Breathing. A normal, healthy adult takes between 12 and 20 breaths per minute. Assuming the average breathing rate is 16 breaths per minute, adult humans take 23,040 breaths per day without giving it so much as a second thought. I know I never really thought about it, until March 14 of this year.
As some of you know, I recently had a terrible battle with pneumonia that landed me in the hospital emergency room. I remember laying in that bed thinking, “is this it? Have I celebrated my last Passover? My last Shabbat? Am I going to die never having married? I grew up Catholic. I know all about Last Rites, but I have no idea what Jewish customs are!” And I started to pray. I couldn’t speak, and I was too tired to move my lips. All I could do was think the words and hope that, somehow, they would reach G-d.
I asked Rabbi Joseph to add my name to the Mi Shebeirach list that week, as I was still in the hospital during Shabbat. Once word went out that I was seriously ill, a magical thing happened. I began to see a side of this community that I had heard about, but never experienced firsthand.
People called to see how I was doing, and if I needed anything. The Caring Committee reached out. Rabbi Joseph came to visit, which was exactly what I needed. Sometimes, I need a voice of reason to tell me to slow down, or as she likes to say, “take a breath.” I have to laugh at the irony of that statement in this particular case because literally, all I wanted to do was take a breath without pain or coughing or effort. I wanted it to come as naturally as it used to.
Ellen came to visit on the day I was discharged, and I received one of the lovely “knitzvah” blankets made by our knitters. Once I was home, I was scared. I was going to have to rest, but somehow do things for myself, too.
And here’s why I love that blanket so very much – I wrapped myself in it and set up camp on my couch. It was as if my entire community was reaching out and hugging me. In that moment, I wasn’t scared anymore because I knew that I wasn’t alone. All I had to do was reach out, and somehow, things would happen. And yet, it was the idea of being in a giant hug for as long as I needed that was truly comforting. It isn’t just any old blanket, nor is it a collection of pieces of woven yarn. It is a physical manifestation of the healing wishes of those who physically assembled it and the community as a whole. That blanket, in particular, is a give of love, compassion, and caring.
I’m still not better, but I have all of you in my corner. And sitting here, on this Shabbat afternoon writing this, wrapped in my “knitzvah” blanket, I realize that I’ve just had another lesson in what it means to be part of a Jewish community. It’s a strong and powerful bond, reminding me once again, what an absolute privilege and an honor it is to be Jewish.
Rich is originally from Wayland, MA, and Lorna is from New Lebanon, NY. They now reside in Hingham with their daughter Grace and son Andrew.
Rich has been working for sixteen years in sales at Iron Mountain. Lorna worked for many years at Institute for Healthcare Improvement, planning educational conferences and company events. She is currently an at home Mom, and an active volunteer at the South Shore Art Center. Grace enjoys soccer, tennis and basketball. Andrew loves baseball, and would like to play hockey. Both kids love art, biking and soaking up the sun at the beach. Grace is enrolled in the religious school’s second grade and Andrew is in the Pre-K program.
Rich is a lifelong Boston sports fan and has converted Lorna to the point where she now yells at the TV with the same enthusiasm. Rich also plays golf whenever he has a chance, and Lorna loves yoga. They both have varied musical tastes, from Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Bruce Springsteen, all the way to Pavarotti. The family really enjoys the beach, sailing, kayaking, and time spent with friends. Family board games are an all season happening.
Rich and Lorna both volunteer in Hingham activities, Rich as a Hingham Gals basketball coach for Grace’s team, and Lorna at the SSAC (South Shore Art Center), the Hingham Women’s Club, as well as various school activities for the kids.
They heard about Sha’aray Shalom by researching temples on the South Shore before moving from Newton. Having a Jewish community for their children is important to the Rich and Lorna. They are very happy to be new members of the Temple and look forward to becoming more active in the CSS Community.
A HEARTY WELCOME TO THE NEWMAN FAMILY!
Adam grew up in Hingham, Keri in Revere, and they now reside in Norwell with their son Benjamin. They recently moved back to Massachusetts, after being away for over four years. During that time, Adam spent three months in Singapore on a special work project. He is the Vice President of Sales for Scientific Intake, a medical company based in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Keri is, in her own words, “strictly a stay-at-home mom” keeping tabs on Ben, who will turn 6 in March, and is currently enrolled in the kindergarten class at CSS. Mom proudly states that Ben is smart, funny, loving, easygoing, and loves sports and all things superheroes.
Adam and Keri travel frequently, Maui being one of their favorite destinations. While they love visiting all of the Caribbean, they look forward to expanding their travels, in a few years, with Greece, Italy, Spain and Israel on their bucket list. Both of them enjoy playing tennis and golf, love that Ben has showed an interest, and look forward to playing with him as well. Adam really likes to cook and loves to prepare amazing meals for family and friends. He would like to own a deli one day; hopefully it would be local!
Adam’s mom and dad, Joel and Christine, have been long-time members of Sha’aray Shalom. Adam grew up in our congregation, becoming a Bar Mitzvah during Rabbi Stephen Karol’s tenure, and in later years Rabbi Joseph and Cantor Weiss officiated at Keri’s conversion, their wedding and Benjamin’s baby naming.
A HEARTY WELCOME TO THE BERMAN FAMILY!
Renee & David Rudolph on their experiences at the MLK Ending Hunger Meal Packaging Event organized by the HHRLA (Hingham Hull Religious Leaders Assoc.) at the St. John’s Episcopal Church in Hingham. Also attending were Jessica Badiner. Ally and Marty Hall, Naomi and Julia Preble, Rene Katersky, Rabbi Shira Joseph and others.
We signed up thinking it was a helpful way to remember an amazing man.
We were so impressed with the HHRLA who ran the event ran like clockwork. We worked at a table with 10 other kind folks, 12 to a table, weighing, measuring and packaging, labeling and packing sealing bags of pasta and seasonings, 36 packets to a box. Having heard how many the food packaged that day…20,000 in Hull, Randolph and Brockton would be fed, we would happily have stayed longer. However at exactly one hour after we arrived the next team was waiting at our table to follow exactly what we had done.
Twice this year I have stood surrounded by my people. Once secular, at GenCon (largest tabletop gaming convention in North America), and once spiritual, at the URJ Biennial in Boston this past December. There is an indescribable joy in being surrounded by those who understand you and whose stories are like your own. We all experience it on a small scale at services and temple events. It is something else when it is at a convention hall full of people. It is easy to forget, living in the Northeast, how few we are. We should embrace the opportunities we have to congregate.
To say I am glad that Adrian and I went would be an understatement. The week at Biennial was full of learning, spiritual growth, and the opportunity to make new friends. I spoke with Jews from California to South Africa. Adrian made a new friend from NJ. There were classes on all aspects synagogue life, and many worship opportunities. It is the latter that were my favorites. The weekday services, though very early, were
well attended and spiritually uplifting. Though the Friday service, with its 6,000 attendees, was an experience, my heart belongs to the smaller services. It amazed me to see the variety of ways that Reform Jews worship. I even saw both men and women wearing tefillin. It reminded me what differentiates us from the other Jewish movements, and what makes the Reform movement so exceptional and welcoming.
The classes varied widely and covered all aspects of synagogue life. They ranged from diversity and inclusivity to finances. If anything, there were too many good options to choose from. That’s not to say all were perfect. I went to seminars that inspired and ones that I could have slept through. This happens at all large conventions where you have a variety and depth of speakers. What is important to me is that that I left most of them with something useful or a new insight.
I don’t know that I’ll go to the biennial in Chicago, but I would not miss another opportunity to attend a biennial so close to home.