Cantor’s Column – February 2022

Celebrating Love

Cantor Ilan Davidson

As we enter into the month of February, it seems appropriate to discuss the topic of celebrating love. In the past, you have read my article about a little-known holiday, the Jewish Valentine’s Day, T’u B’Av, which takes place in the summer. I also wrote about how, as Jews, we have at least two opportunities to celebrate love, if we choose to celebrate both T’u B’Av and this month, Valentine’s Day. At the end of the article, I said, “why not just celebrate those we love every day that we have them, for love is one of the greatest gifts, and we should be thankful for it every day.”

As we celebrate this Centennial year of Temple Beth El, we have many opportunities to celebrate all kinds of love. Some of us may have met the one we love, right here at TBE. Others may celebrate the love of life-long friends they met at TBE. While still more may celebrate their love of Judaism, inspired by TBE. Whatever the love you have discovered at Temple Beth El, I want to encourage you to reminisce about it starting this month, while many others are celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Indeed, as I think about the coming non-Jewish holiday of love, I reminisce about my many love stories at Temple Beth El. Starting with my first class of 7th grade students, an unruly bunch of 23 pre-teens. They were the reason I came to Temple Beth El. Rabbi Seth Hochberg-Miller hired me to tame this challenging class, and in the process, he changed my life for the better. It was during that year that I met the most incredible group of people, including the Skolls and the Byers baking hamantaschen for Sisterhood. Bob Byer was the president of the congregation, and he had heard about me through Susan Goldstein, among others, and encouraged me to apply for the Cantorial position. I went through the interview and later got to know one of the most generous friends I have ever had, Rabbi David Lieb, z”l. That was this time of year, 28 years ago. From there my love for this community grew. The rest, as they say, is history.

You all have the opportunity to share your first memories about Temple Beth El, this month, through the Megilla Program. I hope you will share your stories and tell us about your first memories at Temple Beth El, using the link in our weekly emails. I hope that just as I have shared in this bulletin article, you will all take this opportunity to open the window into your introduction to Temple Beth El. May we all celebrate this Valentine’s Day by sharing with our community.