The Rhode Island Jewish community is small. As a result, we’ve often seen synagogues struggle with financial problems, combine or disappear. But this year, there’s a new congregation in the community. The West Bay Community Jewish Center has grown out of the idea that there has to be a different model to keep up membership and help a congregation moving forward.

According to Rabbi Richard Perlman, one of the leaders of the new community, the “a la carte model” of membership should appeal to those who haven’t been part of a congregation due to financial concerns as well as traditionalists looking for an alternative.

Nave GedjNave GedjCamp is over and summer shaliach Nave Gedj is leaving. She will spend some time in New York City, then return to Israel, where she will move to Tel Aviv and start school at the Rimon School of Music.

She’s had a great experience, she said, and hopes to someday return to the U.S. to see more of the country. Her dream is to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

And so we say “l’hitraot.”

Candace PowningCandace PowningThroughout my schooling, religious and otherwise, I have gone through many iterations of Holocaust lessons. So when I began thinking of going on March of the Living, I couldn’t help but wonder how it would affect me. After all, years of classroom lessons add up – what else was there to know? However, for me, the impact of the journey cannot be measured in gained knowledge.

As the trip drew near, there was much energy that accompanied flying more than 20 high-schoolers halfway across the world. The whole delegation, our parents included, were educated in preparation so that we would be anchored by the security of emotional and physical well-being. As we began our time in Poland, visiting some of the world’s most horrific sites, I regretted trying to fit my emotional reaction into the boundaries of my expectations. I worried that my historical knowledge of the Holocaust prevented me from feeling the impact of actually being there. But what I learned was that this type of journey affects each participant differently.

Rabbi Elyse WechtermanRabbi Elyse WechtermanRabbi Elyse Wechterman  recently accepted an offer from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association to be their executive director. Wechterman says she is “feeling blessed to be able to play this role.” 

She admits to being a little nervous, since every new endeavor brings some anxiety, but quickly adds that the feeling is accompanied by excitement and a sense of possibility.

Wechterman believes that her experience as spiritual leader of Congregation Agudas Achim, in Attleboro, from 2001 until last year, has prepared her for this new opportunity. She says, “Thirteen years as a pulpit rabbi has given me support to experience so many varieties of Jewish questions and concerns. I have a sense of where Jewish people are in the world. I hope my experience will enable me to bring the perspective of who we are serving.”

Gloria FeibishGloria FeibishThe phone rings so you look at the caller ID. You don’t recognize the number, but you grudgingly decide to pick it up. On the line is Gloria Feibish, calling on behalf of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island. It is dinnertime, so you are a little perturbed, but because you really like Gloria, you decide to listen to what she has to say. She thanks you for your previous gifts to the Alliance, and wonders if you can increase your donation this year because the needs in our community are growing. You decide that you can do that. She thanks you, and you return to your dinner table.