Letter from Rabbi Ross
Dear TBS Friends and Family,
Our final session of a year long study of Prophets will be this Saturday at 9:30 am. Our focus this Saturday is Ezekiel and his mystical visions!
Bagels will be served. All are welcome!
Our Saturday morning study group will take the month of July off, and then we will regroup in late August for a very special series of new classes called “Prayer Lab.”
Photo by Amy McCormick
PRIDE SHABBAT IN THE NEWS!
Here’s my monthly column that is running in the Record-Courier this weekend about our Pride Shabbat earlier in June.
Celebrating LGBTQ Pride, Conversion & Torah
By Rabbi Michael Ross
Recently, we celebrated a week of LGBTQ Pride events to kick-off Pride month at Temple Beth Shalom in Hudson. At Hudson’s Memorial Day Parade, my wife, my son and I joined the new group “Pride in Hudson,” as we marched through the parade route together. It was wonderful to hear a chorus of cheers and applause as our banner was welcomed throughout the route.
A few days later, I convened a Jewish law court, or Beit Din, as we immersed two of our conversion students to Judaism at the ritual bath or mikvah. One is trans and the other is non-binary. Tears flowed easily down our cheeks as we welcomed them ritually into the Jewish community.
On Friday, June 3, TBS Hudson hosted its inaugural Pride Shabbat. Four of our community members spoke about their intersections of their queer identities and their Jewish identities. We read special poems and sang a few queer anthems as well.
At our Torah Service that evening, we asked our two newest members – our recent conversion candidates – to carry the Torah scrolls and process them through the community. Placing the two Torah scrolls in their arms was one of the great blessings of my rabbinate. We welcomed in the holiday of Shavuot, where Jews celebrate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. We were re-enacting that moment with our newest members. Our Judaism 101 class had joined us that evening for a special dinner. In that class we have a second small group of conversion candidates who witnessed the successful completion of the conversion journey in Judaism.
The following evening, at B’nai Jeshurun in Pepper Pike, in honor of the festival of Shavuot, TBS co-sponsored an all-night community study session to prepare us for the moment of receiving the Torah. We were joined by more than a dozen other groups. I was one of the first teachers that evening, and I led a session about the Book of Ruth, which is the special study text for the holiday. Ruth is the story of a non-Jewish woman who is considered the first convert to Judaism. I spoke about how before the pandemic, I had one or two students a year interested in conversion, maybe. During the first year of the pandemic that number grew to 5. This year it grew to more than a dozen students from TBS and Kent State Hillel who are now studying for conversion. The majority of these conversion students are part of the LGBTQ community, and it’s up to us to welcome them with open arms.
Our Jewish community is broadening and expanding. It is such a joy and blessing to have these new faces in our community who challenge us to love them with the same unconditional love that Ruth showed Naomi in the Book of Ruth.
May we go from strength to strength.
UPCOMING TBS GATHERINGS
- Sat. 6/25, 9:30 am: Prophets’ Class – Ezekiel – zoom and in-person
- SAVE THE DATE: Fri. 7/8, 5:30 pm: TBS Family Shabbat Cookout & Service @ Hudson Springs Park, Large Mays Pavilion – in-person only
- Sun. 7/17, 9am: Brotherhood Meeting – Social Room & on Zoom
- Fri. 7/22, 7:30 pm: Shabbat Service at TBS 7:30 pm
- Sat. 7/23, 8:30-11:00 am: Brotherhood Volunteer Project at Akron-Canton Food Bank