Rosh Hashanah Greetings: Why Melanie Cohen and Her Family Joined
(Rosh Hashanah Family Community Service, Sept. 30, 2019)
Happy New Year! Shanah Tovah! My name is Melanie Cohen. I want to speak today about why my family and I chose Temple Shalom and what has kept us here for almost 15 years.
From being a grandchild of Holocaust survivors to a die-hard URJ Eisner camper, Judaism has defined much of my history. Growing up in a town that had very few Jews in it, though, I also know what it was like to feel different for being Jewish. I knew I wanted my children to be part of a robust Jewish community, the type I knew from my family and camp, to help support them when they were in the minority.
When my now-wife and I first moved to the DC area, we started looking for a synagogue for the high holidays. Where to go was a big question. We needed a place that would accept us as a lesbian interfaith couple. We found that and so much more at Temple Shalom. We became members, were married in this very sanctuary, and now have kids in the Religious School.
After our oldest daughter, Beatrice, was born, we started coming for Tot Shabbat. In those days, she would yell “Juice!” as we drove up to Temple. Once we realized she was yelling “Juice” and not “Jews,” we knew we had found what made Shabbat special for her. Juice and don’t forget the Oreo cookies!
Soon thereafter we started Kids Time, while our daughter was finding her best friends in the class, we became close with the parents and started a Shabbat Chavurah group, most of whom are coming over for dinner in about . . . an hour! Our weekends began quickly filling up with Temple Shalom activities. When our second daughter, Ruth was born, I remember the excitement of bringing her to Tot Shabbat for the first time at only 1 month and a year later she took her first step at a First Friday potluck after Tot Shabbat to the cheers of most of our closest friends.
Six years after we started in Kids Time, I am now the Kids Time teacher. Kids Time is for children ages birth – 3, open for everyone (non-members and members) to come play and learn, from 9:15-10:45 on Sundays. We would love for more children to join us! And while your little one is playing, there is Religious School for children 3 and up. Come see the magic at our Religious School open house on November 3, however you are welcome to register earlier.
In addition to religious school, Temple Shalom now has its own Early Learning Center (ELC), which provides full time care for children from age one through pre-kindergarten. I felt like such the “insider” this past week when a colleague needed a last-minute childcare change. I told her I had the Director of the ELC in my phone and could probably get her a tour that day. I could, she did, and they are finishing up the paperwork!
Almost 15 years since my wife and I came for high holidays, she has served on more committees than I have. We have found the community I wanted. One that includes my family with open arms. One that grows a love of Judaism in my children. One that has become a second home for us. I hope to see all of you again in this fabulous temple home we have on Yom Kippur, where we again have a community family service in the afternoon.