Congregation Dor Hadash will be honoring 21 of its senior members during a special Shabbat service and luncheon Saturday, May 9.
The celebration, called “Seasons of Your Lives,” will recognize the contributions of the congregation’s oldest members — those over 80 years old — to the congregation as well as to the community at large.
This is the first time the member-led Reconstructionist synagogue, founded 45 years ago, has held a celebration specifically to honor its elders.
The celebration was the brainchild of lay cantor Cheryl Klein, whose idea came to fruition with the help of four additional committee members.
“A number of our honorees are founders of the congregation,” Klein said. “The oldest is 91 years old.”
Members of the congregation interviewed each honoree to learn a bit about his or her life story. Those interviews were turned into short, written biographies, which in turn will be compiled into a booklet, complete with photographs of each honoree.
On May 9, each interviewer will speak for a few minutes about an honoree. “This will be a huge celebration of their lives,” Klein said. “It’s a mitzvah.”
“Having been the only one to have read all the write-ups,” Klein continued, “I learned so much. I was incredibly impressed by their life stories and their accomplishments. I was impressed not only by the contributions they made to Dor Hadash, but to the global
Klein said she had no trouble recruiting members to participate in this project. Everyone was eager to have a chance to chat with the congregation’s oldest members.
“Not only were they happy to do it, but they were really excited to have been part of the process. They felt like they were receiving the honor for having the chance to talk to them for an hour or two. They considered it to be a tremendous opportunity.”
To help mark this occasion, Klein provided each honoree with a square of fabric to decorate in a way that reflected a special memory of Dor Hadash. The squares will then be sewed together to create a quilt-like cover for the podium from which the Torah is read.
Yetta Freedman, who is being honored along with her husband, Arnold, has been a member of Dor Hadash for over 44 years.
“We feel it’s family,” Freedman said.
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)