Together, with Intention

This past summer (2019) I had the honor and privilege of being the TJF fellow at Temple Sholom synagogue. It was a wonderful summer, full of new experiences and challenges. Rabbi Terlinchamp was on sabbatical throughout the summer, and I was very fortunate that the lovely staff and community of Temple Sholom greeted me with open arms. Throughout the summer, our focus as a community was on three pillars of Avodat HaKodesh, or Sacred Service: prayer, social justice, and study.

Temple Sholom strives to be one of the leading synagogues and communities within Cincinnati when it comes to social justice, acceptance, and inclusiveness. With initiatives like their JustLOVE campaign, Temple Sholom is paving the way for a more equal and better tomorrow. JustLOVE features events throughout the Cincinnati community that aim to spearhead conversations on issues plaguing our nation today. While acting as the rabbinic presence at Temple Sholom, I also sought to emphasize social justice. At Cincinnati’s Pride Parade, I, along with a few other HUC-JIR students, led the way for the Jewish community. Together we held a brief Shacharit, or morning prayer service, and set the pace from the front of the pack for the Jewish community of Cincinnati in the march. Throughout the march, we sang Jewish songs of peace, joy, and love to send out our Jewish message to the Cincinnati community.

Within the walls of Temple Sholom, I worked to engage community members in their prayer practice. I used a variety of instruments—ukulele, cornet, trumpet, baroque trumpet—to challenge the community with new music in their prayer services, including some original compositions to keep congregants on their toes, just a bit, during prayer. This is kavanah, or intention, in prayer. The new and unfamiliar worship tunes meant that each individual needed to be fully present and engaged each Shabbat. Our summer ended with a wonderful, entirely musical Shabbat service. The second to last Shabbat service, I, with the help of HUC-JIR rabbinical students Zoe McCoon and Becca Diamond, led a musical Israeli-style Shabbat service. The musical selections were from Nava Tehila, a group I had the honor of being a part of during my year in Israel.

Our third pillar of Avodat HaKodesh during my summer at Temple Sholom was study. Each week I taught an introduction to Hebrew course for adults. This class was unique in the way it approached the acquisition of Hebrew. I organized the language of Hebrew similar to that of music. Music has elements, such as pitch, tempo, and timbre; languages also contain different elements, such as reading, writing, phonetics, and comprehension. Each class session throughout the summer was dedicated to an element of language. We played games in Hebrew, did word searches in Hebrew, and listened to Disney songs in Hebrew…to name a few. Students in the class were amazed after several sessions that we could begin to converse in Hebrew. They also began to understand and appreciate the true richness and depth of the Hebrew language, while also sharpening their own personal communication and language acquisition skills.

This past summer, as the TJF fellow at Temple Sholom, was filled with challenges and opportunities that led to growth for both me and the community. Together, with intention, we at Temple Sholom deepened our understanding of Avodat HaKodesh and our capacity to perform it in our community. 

David Jaffe finds a particular connection in Judaism through Hebrew and the shofar. He has served as a TJF Fellow at Wise Temple and Temple Sholom and is currently the student rabbi at Temple Israel in Marion, Ohio.

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