President’s September 2022 Column

 A Hundred – Identifies

It’s auspicious that our Temple Judah has reached the milestone of turning a hundred years old. One can only imagine the pride in 1922 of a group of Jewish families coming together to form this community. A congregation that is still in operation today within a beautiful synagogue. This also leads me to consider how they viewed their Jewish identity – those Jews, most of whom were born in the late 1800s coming from other countries. Why was establishing this Temple so important to them?

A synagogue serves many purposes. It is a place for religious worship, a sanctuary for life events including B’nai Mitzvah, weddings and shiva. In a way, the synagogue becomes the embodiment of one’s Jewish identity. How strong is that identity, for you? What actions seem to connect you with your Jewish self?

It is a conundrum imagining the multitude of identities we each carry within us. We take them out of our pocket, these identities, when we are with peers or in a time of need or desire. Such is natural and healthy. One can identify as a man or women or other gender identities; as a liberal or conservative in politics and religion; as a banker or engineer, Hawkeye or Cubs, as a vegetarian or omnivore … and the list goes on. There are probably a hundred of them and one of those identities is probably as a Jew.

Such a public statement today may not amount as much as one may think. But imagine a hundred years ago and what your great-grandparents may have felt if they were the age you are now? How comfortable did they feel in that Jewish identity when not within their own community? Then, this temple also may have served as a personal sanctuary.

This brings us to today, 2022. Let’s do something that helps foster this Jewish identity within. Please join us September 11th when we will celebrate, together as a community, a hundred years of Temple Judah, a hundred identities.

Robert Becker
Temple Judah President