On Sunday, October 7, our community came together to celebrate the installation of Rabbi Lisa Gelber as the Rabbi of Congregation Habonim. Starting on Saturday with a rousing d’var Torah from Rabbi Jan Uhrbach, we received seven lessons from Parsha Noah. Rabbi Uhrbach closed with a hearty mazal tov on finding a leader who can wrestle with the tensions between conflicting 21st century values and our tradition’s mitzvot, who can honor our past and partner with us to forge a new future together.
On Sunday, the celebrations continued in earnest as we heard Cantor Halev narrate our history from the hazardous and inspiring journey of our original Bonim (builders) from Essen, Germany to Manhattan’s Upper Westside. Immediate Past President and Search Committee Member, Neil Goldstein reminded us of the thoroughness of our search process, and how we continue to be grateful for having identified a rabbi who could truly meet our community’s needs. Rabbi Gelber shared her belief that we are better together and stronger when we build from our roots. Treasured, long-time friend and colleague Rabbi David Wise invoked a blessing upon Rabbi Gelber and the entire community by explaining that, in a covenantal relationship between congregation and rabbi, the community is equally blessed…. "[Habonim] is blessed to have a leader with a commitment to issues that nurture body and soul [as] part of her rabbinic blessing, notably her devotion to those who have suffered domestic violence. The spiritual mentorship she has received, she has gifted to others, blessing all those who come under her rabbinic canopy of shelter and care… She is committed to inspiring you to reflect love into the world, by leading you in acts of kindness both within and beyond the congregational orbit. And in the rabbinate of the 21st century, Rabbi Gelber is also charged with motivating you to lead this kehillah kedoshah, this holy congregation, with vision and intentionality. No rabbi, not even one as gifted as Rabbi Gelber, can do so alone. It is, as she would say, a time for the Judaism of relationships, and I dare add that only communities that embrace this vision will continue to be meaningful to the Jews of today and tomorrow."
Following a stirring recitation of the shehecheyanu, current president Richard Verner closed the formal part of our program by welcoming us to a festive reception with delicious food and wonderful wine and prosecco all accompanied by klezmer music.
Read Rabbi Gelber's Better Together: Building from Our Roots here.