When I was 10, I was in love with my religious school teacher. Her name was Mrs. Gruen and our class was so close that she invited us to her wedding. She was Orthodox and I remember wondering how she walked down the long staircase with a veil over her face. Now that I think back on it, she must have been very young, but she taught us so much and my love of Judaism was definitely stoked by her leadership and involvement with our class. Those were the days of growing up Jewish in Brooklyn, when everyone in the neighborhood was Jewish, and there were delis, kosher markets, and bakeries on every street. My classmates and I loved attending our religious school classes. We loved our teachers and everything we learned. We attended Junior Congregation every Shabbat morning, and one year, I even won a Schwinn bicycle (with banana handlebars) for the best attendance.
I can’t remember what I loved the most about those days – was it the community feeling? Was it the sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves? Or was it acknowledging and sharing our tradition in an accepting environment? I do know that the warm, wonderful feeling about religious school and our synagogue, is what we’re trying to capture now for our children and adults alike.
This time of year, we turn to learning about Purim and Passover- what wonderful narrative-driven holidays they are- no one gets tired of hearing the stories year after year. I look forward to the telling, as well as the food. In my home growing us, we celebrated every holiday (Jewish and secular) with my grandparents, so food was a major component since my grandmother was such a good cook. I still have her recipe for Hamentaschen. I also inherited her Jewish cookbook, the one she used when she emigrated from Israel. My grandparents were Zionists who left Vienna for family in Israel, but life was hard so they moved to Brooklyn to meet my grandfathers’ brothers, who were already there setting up their lives. In that cookbook, I discovered my grandmother’s borscht recipe, which she made every Passover, as well as her recipe for latkes, and other delicacies such as marble cake and more.
Many of our congregants have rich family traditions, but some don’t. We’re each on our own journey. Some of us can easily tap into our rich Jewish history and tradition, and things feel like they did growing up and all is good. For others, they are first creating their Jewish memories for themselves and their families. I think that together, our intergenerational community, can share what they know and learn from each other. Let’s keep getting to know each other, building relationships with each other, creating new ways to connect to and celebrate our Jewishness with each other. Whether this is food, Shabbat services, or even an outside event or class that we want to try together, let’s give it our all and come together as one Kehilla celebrating being Jewish in Framingham, MA in 2019.
Evie Kintzer Shorey, President