By Sharon Wisch-Ray
Every Friday night when I light my Shabbat candles, I choose which candlesticks to use. I have several pairs, but my favorite is a small set with a Star of David in the center and the words “Shabbat” on one base and “Shalom” on the other. I received them from Sadye Maye Garsek when I became a bat mitzvah at Congregation Ahavath Sholom in 1977. I remember the evening vividly, leading the processional of my friends and young niece Amy down the center aisle singing “Migdash Melech” with sweet baskets of flowers in our hands, ascending the bimah. I looked down and saw my Nana, Betty Wisch, literally bursting at the seems with joy (she also like to wear her dresses and her shoes a bit too tight). I also remember by niece Jordana — now the mother of her own four children — sitting on her mom’s lap, holding her blankey, and sucking her thumb, waving at me with her free fingers.
My mother baked for weeks, tons of family came to Cowtown for Thanksgiving and the bat mitzvah festivities and I woke up with a sore throat that day, which — thankfully — dissipated quickly.
My journey to becoming a bat mitzvah was unique. As a fourth grader, I announced to my parents that I wanted to have a bat mitzvah. Sunday school at Beth-El had sparked a thirst for Jewish education. However, at the time, Beth-El did not have bat mitzvahs. I remember visiting Rabbi Isadore Garsek with my parents. They explained, “Sharon would like a bat mitzvah,” and Rabbi Garsek replied in his thick accent, “It couldn’t hurt her.” The rest as they say is history. I began attending Hebrew school at the shul in addition to Sunday school at the Temple. I loved going to synagogue then, and I still love it today. I feel peaceful, grounded and connected.
For the last several months I’ve been attending services quite frequently with our son, Sam, who will be called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah at Congregation Shearith Israel in Dallas this weekend. This time together has been a true gift for me, and I hope one day Sam will see it that way too. There really aren’t words that adequately define how incredibly proud I am of Sam and the sincere path he’s taken as he has studied and prepared for this day. I am looking forward to Saturday morning, and I imagine I will be beaming much like my Nana was, but hopefully in the right-size clothes.
Ahavath Sholom wraps up film series this Sunday
Congregation Ahavath Sholom has this Sunday evening planned for you. The last movie of the summer film festival will start at 6:30 p.m. (after the evening minyan) on Sunday, Aug. 18.
“Follow Me,” is the story of Yonaton Netanyahu, the hero of the Entebbe raid which saved 103 hostages from Idi Amin’s hands. Yoni was the only Israeli casualty and this story is about him.
The film is sponsored by the Southwest Jewish Congress (SWJC) whose CEO, Lt. Col. (ret.) Gil Elan, will lead the discussion after the film. Gil is coming from Dallas to facilitate the film and know he will make it very exciting for everyone. He actually met Yoni while serving in the Israeli Army, so that should be exciting to hear about.
There is no cost, the film is a gift to the community and the popcorn and cold drinks are complimentary!
Debby Rice writes, “A special ‘thank you’ to the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County for supporting our Summer Film Festival. See you at the movies and thank you so much for making the shul’s Summer Film Festival such a great success.”
News and notes
Earlier this summer, four members of Congregation Kol Ami in Flower Mound took off for a 75-mile hiking trek at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M. All four members completed the rigorous adventure highlighted in the photo above at the 12,441 foot summit of Mount Baldy. These Scouts are proud members of Troop 265, Longhorn Council in Flower Mound and active members of Congregation Kol Ami.