Sunday, June 7, 2009

Summer in Cincinnati

There are lots of "official" beginnings to summer. One of these is, for me, the Rabbinic Ordination ceremonies in Cincinnati, Ohio, the first weekend in June each year. Since my 2nd year in school, I attended every Ordination leading up to mine (in 2003) and many since. It's really an incredible thing to witness these rabbinical students turning into rabbis right before our eyes.

In true Cincinnati fashion, the ceremonies are a celebration not only of these rabbinical students, but also of the whole heritage of Reform Judaism that stems from that small city on the border between North and South. Cincinnati, Ohio is truly the birthplace of Reform Judaism where Isaac Mayer Wise founded his synagogue, seminary, and most of the institutions that today comprise the backbone of the modern Reform movement. He was quite a visionary, really creating a "minhag America" - an American custom - that endures today. (Minhag America was the name that Wise gave to the prayerbook he composed.)

Ordination takes place at the historic Plum Street Temple, an incredible structure in downtown Cincinnati that is at once living Judaism and living museum. It is gloriously restored, much of the original parts like flooring and pews and lecterns still a part of it, and used regularly and lovingly by the Wise Temple community. There is a great deal of pomp and procession, a service unlike any other, and a moving ceremony in which each student stands before the open Ark as the President of the College-Institute places his hands on their heads in ancient blessing.

(interior shot of the beautifully painted ceilings inside Plum Street Temple)
The exterior of the Moorish-style building

Following the Ordination services, the 1000+ attendees stream onto Plum Street, which is closed off for the occasion. The Ordinees hug and greet their families, friends, teachers, and colleagues.

Zeh ha-yom asa Adonai, nagila v'nismicha vo.
This is the day that God has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118)

It was truly an honor for me to be present, to recall the moment of my own ordination, and to welcome my friends as colleagues. May they be blessed in their endeavors and may the work of their hands and hearts be fruitful.

(More Summer Stock Photography here....)


Robin said...

What a beautiful building, it reminds me a bit of the Great Synagogue in Budapest.

Thank you for sharing your special day with us.

Leigh Ann said...

SO stunning! Welcome new rabbis! How great to have so many awesome new colleagues.