Rabbi Goldberg led a Worship committee meeting on April 30. The stalwarts attended to discuss clergy garb for the High Holy Days. Since the committee hadn’t met since last fall when we talked about something relative to the High Holy Days (I really don’t remember the topic, to tell the truth), I wasn’t sure what to expect. My guess was that the rabbi would tell us what he prefers, and we’d all say something to the effect of, “Ok, if that’s what you want,” and that would be that.
To my surprise and delight, the meeting was a study session on Reform Responsa to the question of clergy garb. Eddie had brought some pages from a book called something like “More Reform Responsa,” (he wasn’t sure of the exact title). We read them aloud, going around the table to read, and he talked about the sources, both clerical and lay, and gave us background on the well-known ones.
And then we talked: to each other, to Eddie; we agreed and disagreed; we questioned and commented. The only definitive statement that we all agreed on was that it was the clergy’s (i.e. his) decision, and that came up right at the start of our conversation. I was really glad it began that way. It could have been that someone would say, “This is how it’s always been and that’s how it should stay.” But that didn’t happen.
Oh, we did reminisce about how it was in the “old” days at Sholom and at Temples where we’d grown up, talking about Rabbi Binstock’s formal morning suit (and Dr. Mann’s, as well;) others’ robes; prohibited kippot and tallitot; white kippot; dressing the Torah in white, and more. It was lively, funny at times; concerns about the feelings of the congregation came up, as did the feelings of the clergy for sanctity, intentionality and purity at the Holy Season.
But always, the undercurrent of “what the clergy wants,” was paramount.
In the end, we decided to put off a decision until next year, a compromise that was accompanied with the caveat that other things will change this year at the High Holy Day services.
We’d spent an interesting hour or so with our new Rabbi, and yet, when the meeting ended, groups were still standing around talking. I heard “Do you remember when….?”, and “What if…?”, and “Maybe we could….?”
It was something old made new. What a treat.