Rabbi Stanway received this note in early December 2011
Dear Rabbi Cy,
I was amazed at how Julia appeared so composed and confident during her cantorial experience in singing this past Friday and Saturday.
With less than an hour’s preparation, Julia went to temple with the book of music I prepared for her. John Shaeffer, our organist, was kind enough to give Julia a short rehearsal before the beginning of services on Friday night. I was truly in awe as a parent, watching my 19 year old college student glide through the service, leading the congregation in song, and chanting prayers in front of the Arc. How did this happen? I watched the faces of her Religious School teachers and friends in the congregation and I came to a realization. Julia, like so many other children at TBM, “grew up” in Temple.
Having made a family practice of coming to services at least three times a month DID SOMETHING. Julia and Leanna both knew the service, the prayers, the songs. Once I had the flu on a Friday night. My then 4 and 6 year olds wanted to go to Temple services, so I dropped them off at the front door. They immediately ran into the arms of welcoming women, teachers and friends, and I knew they were safe. I’ll never forget that night.
Attending two days a week of Religious school DID SOMETHING. I am so grateful for the vision and passion of Stella Stanway as our Principal, for the programming that made my children want to go to school. First as students and then as a teacher’s assistants, the experience was stimulating
and a spiritual awakening for both of my girls. They weren’t afraid of Torah, but embraced it with understanding and gained pride in reading Hebrew. Having a Rabbi who was available to the children and believes in a child friendly Bima DID SOMETHING. Running up with a group of friends to the Bima to sing prayers during services was a regular experience all the kids. They all gained a sense of trust and comfort on the Bima.
With your encouragement, we also had the opportunity to send our children to a URJ Summer camp. The experience gave my children a sense of belonging, love and pride, inspiration and self confidence. Their trip to Israel was a life changing chapter that they will have always. Their perspective of everything matured and they seemed to have come home with new-found wisdom, and maturity.
Last but not least, I can’t say enough about their experience in the Temple Youth Group. We as parents have so much to be thankful for
that these Groups are thriving at TBM. Together, with much love, passion and fun, the children learned responsibility and that to give back was a very valuable part of life.
I wanted to share all this with you because of my enormous gratitude for for everyone that makes this magic happen at Temple Beth Miriam.
We have profound memories that we can cherish beyond our wildest dreams. Thank you for giving a proud parent one more of these memories this past weekend.
Join us on November 16th at 8 PM for Shabbat (yeah, Shabbat!) and our New Music Shabbat – ShireiNEW as Cantor Scott Borsky teaches us new songs and leads us in prayer with Rabbi Stanway. Bring a friend!
Last fall at the post High Holiday review one of our members suggested that the prayer book for our well-attended Community service was not the best Beth Miriam could offer. Since our synagogue is vibrant, welcoming and innovative we felt that the prayer book should reflect that. After some discussion Rabbi Stanway decided it was time to replace the old prayer book with a new one created especially for the Community service. A committee member was asked to assist him in finding creative readings and graphics and proofreading copy. It took 6 months of effort but it was worth it. The new machzor containing both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services will debut in September. Please join us for the Community Service so you can see what’s new.
‘I had fun singing the songs in the practices. I am also glad I got to sing in front of the school’ – Sadie
‘I liked it when I got to go up by the microphone and read the people’s parts who weren’t there.’ – Daniella
‘I brightened my whole day. Nothing could come bad!’ – Abbey
‘I felt like there were 500 people. I was excited and happy. I was also a little scared.’ – Sarah F.
‘I felt happy and excited about the service because I got to sing in front of everyone.’ – Wendie F.
‘I felt really happy to represent part of the 3rd grade. I like being on the bima. I felt brave when I was reading.’ – Max R.
‘I felt proud of going on to the bima and singing and saying prayers. Everyone sounded great!’ – Olivia G.
‘I felt very happy and excited because I got to sing on the bima and stand near the ark with the Rabbi and the Cantor.’ – Sam B.
‘I like the story of how the chickens turn into goats!’ – Lily C.
‘I feel happy to represent the 3rd grade. The songs are very fun and catchy. It waqs fun to watch the audience laugh and smile when we sang “Wherever You Go.” The songs are easy to catch on to. I was giggling with everyone else when we ran to attack the challah. All the songs are catchy and, like I said before, are very catchy. I enjoy Hebrew school and can’t wait for the next service.’ – Mira
‘At the service I felt a bit nervous but when i said my line I felt a lot braver. At the end of the service I felt proud of myself and was not nervous anymore!’ – Maya
‘I was thinking that the song “Wherever You Go” was not good but it was ok. But the other songs are good like “Standing By the Sea” is the best of all that I sang. Actually it was the only song I sang out of all.’ – Rachel O.
‘I felt very proud when I sang the songs and when I did my part. I also liked having my family support me.’ – Jacob G.
‘My favorite time of the play was when i read my part of the play. I felt good about this play!’ – Julia E.
‘I liked when I went up to the microphone and said my part. I was glad that my family was there.’ – Matthew S.
‘I felt alive to be on stage and to sing with my friends.’ – Jack B.
‘I felt like I was at my bat mitzvah. I was a little nervous when I lit the candles.’ Gabby
‘I felt that it was fun. I was a little nervous when I was reading, singing, and when i said my name out loud. But it was cool.’ – Skylar K.
5th Grade Family Service Reflections
“I can’t wait to do it again.” That is what Matt wrote about his first time reading from the Torah, and he is only in the 5th grade! On December 10th,, his class held its family Shabbat service, which each grade does every year by singing songs, and depending on age, leading some prayers and individual English readings. Only this year, each student was given the opportunity to learn one verse (sentence) from the Torah to read in front of the congregation. The expectation is that, if they can learn one verse now, they will be less apprehensive when starting Bar or Bat Mitzvah training. They all claimed to be nervous (even scared) before the service, which is to be expected, but feelings shifted afterwards.
In class two days later, their Hebrew teacher asked them to write about the evening, and Matt also wrote, “The service was very exciting. I felt a little nervous before the service, but I also felt brave. I learned that if I can read the Torah now, it should be a piece of cake when I’m thirteen.” Anna wrote, “After I felt good. Once I started reading it was easy. I can’t believe I was so worried.” Jordan said, “It was nice to co-lead the service. It was meaningful to me to be able to read from the Torah. I learned that I can read from the Torah without vowels and I should practice a little more. When I finished I felt happy, proud of myself, and I felt like I got something accomplished.” Sara learned that she is more responsible than she thought she was, and learned a lot of new words that she didn’t know before. It was meaningful to her to read a verse from the Torah, since it is so special to the Jewish religion. Ted wrote of feeling proud of himself for reading in front of everyone, and now he is not scared to do things in front of people.
Bobby was similarly affected. “This whole Shabbat service deal of studying and singing has taught me a lot,” he wrote. “It taught me that I can’t wait till the last moment to do everything, but I have to do it right as I’m told to. I was really nervous about the service that something would go wrong for me, but the exact opposite happened. I rocked my English reading, I did my Torah reading, and I carried the Torah (it was heavy).” Adam added, “It was more meaningful than I expected to read out of the Torah. It meant a great deal to my parents and grandparents for me to read out of the Torah. That was a great family service.” Jessica wrote, “Before the service I was really scared and a little excited, but after, I was really happy and glad I did it. It was a lot of fun. It was really cool being able to read the Torah and co-lead the service. When I was scared, I just relaxed, and I wasn’t scared anymore. It was really fun.” Sam summed it up. “Before the service I felt nervous and didn’t know if I’d do good. After I was very proud of myself. I learned it takes a lot of work to read from the Torah. It is hard with no vowels. Even though it was hard it was meaningful. I felt proud and like a real Jewish kid. I thought it was good. The service was very good.”
So, as you can tell, these boys and girls benefited more than merely improving Hebrew skills. Obviously, some life lessons were learned. We pride ourselves at Beth Miriam for exposing our young congregants to more than classroom learning. From Kindergarten through Youth Group we kvell when any of our students are on the bima leading the congregation in song and prayer. They get more familiar with sanctuary surroundings each year of participation in a family service, particularly with the hope that when Bar or Bat Mitzvah time comes, each will feel more secure in his or her abilities, and be that “piece of cake”. It is so rewarding when they can feel proud of themselves, but I also happen to know that the 5th grade Hebrew teacher is VERY proud of them, too! If you haven’t yet experienced a Shabbat family service, they occur once a month at 7:30 from October through May. We welcome and encourage you to join us.
Join us for our next new music Shabbat service, ShireiNEW, which takes place about once a month. Check the temple calendar for full details.
The service will be filled with wonderful new songs to be added to TBM’s beautiful services on Shabbat and special occasions throughout the year.
Everyone is welcome! Bring a friend or come on your own. We welcome EVERYONE!
Grade 6 Family Service – November 12
Join us on November 12 as our extraordinary Grade 6 Class will lead us in worship during Kabbalat Shabbat Service. Service will begin at 7:30 PM (Please note the time). This is very meaningful service because our students will be reading a verse from the Torah, some of them for the very first time.
Everyone is most welcome to join us for this wonderful service.
…And something special from the Family Affair Committee
The TBM Family Affair Committee will be hosting the Oneg following the 6th. Grade Shabbat at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 12; and we invite our members and guests to familiarize themselves with this “hamishe” committee. It’s what makes our Beth Miriam Family unique in the ways we care about each other: providing flowers, phone calls, and meals to those who are ill and to families of the hospitalized, supportive phone calls, pizza for supper for those third grader families celebrating their first Hebrew School Classes, taxi rides to and from services to those who require it, breakfasts for the Rabbi’s teen classes, mailings to college students, and Blesssing Baskets for members dealing with long term issues. If you become interested in just one of these activities and volunteer for that one opportunity, you shall become a true member-with-feeling of our TBM Family. We look forward to seeing you Friday, November 12.
As the new year begins, we can reflect on the recent High Holy Day services at Temple Beth Miriam. First and foremost, it was the first true ‘test drive’ of our Cantor Scott. I feel like he was more than comfortable in his role and I am excited to see what he brings to services this year. To those that haven’t heard him at Friday night services or in religious school, he often has his keyboard with him, which brings yet another flare to TBM.
My experience with this year’s service was a little different than most. At both Rosh Hashanah’s and Yom Kippur’s morning services, I had to opportunity to help teach younger kids how they can still be a part of the service through song. TBM offers a babysitting service where youth group members watch children who are still too young to be able to sit through the entire service. In past years, this service has been lacking in Judaic themes. It has been difficult to entertain small children with Jewish themes. But this year, after playing in numerous services and playing for the religious school students for music with Will Kashdan, we both taught the kids how music can be used to invoke Judaism. We not only taught them some new songs, but added relevance to some songs they already know by tying them with common themes in the average life of an 8 year old. I was glad to be a part of hopefully helping these kids see Judaism in a new, more positive light.
The Religious Practices Committee is dedicated to overseeing that weekly and holiday services meet the congregation’s spiritual needs, and function as smoothly as possible. We try to make everyone feel welcome and special.
There are special times on the bima at almost every service. Once a month the Rabbi blesses all celebrating a birthday that month and is given a one-of-a-kind gift. Come for your birthday blessing and receive yours! Also, every five years each married couple is honored with an anniversary blessing on the bimah. It is a beautiful moment when the anniversary blessing is read and the nachas and joy is shared.
The members of the committee are Sharon Silverman, Michael Gross, Marian Gross, Milt Ziment, Steve Peckman, Irwin Hader, Faith Lessig, Roz Nagel, and Rabbi Cy.