Alicia Lehrer – “Voices of Temple Emanu-El”

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Grateful to be in this Community

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By: Gina Gonsalves Gabai

I have had the pleasure of initially joining the temple nine years ago. It is a remarkable community led by an incredible staff, in particular Rabbi Franklin and Rabbi Babchuck.

As a Jew by choice looking to marry an orthodox Israeli, I needed a fit for both of us. I began my search having many encounters with various synagogues- some pleasant and some not so much. It was important to incorporate the strong religious and cultural values that my husband had grown up with, while also having the ability for myself to grasp what Judaism was really about. I feel that Temple Emanu-El accomplishes this.
In today’s world we all know what a struggle it is to keep priorities into perspective. We all need a constant, something that grounds us, a place to bring us “home”.

My first meeting with Rabbi Franklin was nothing short of phenomenal. He was so welcoming, kind, gentle, intelligent, and trusting. I felt like we had found our place; our home.

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting with Rabbi Babchuck to get more involved with the temple. He, too, is such an amazing, caring, clever, and sharp-witted individual. He has extraordinary energy and is such a compliment to both Rabbi Franklin and our community. I am truly grateful to have these two exceptional people guiding us. To me, they represent what leaders and faces of a religious communities should stand for. The community as a whole is something I am also grateful for and am proud to be a part of.

You Can Go Home

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by Susan Landau.

I’ve heard it said that you can’t go home again- everyone from Thomas Wolfe to Bon Jovi has contemplated that reality.  We think we can’t go home because we change, while home remains the same.  Old familiar places shine a spotlight on all the ways in which we ourselves are now different.

But I have found that when it comes to Temple Emanu-El, I can go home.  I grew up at Emanu-El, often spending multiple days a week in the building that was my home away from home.  And now that I’ve been away for college and rabbinical school, one might imagine that it would be hard to return.  But Emanu-El has grown alongside me.

When I came back to the Meeting House this past Rosh Hashanah, I was comforted by everything that was exactly as it’s always been.  Familiar melodies, warm hugs from the people who have known me my entire life, those musty purple folding chairs, the over-air-conditioned space urging congregants to put sweaters over their holiday best.  But there were new things as well- beautiful white covers for the Torah scrolls, a new machzor that is full of interesting tidbits, and a beautiful new voice leading us in song.

In these past few years Emanu-El has been finding a balance between old and new, and so have I.

I am the same Susan Landau who spent countless hours singing and dancing on that Meeting House stage.  I am the same Susan Landau who used to rush up to lead Adon Olam at the end of services in the Main Sanctuary.  The same Susan Landau who used to whisper to her sister in the pews (and sometimes, still does).

But of course, I have also changed.  I knew returning to Temple Emanu-El in a leadership role would be different, and I was not sure how it would feel.  Is everyone ready to see that I’ve grown up?

Thank you, Temple Emanu-El, for letting me come home.  We have all grown, and we have all stayed the same.  I am an erev rav, about to be ordained, and you all watched me grow into the person I am today.  I am so grateful that one of the constant homes in my life will always be there for me, no matter where I am.  That is the best that Providence has to offer.