|a perfect shabbat morning at rodef sholom|
By Moji Javid Smulewitz
We woke up to a stormy Saturday morning and tried to decide as a family what we would do with our day. Sophia insisted on going to Tot Shabbat and said she didn't want to miss the Torah march. How could we argue with our almost four-year-old wanting to go to synagogue? We decided that Steven would stay home with the boys and that Sophia and I would go to Tot Shabbat.
After saying hi to some friends I noticed an elderly couple sitting in the back of the sanctuary. It was Don and Evelyn Paster. They have been members for many years and used to come to Shabbat every week. They have stopped doing so as Don's health is worsening and it makes it hard for them to participate. Evelyn has been telling me for months how much she misses being in the sanctuary with her community and we have been working on ways to get her there. I went up to wish them a Shabbat Shalom and tell to them how happy I was to see them there. Evelyn said they took Whistle-stop Wheels to get there and that she just "needed to try again". I told her I was happy to arrange rides for them any time she wanted to be at Shabbat. But she said that the congregation and the Nichum committee have already "done so much" for them she couldn't "ask for another thing". When I greeted Don, Evelyn asked him if he knew who I was. He replied, "Of course I know who it is, it's Moji!" She was very surprised that he remembered me and I was very touched.
The Torah March began so I ran back to join my Sophia as she marched proudly with her stuffed torah and sang every word of the songs with Jonathan. In the social hall I could see congregants coming in from Torah Study. Rabbi Lezak walked through the sanctuary smiling at the sight of the kids enjoying Shabbat and continued on his way to visit the Kol Hamishpacha families who were studying together in the JCC Lounge.
Then I noticed Ken King helping a couple with 2 ½ year old quadruplets get into their mini-van while he himself was getting very wet. We made our way to the safety of our mini-van having only stepped in a few puddles, and as I was buckling Sophia in to her booster seat she said, "Look, Mama, that woman (Cathy Ross-Perry) is helping Ryann's grandma get to the car and she's getting totally wet herself. And that man is helping Danya and her mommy get in to Jonathan's car and he's getting wet". I realized then that these amazing congregants weren't just hanging outside schmoozing but they were helping the Tot Shabbat families get to their cars in the pouring rain. We both sat there and watched them walking people to their cars all over the parking lot while getting more and more soaked. Finally Sophia said, "Mama, those people who are helping are so generous", to which I replied, "You are right, my love, they are very generous".
What an amazing morning. I couldn't be more proud to be a member of this holy community: as a mommy having her daughter learn the lesson of generosity by watching others, after participating in a wonderful Shabbat service surrounded by her friends; and as a member of the staff, that my amazing morning at Synagogue would end by watching congregants take the initiative to help others. It was a morning that encapsulated everything we are at Rodef Sholom. Congregants of all ages, different types of families, studying together, worshiping together, singing and dancing together, celebrating a lifecycle together and helping each other on a very wet Shabbat morning.