by David Silver
(Calgary) – “Rabbi and Community: A Match made in heaven” was a message circulating the Carriage House Inn on February 9 as House of Jacob Mikveh Israel celebrated the inauguration of Rabbi Binyomin and Malka Halpern as its spiritual leaders.
In the midst of a jovial audience of synagogue members and friends, HOJMI began a new chapter in its 110 year history of serving Calgary’s Jewish community. Rabbi Halpern embraced the opportunity ahead of him to build HOJMI as a destination for Jewish living.
“We will meet Jews at their level of connection to Judaism” said Rabbi Halpern. “HOJMI is a place where all Jews must be made to feel welcome”.
Building on the theme of unity was guest speaker Rabbi Aryeh Rockove. Visiting from Queens NY to make his address, Rabbi Rockove encouraged HOJMI to include every one of its members in the task of making a great synagogue.
“You are fortunate to have a community whose members come with them a diversity of talent” said Rabbi Rockove. “It is your duty to ensure that every individual is reminded of their importance and given an opportunity to serve”
Rabbi Rockove went on to advise HOJMI to think outside the box, accept that failure does happen, and pray for divine assistance. Lessons spoken from experience as someone who has served his own congregation as rabbi for the past 35 years.
A further highlight of the evening was a tribute to community members who committed themselves to making after life gifts via the Life and Legacy program. 28 donors were given drawings prepared by children of HOJMI. These framed works illustrated scenes of nature whose beauty was fitting for the day they were given…Tu B’Shevat.
“Considering the evening was also Tu B’Shevat, a time for growth and renewal, the analogy used of husband and wife relationship to describe the partnership between Rabbi and Synagogue was appropriate” expressed a guest. “The time is now to begin nurturing this relationship and to ensure both grow strong”
The evening was not all business. The crowd of approximately 120 people were entertained by MC Gary Silberg whose jokes had them laughing in between the courses of tomato soup and chocolate cake. A video tribute to the HOJMI community showed many members smiling and dancing to many events which took place during the year.
Guests walked away from the gala dinner with a sense of optimism and hope. Looking inwards, a sense of patience was discovered to learn about the other, respect differences, and offer forgiveness when mistakes are made.
Community members are invited to visit HOJMI and take part in the journey of growth. It’s location, adjacent to the JCC, makes HOJMI a can’t miss destination for everyone. May HOJMI go from success to success.