By Sharon Wisch-Ray
Naturally, we have a lot of content about Passover this week. If y’all are like me, your mind is racing down your to-do list trying to get things in order for your seders. While those seated at our seder table change year in and year out, it is a unique time to contemplate our shared history, as a people, as a family and as members of a free society. My best wisches to you and yours for a happy, meaningful Passover.
Speaking of seders
The annual Tarrant County Women’s Seder is set for Sunday, April 20, the sixth day of Passover, at the Mistletoe Heights home of Kim Factor. The seder, a Pesach potluck from 2 to 4 p.m., will include singing, spirituality, camaraderie and reflection.
Sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, the local women’s seder began in 2003 in a private home with 24 guests. The next year, attendance doubled. By the third year, it was hosted in the Great Hall at Fort Worth’s Beth-El Congregation. During the years since, it has moved to Arlington’s Beth Shalom, to Fort Worth’s Ahavath Sholom, back to Beth-El and returned to the intimacy of a private home.
A special Haggadah, compiled by cantorial soloist Monica Braverman, includes a blessing for both Miriam’s cup and Elijah’s cup. Instead of celebrating the traditional “four sons,” cups of wine will be raised to four special women from the local Jewish community. At last year’s seder, cups were raised to Dolores Schneider, who has successfully battled illness; educator Rachel Jacobi; Holocaust survivor Brigitte Altman; and community leader Eileen House, who was departing Fort Worth and helped plan the initial seder.
There is no admission fee for the seder, except to bring a dish to the potluck. RSVP to Laurie James at email@example.com or to Angie Kitzman at the Jewish Federation, firstname.lastname@example.org or at 817-569-0892.
The Kippah Project
How many times have you attended a bar or bat mitzvah and returned home with a souvenir yarmulke or kippah in your pocket or purse? If you have attended services on a regular basis you probably have a bag or drawer full.
Several years ago Phil Kabakoff, a longtime member of Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington, found that there was a large bag of kippot stored in his house and wondered how many other congregants had accumulated a similar collection. Why not display them someplace?
After discussing this question with several other members of the congregation, Phil decided to frame them and present them to the congregation as a history of all those celebrating this mitzvah.
First, it was a matter or sorting through his collection to eliminate duplicates and then putting them in chronological order. Then asking others for their kippah collections to sort through and find any that were missing. Keeping those and returning the rest. It was determined early in the process that he would only collect bar and bat mitzvah kippot of members that have Congregation Beth Shalom stamped inside the kippah, as it was hard to determine if a kippah from a wedding had taken place at the temple or if the wedding was of members of the congregation. This also helped sort those bar and bat mitzvah’s from other congregations that were attended over the years.
Phil tried to reconcile his list with that from the congregation office, but found that while there were records of who had attended religious school and when their bar or bat mitzvah should have taken place, records did not show if the ceremony had actually taken place. Some families moved, some did not have a bar or bat mitzvah. Some had a bar or bat mitzvah, but did not have a kippah.
A list was made of all those known to have had a ceremony both by date and alphabetically. This was circulated though the congregation to determine if someone knew of any corrections to the list or if anybody was left out.
Finally after several years of working on the Kippah Project, it was brought up to date and the kippot were framed, showing the imprint on the inside of each kippah. There is also a corresponding listing of everyone whether they had a kippah or not. The kippot are now on display in the social hall of Congregation Beth Shalom and will be added to as b’nai mitzvahs are celebrated in the future.
Stop by and view the history of b’nai mitzvahs at Congregation Beth Shalom.