families and students, will let us enjoy our beautiful outdoor surroundings. I look forward to a great 5783!

Tsvi joins me in wishing you and your loved ones a Shana Tova u’Metukah: a good and sweet year!

Martha B. Katz-Hyman