We are so happy and proud of our WRJ Centennial Shabbat weekend plans.
We couldn’t wait to share our happiness with all of our sisters.
Beginning last night with a trip to Barrie, Ontario to a small wonderful Reform Congregation, Am Shalom we set off to share with the our “Little Sister” their beautiful Erev Shabbat service.
On this particular night we chose to share this wonderful Shabbat experience because they were celebrating an event called Shabbat across Canada that evening with Reform counterparts across North America.
This has been an annual event for seven years and is a growing in their community. When we visited Am Shalom late last year to encourage their participation in the WRJ Centennial event this year we connected and our two sisterhoods have remained in touch.
As part of the planning we sent out an invitation to the larger Reform community to participate in our plans to celebrate the 100 years of WRJ and Sisterhoods across North America and beyond.
So it only seemed natural that we would celebrate Shabbat with our other sisters. A small group of sisterhood women and my family set off to Barrie Friday night expecting the same warmth and hospitality that we received previously. We were welcomed so warmly and felt an immediate connection as if we were at our second home.
The Erev Shabbat began with a warm welcome from Rabbi Ilyse Glickman who announced our Sisterhood’s visit with kindness that extended to my family as well. Her beautiful words of welcoming Shabbat and welcoming us fused into the same thought as she expressed our connection as “Our Sisterhoods were beginning a big sister, little sister relationship”.
How aptly described. Our emotions soared as we were surrounded by the beauty of Erev Shabbat and the warm of this small congregation up north.
We were invited to kindle the light of Shabbat and began a wonderful service full of song, ruach and warmth. Dinner follwed by wonderful conversation and connections that will continue to grow. The cold March evening was ending with an inner glow and warmth that was truly special and set the weekend of celebration off to a wonderful start.
The next morning our new found friends of Am Shalom’s Sisterhood made the trip to Toronto to share with us our planned celebration.
Shabbat morning services at our Temple with the celebration of the Centennial and the celebration of young boy becoming Bar Mitzvah. What could be more special that this.
Morning services with our community and the Sisterhood from Am Shalom was a perfect way to begin Shabbat.
Our Sisterhood was honoured with an Alliyah where our Rabbi invited all visiting sisterhood members to join. We were strong and sung the prayer with a knowledge that we were representing women everywhere that in some cases could not have their voices heard, we sang for them and we sang for ourselves.
Surprising us with a beautiful blessing our Rabbi continued to share with us and the community a beautiful prayer from the new Covenant of the Soul prayer book recently published and released by WRJ. Emotions were high and tears of joy were experienced by all who were up on the bimah. What an incredible feeling to be surrounded by women, sisters who we laugh with, cry with and work with all for the same result, to be stronger together.
The sermon was given by our Rabbi and she spoke of the wisdom of the Torah parsha and the wisdom of women and the strength of the Women of Reform Judaism and the Centennial of WRJ. Rabbi Karen Thomashow found a unique and special way to bring all the elements of the parsha together and relate it to our celebration and the community and how the work we do is so special.
The song of Miriam dancing with her timbrels echoed the sanctuary as the choir sang and we all could not help but feel as we were there on the other side dancing with Miriam and the women of our past.
After service and moitze we had a wonderful potluck lunch. With songs sheets in hand the women of HBT Sisterhood, visiting Sisterhoods and visiting members of our community sang with large voices the newly commissioned song by Beth Shafer. Limdu Heitev.
Following the song session we were led in a engaging Torah study with our Rabbi Teri Appleby. All in all a wonderful Shabbat celebration and a very special WRJ Centennial Shabbat. A celebration that we are proud of and have enjoyed planning.
Together in sisterhood.
WRJ Centennial Ambassador
Holy Blossom Temple