What is a Rabbi, continued…

by Congregant Liz Gellis

I pose again the question from last month. What do you need/want from your rabbi? It is an open-ended question. There are no right or wrong answers but there can be 300+ different answers from our members.

Your perspective depends on your Jewish background (Reform, Conservative, etc.); if you are a Jew by Choice (convert); your Jewish education and experiences as a child, young adult, and even later in life; the influence of family (Holocaust survivors, where you grew up); how long you have been a member of your current congregation; and many more variables. Can you imagine that your rabbi has to be able to address all of those? I haven’t even mentioned sermons, services, shiva calls, and all of the duties expected from a rabbi.

How many of you remember when Cantor Marci started at the JCV more than 20 years ago? I have only known her for six years but it is so rare to find a female cantor with such a relatable voice. What I mean by that comment is that she chants beautifully and she is more like Joni Mitchell than Maria Callas (brilliant opera singer, who I loved). That is my personal view, of course.

More importantly, I have watched Cantor Marci grow as our senior clergy in these last months.

As a retired synagogue executive director and then a synagogue consultant for the Jewish Federation in Philadelphia, I am well-versed in the “behind the scenes” of synagogue life. There is a lot to running a synagogue, no matter the size. In these difficult times, we are fortunate to have Cantor Marci’s warm, empathetic, and authentic embrace (figuratively and literally). Right now, at this moment, this is what we need from her.

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