Shalom, y'all. That's right, the OCeeker recently drove his goyisher self to Temple Beth Sholom in Santa Ana for a Shabbat evening service.
Cohen has led Temple Beth Sholom since 1998. According to the temple's website, she brings traditional Jewish concepts to a Reform Judaism context; that means cherry-picking the wisdom of the ancients and mixing it with some liberal ideas about inclusion and letting women take shit over.
February 24 marked the 100-year anniversary of the founding of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. The group was formed in New York City by Henrietta Szold and the Daughters of Zion, to promote health care and train nurses in Palestine; it claims around 300,000 members worldwide.
Minutes into the Shabbat service, Cohen called forth a girl who was to celebrate her bat mitzvah over the weekend, telling her she stands in the footsteps of Szold.
“Today, as you are starting this journey of becoming a bat mitzvahed, be inspired,” Cohen said. “Know, my dear, you can make a difference. Know you are empowered. You have the power to change the world, just as one woman named Henrietta Szold did over a hundred years ago.”
Cohen then invited the girl onstage, along with her family, and allowed her the honor of lighting the Shabbat candles and leading kiddush–the Jewish blessing and prayer over the wine.
“May the light of Shabbat illumine our sanctuary and its warmth remain with us throughout our days,” the girl read from the prayer book.
Reinwald and Cohen then led the singing of “L'Khah Dodee”, a song to welcome Shabbat.
Cohen instructed the congregation to rise and face the front door, welcoming Shabbat to “come in and join us,” then motioned for the congregation to sit down, a la New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees when he quiets the home crowd during a game-winning drive down the field.
Cohen later invited two elderly women to offer a Haddasah Shabbat prayer, and they remembered both Szold and Queen Esther, the Biblical figure for whom the movement was named. Hadassah was established during the Jewish holiday Purim, which marks Queen Esther foiling a plot by an asshole named Haman to go all Waffen-SS on the Israelites.
Two more elderly women were also called forth to make a Hadassah presentation, one of them saying, “So there's Henrietta Szold, there's Esther, and and there's our own Rabbi Cohen to inspire us every day.”
We then raced to the social hall. The OCeeker was the first to the pastry table, where he feasted on hamentashen!
The OCeeker gave Cohen's service a B. She's easy on the eyes and moves things along at a steady clip, but lesser goyim could get lost in the liturgy.
Although a nice gentleman opened the front door for the OCeeker, no one introduced themselves.
Temple Beth Sholom meets every Friday at 7:30 p.m., and every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at 2625 N. Tustin Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 628-4600; www.tbsoc.com