September 10, 2010

Happy New Year, Ya'All

NEW IBERIA, LA - I've been in synagogues all over the country and around the world, but rarely stray far from home for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. So when we booked Jet Blue's All You Can Jet passes and decided to spend the first week in Southern Louisiana, I realized this would be a perfect opportunity to join the small congregation in New Iberia, where the Jewish families my husband grew up with worshipped.

We'd walked around the outside of Gates of Prayer on our last trip and recognized many of the names memorialized on the stained glass windows, including the Wormsers, who owned clothing stores in Franklin, Jeanerette and New Iberia. But the building is open only for worship, and we were in New Iberia for lunch on a weekday.

The congregation was founded in 1897, and by 1904 the synagogue was built, in large part due to the generosity of many Catholics in the town. It’s a beautiful building, lovingly cared for by its dwindling membership.

The congregation may be small, but John and I could not have asked for a warmer welcome. We may have come as strangers, but we left as friends, and hope we’ll be able to return again, soon. (Yes Carla, we will call ahead next time!)

In his Rosh Hashanah sermon, Rabbi Peter Rubinstein of the very large Central Synagogue in New York City spoke  of the small congregations that survive from the determination that Jewish life will not die in their community. Rabbi Rubenstein suggested that his congregation partner with such a congregation, and urged his members to stop by whenever they are within hundreds of miles of one.

So if you're ever in Louisiana for Shabbat, I hope you'll stop in New Iberia and lend your voice to the prayer. I am glad that John and I decided to be at Gates of Prayer on Rosh Hashanah.

That said, its good to be home and that where I’ll be, at Larchmont Temple, this Yom Kippur.

May the New Year be a good year, a peaceful year, for you, your family and your loved ones, where ever you may be.

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