from Rabbi Dev Noily
Dear beloved Kehilla community,
I’m filled with love and gratitude from the Brit Kehilla weekend, and I know I’ll be savoring so many moments of joy and connection and tears for many years to come. I was so moved, again and again, by the beauty of our community, and by the thoughtfulness and care and sparkling lights and glittery shoes and tasty treats and words of blessing that so many of you contributed to making the Brit Kehilla such a transformative and celebratory ritual. Thank you for being part of it!
There were so many highlights for me, and more keep emerging. I want to share just a few. I loved having Rabbi Benay and Rabbi Margaret with us! I loved seeing them get a glimpse of Kehilla, and I loved seeing Kehilla folks get to know these great Jewish teachers who are part of our extended community. Seeing the sanctuary transformed into a beit midrash, a house of study, filled my heart with joy and my eyes with tears. I can’t really describe it, but there were moments when I felt like I was suddenly transported olam haba, the world to come. I’ve never really given much thought to olam haba, but this experience took me there.
Receiving our Torahs from Rabbi David and Rabbi Burt with Hazzan Shulamit I felt transported. I felt something shift inside me as I heard Rabbi Burt’s words. I felt myself dropping into my place in this beautiful lineage and company that extends back through time and into the future, and that extends outward to embrace all of us who share spiritual community. I feel honored to have Rabbi David’s and Rabbi Burt’s continuing presence and guidance in serving Kehilla. And I’m grateful to have Hazzan Shulamit as my partner now on the clergy team. While I’m soaking in all the loving attention that came my way on that Shabbat, I’m mindful that Kehilla’s spiritual leadership doesn’t come through any individual, but through our devoted and wise team of Spiritual Leaders and Musical Prayer Leaders. That’s a big part of what drew me to Kehilla, and what I love about being here.
And don’t get me started on the klezmer band, the MPL Sisters’ radical reframe of Bei Mir Bist Du Schon, and Sharon Grodin digging up Leonard Cohen’s version of Un Az Der Rebbe Tants, and Jeanette Lewicki doing it live. Neither of them knew this, but my grandfather, my saba Yehudah, used to sing Un Az Der Rebbe Tantz, acting out each verse (As the rabbi dances, sings, sleeps, eats, etc.). I was blessed to have a long and close relationship with my saba, and having that song as part of the celebration brought him right into the middle of it.
So many people put so much into making this happen, and I thank you all with a full, full heart. My deepest thanks to our unflappable Executive Director, Michael Saxe-Taller, who was not only our “cruise director” all weekend, but also the man-behind-the-curtain for months of planning. And to Howard Hamburger and Hazzan Shulamit, who envisioned and brought to life all of our spiritual practice and ritual, in the midst of and on the heels of High Holy Days. Thank you to all of the volunteers who helped plan and execute parts of the weekend, including Susan Freundlich, Remedios Martinez-Cantu, Marjorie Cox, Karen Cohn, Marcie Rubel, Shoshana Finacom, Anna Martin, Allison Rodman, Barbara Cohen, Lisa Bernard-Pearl, Cathy Miller, Julia Epstein, Natalie Roden, Jenny Wong, Barbara Petterson, Ruth Atkin, Don and Bracha Stone, Jay Koch, Jenna Stover Kemp, Norma Mark, Loel Solomon and Neal Davis. And thank you to our amazing Kehilla staff! Dee Ward, Rebecca Spiro, Natalie Boskin, Josef Straub, Rabbi Gray Myrseth, Molly Melamed and Fred Williamson. Thank you to everyone who shared a blessing, who made a donation, and who came to celebrate and daven and learn and dance.
May we continue to celebrate whenever possible, and to create the joyful and righteous spaces that we need for ourselves, and that we want for our beloved ones.