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90th Anniversary Address

12/12/2019 12:14:39 PM


Shaarei Shomayim begins its day – every morning at approximately 6 AM in the Weinbaum Beit Midrash. Rabbi Shore or I open the Talmud around a table of friends. On some level, the entire shul is with us in those moments. On some level, likewise, ninety years – the legacies of friends and family – are with us as we gather here this evening.

Among those legacies is the work of Rabbi David Monson, Rabbi Judah Washer, Rabbi Walter Wurzburger, Rabbi Emanuel Fohrman, Rabbi Henry Hoschander, Rabbi Chaim Sacknowitz, Rabbi Mark Dratch and Rabbi Moshe Shulman.

Allow me to quote from the Talmud with which our community begins its every day (Yoma 86):

Abaye said: “And you shall love the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 6:5), means, “You shall make the name of Heaven beloved.” How should one do so? One should do so in that he or she should read Torah, and learn Mishna, and serve Torah scholars, and be pleasant with people in business transactions. What do people say about such a person? Fortunate is the parent who taught him or her Torah, fortunate is the teacher who taught him or her Torah.

Abaye spoke about each of us. His message applies not just to us as individuals – but also to us as a community. Together, it is our obligation to make the name of Heaven beloved.

What makes a great community? Every person who walks into our building should leave better for the experience. Having touched Jewish life and community (inside our walls or beyond these walls), that person – be it a member or non-yet-a-member – a volunteer or not-yet-a-volunteer – should be able to say, “This experience has enriched my life.” That person should say about our community, “Fortunate are the parents who taught them how to perform mitzvot, fortunate are the teachers who taught them Torah.”

Consider this, in any given week, far more than 250 people touch our community. Over the course of a year, far more than 12,500 touches happen here - in 90 years, far more than a million. Today, we don’t celebrate 90 years. We celebrate over a million points of contact with inspiring Jewish life, Torah and community.

We celebrate:

the families who bundle up against the cold to make it to shul so that their children can learn shul’s sweetness from a lollipop and a smile from their rabbi

the high school boys and girls who wake up early on Shabbat to form a vibrant teen Minyan and to teach our children with love and fun at our amazing youth programs,

the beautiful songs of our chazanim, the careful Torah reading of Ralph Levine, and the inspiring Torah teaching of Rabbi Diamond

the bride and groom who walk down this aisle on the most memorable day of their lives

the 106-year-old-man who received an Aliyah on the occasion of a yahrzeit for a father born in the 1800s

the confident bar mitzvah boy who stands to read the Torah for the first time with a “little” knot in his stomach

the sisterhood which gathered before sukkot for all those years to string up fresh peppers to make our sukkah so beautiful.

the little boys and girls who spin graggers on Purim,

the mourners who help one another say the kaddish for the people who loved them most

the men and women who gather around to study chumash with rashi every Shabbat.

Tonight, we rejoice not in a building but what takes place in that building: we rejoice in the light and the lives. The lives that are lived; the lives that are loved; and the lives that are changed. Shaarei Shomayim is the place of the Jewish present – where one million touches happen. Shaarei Shomayim is where Judaism lives. Tonight, we celebrate that life. Shaarei Shomayim, for 90 years, has made the name of Heaven beloved. May we, Shaarei Shomayim, continue to make the name of Heaven beloved.

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Mon, 30 November 2020 14 Kislev 5781