Two women were honored as Jewish Stars at our 125th Gala celebration October 20, 2018.
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat – Before she was our Rabbi she was a congregant and while she was a congregant she decided on her chosen path. Her path to the Rabbinate may have been influenced by one of CBIs former Rabbis, Jeff Goldwasser. It may have started as an active member of the Williams College Jewish association. It may have been influenced by her close association with her friend & colleague at school the future Rabbi David Markus. But when asked the question as to why CBI R’Rachel gave an answer we hear regularly around here: she found CBI to be a warm and welcoming community. A community that helped her to be Jewish and to do Jewish. A community that helped her grow. I often wonder why a young person would stay in the County when there is so much more opportunity elsewhere. For R’Rachel it’s not simply that the county has the right mix of culture and nature, a place where she and her son can co-create beautiful lasting memories, it’s also, in her own poetic words, “the impossibly precious opportunity to care for this community and to hold open the door to spiritual practice and spiritual experience so that all feel welcome to walk through.”
What continues to inspire R’Rachel is Yom Kippur and Neilah service in particular. What I find interesting about that is her quiet enthusiasm about that service is probably what makes that hour so special. R’Rachel deep spirituality, love of community and love for this community, her ability to create an environment that allows others to experience the sense of community that she experienced when she first stepped through those doors, the joy of davenning together, dining together, being together is what compelled the Gala committee to come together to award R’Rachel the Jewish Star.
Susan Savitt Hogan – had a similar experience here at CBI. The one, I guess you could say, glaring exception, is that Sue did not go to seminary. However, it would be very true indeed that without Sue’s involvement with CBI we would not be the community we are today. What brought Sue to CBI was a professional relocation to the region. What keeps her here is the community and, she has also noted, Bob Greenburg’s food. And the fact that we have a vibrant Hebrew school of youngsters and older, presumably, mature adults. She has specifically mentioned baby namings. Ya know when she mentioned that I thought about it. I’ve been here for just one naming ceremony and it is rather special. In a sense, that child is our child.
Sue has also been thankful for a caring community that, when it sees a need, addresses that need, when one of us is in need there is someone to help. Beyond that there are our special celebrations: Purim, Passover. Celebrations where we are all together as a community. What drove the committee to award her this special honor was because of who Susan is and what, in her quiet way, she brings to our collective table. She has been our treasurer who not only keeps our books but keeps us from the edge. I love hearing those words from her when she delivers her report at boards meetings: We’re in good shape! She does this job with distinction, she does this job with skill, she does this job with the quiet dignity of someone who is committed to excellence and committed to the community. She communicates loudly by just being who she is. Thank you, Susan, for being our Jewish Star.
Previous Jewish Star Award Recipients:
Grace Bowen – 2013
Len Radin – 2007
Chris Kelly – 2006