North American Reform mohalim are trained and certified by the Brit Milah Board of Reform Judaism and supported by the National Organization of American Mohalim, (NOAM), which works to make the practice of b'rit milahan available, meaningful, and relevant Jewish lifecycle ritual for families.
Related Blog Posts on Author Interviews, COVID-19, Death and Mourning, Lifecycle Rituals, and Spirituality
How the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting and Processing Grief Led Me to Heller High – and Changed My Life
I became bat mitzvah on October 27, 2018. It was both one of the best and worst days of my life. At the same time I was on the bima at my home congregation of Temple Emanuel in Greensboro, NC, a gunman at another community in Pittsburgh walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue and killed 11 Jewish people.
My Hebrew name is Emunah, and I have autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).
I spent months hiding inside my home after Covid-19 was declared a global health emergency. During that time, the Talmudic description of evil spirits resonated with me. It was certainly how I felt, surrounded by invisible threats just outside my door. Since I am a children's author, I channeled these fears into a picture book featuring a supernatural spirit.
As we look out from the pulpit, we know there are good reasons that some faces that were familiar before March 2020 are now missing. We have embraced technology at every opportunity. The quality of our livestreaming worship, even in smaller synagogues, is excellent. Many congregants have grown accustomed to praying from the comfort of their couch.
Tishah B'Av is a day of mourning, commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples. In recent years, it's also a day to mourn other tragedies that have darkened Jewish history - the Romans putting down the Bar Kochba revolt, mass murders of Jewish communities during the Crusades, expulsions from England, France, and Spain in the Middle Ages, and the Holocaust.
We have lost one of the G'dolay ha'dor, one of the rabbinic giants of our time. Rabbi Dow Marmur's life reflected the triumphs and tragedy of 20th Century Jewish life, beginning in Poland on the eve of the Shoah to his last days in the State of Israel. He was truly brilliant, incisive, and witty, with unshakable integrity.
I love seeing how our students at Temple Shalom of Newton transform throughout the process of becoming BMitzvah. It's the end of my first year coordinating the BMitzvah program and my colleague Allison Lobron, an experienced leader in inclusion and social emotional learning, and I are hosting an end of year celebration for our BMitzvah students.
After two years of teaching remotely and watching far too many movies and television series on Netflix on the same computer screen I use to interact with these students, I wonder if I feel less connected to these "virtual" students than the hundreds of young people I taught in person over the past decades.
Last year, I spent Seollal, or Korean New Year, with my family in Busan. The symbolism, the spirituality, and the elaborate order of charye remind me of Jewish holidays and rituals.