What do five rabbis, five cantors, and five members of military families have in common? They all participated in this year’s annual shared Selichot services, held on Saturday night, August 31. For about two decades, the Conservative congregations of South Hampton Roads have joined together to begin the Selichot prayers of forgiveness to prepare for the upcoming High Holidays. The service location rotates among the synagogues; the host synagogue prepares a program and is responsible for organizing the service. This year’s program was hosted by Kehillat Bet Hamidrash/Kempsville Conservative Synagogue.
The evening began with a panel discussion entitled, “The Committed Conservative Jew in Today’s Military.” Dr. David and Karen Rosenberg, Kareem Shaw, Benjamin Simon, and Dr. Marty Snyder, answered a variety of questions about how their personal lives, Jewish practice, and beliefs impacted on their role in the military and vice versa. It was an engaging, often entertaining, and thought-provoking discussion and KBH co-president Jason Silverstein, who was the panel moderator, even after an hour, had a hard time finding a good stopping point. Perhaps (former) navy wife, Karen Rosenberg provided the best place when she compared the Tidewater community with other communities where they had lived, commending everyone for being supportive and welcoming and expressing appreciation for this area.
After Silverstein acknowledged everyone in attendance who served America, the group recited A Prayer for our Soldiers, written by Rabbi Jerome Epstein of the USCJ. It was a fitting and moving tribute to the service personnel.
Following a brief break for a beautiful reception chaired by Rona Proser and Ed Landress, the attendees reassembled for the spiritual part of the evening. After a welcome by Cantor David Proser of KBH, Rabbi Marc Kraus of Temple Emanuel delivered an illustrative d’var torah to help set the mood. The first beautiful, stirring musical piece was provided by Cantor Michael Horwitz, Chaplain resident at Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center, and the spiritual melodies continued with the voices of Cantor Proser, Cantor Elihu Flax of Beth Sholoom Village, Cantor Larry Tiger of Temple Israel, and Cantor Gordon Piltch of Congregation Beth El. Rabbi David Goldstein of Gomley Chesed and Rabbi David Barnett led readings, while Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz of Congregation Beth El and Rabbi Michael Panitz of Temple Israel led readings and provided explanations of the source and role of the liturgy.
As everyone assembled left for their homes and to ready themselves for High Holiday services in their individual congregations, there was a strong feeling of unity as well as an appreciation for all that the community offers.
Judy White, KBH ritual chair, and her committee organized the evening.
by Alene Kaufman