Linda Rich

This is the Jewish people

It was just another Shabbat morning service at a progressive synagogue on NY’s Upper West Side.

The first aliyah (blessing for Torah reading) was shared by a newly married couple, he a very recent Jew by choice, on the bimah for the first time. [We had a first-timer last week too, one who was previously Muslim.] The second aliyah went to a nurse heading to Israel this week to volunteer at Hadassah Hospital. He’s also a Jew by choice. And, the Torah reader is the spouse of a long-time Jew by choice.

The final aliyah included a baby naming, the child of a Jewish mother and a Native American father. “Basia” was named for her great-grandmother, a survivor.

There was no b*mitzvah this week, though last week’s was the child of a Jew by choice. The week before we celebrated an African American child whose parents had decided to convert to Judaism together.

A few short decades back, many thought that intermarriage would destroy the Jewish people. We lacked the confidence to imagine that our way of life would appeal to others, that more would opt in, and that fewer would opt out.

I’m taking a moment away from the current storms to celebrate the rich and many-hued tapestry that is the Jewish people. Join me.

About the Author
Linda Rich is an executive coach and specialist in leadership development, focused on the nonprofit and faith-based sectors. She also crafts jewelry and Judaica.
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