I wanted to share a wonderful story (including a music video of Masorti Israel in action) that exemplifies the best of the Masorti Movement — the combination of traditional Jewish practice with the values of inclusion, pluralism and modernity. Read about this unusual Rosh Hashana hosted by a dynamic Masorti couple, rabbinical student Nava Meiersdorf-Berenshtin and Rabbi Yerach Meiersdorf, at the brand new Masorti kehillah in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem. Here, women and men find joy in celebrating the Hasidic Rosh Hashana, with the inclusive vision of their egalitarian Masorti community. Amazing and inspiring. Nava tells the story of the fulfillment of her long-held dream of participating –as an equal– in a Hasidic 19 Kislev Rosh Hashana celebration.
I have no words to describe my excitement! In our brand new Masorti kehillah, Ein Keren in Jerusalem, we were able to organize a Hasidic Rosh Hashana celebration, something I had long hoped to experience. To make this celebration even more special, we were fortunate to learn Torah from Rabbi Dr. Reb Mimi Feigelson, and we were privileged to have the amazing Deborah Sacks-Mintz there with her beautiful voice to rock the sky. And it all took place in our living room in Ein Kerem on the Hasidic Rosh Hashana of 19 Kislev.
We came with love and faith for an amazing evening.
I think we are the only Kehilah of the Masorti Movement that did something for 19 Kislev, (the Hasidic New Year,the date that Rabbi Schneur Zalman,the founder of Hasidism, was freed from his imprisonment in czarist Russia). It was as spiritual and beautiful as I imagined! And it was egalitarian!
Rabbi Schneur Zalman
There are many places around the world that celebrate 19 Kislev but we are the only place where women are allowed to sit next to men. The only place where the “tish” was lead by women. (The “tish,” a custom unique to Hasidim, centers around the rebbe’s table—or “tish,” in Yiddish. After the meal, the rebbe begins a discourse on the Torah or Hasidic lore and song and drink may follow.) Hasidism was a popular movement. It changes with the times and knows how to keep the sparks going in your soul.
I’m so thankful our Masorti community could share the sparks after so many years. Thankful for our charismatic young rabbi, Yerachmiel Meiersdorf and also for my dear friend and a rabbinical student, Deborah Sacks-Mintz,—here with us for a short semester from JTS — we’re lucky they inspired this evening which we will always treasure.
Nava Meiersdorf-Berenshtin with Rabbi Yerachmiel Meiersdorf