Temple Beth-El in Hornell, NY, had a celebration to recognize its inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places on Sunday, October 9, 2016. The building itself is not impressive to look at. It is “Minimal Tradition” in style, and small compared to what the mind thinks of when it hears the word temple, or synagogue. As we learned in the dedication yesterday, it’s not what the building looks like, it’s the people who make its heart beat that are important.
There were thirteen of my husband’s family there because their grandfather was instrumental in making the congregation a thriving entity back in the ’40s when there was a large contingency of Jewish people living in Hornell. Today, that is not the case. The Temple is only open for the fall High Days, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
Since the year 2000, the services have been led by a teacher from a Jewish school in Washington, D.C. We call him our visiting Rabbi, but he will tell you, “I’m not ordained.” We still call him Rabbi out of respect and love. My husband and I had the privilege of having him stay in our home Saturday night and taking him to the event on Sunday. We do not keep a kosher home and I was concerned about what to feed him. Somewhere in the conversation we remembered from sharing other meals with him, that he doesn’t eat meat, and he loves fruit. I relaxed a little.
The question in our modern world of travel is always, will the plane be on time. He was supposed to arrive at 11:30pm Saturday evening. Well, that turned into 3:00am Sunday morning. When we got back to the house, Paul had a meal of fresh fruit, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, peanuts and three peanut butter cookies. He did join us for a cheese omelet late Sunday morning.
The celebration was a HUGE success. The Temple was full to almost overflowing. A sight to behold when you know what it looks like on a high day. A few people did a lot of work to make the registration happen. We are proud to be a part of the heart beat. So what’s the point of all this? Our cousin took our “Rabbi” back to D.C after the service. Before they left, he whispered to me, “What do I feed him? Can I stop at a restaurant?” I laughed, relieved to know I wasn’t the only one with that question. I had packed them a bag with fruit, hard-boiled eggs, and cookies, but I meant it as a snack. I’ll have to find out if they stopped someplace.
We appreciate that Paul leads our services every fall. You ought to hear how fast he can speak Hebrew! [Note; he looks nothing like the above picture and doesn’t wear a collar.]