Not long after Har Sinai Congregation merged with Temple Oheb Shalom, the new congregation was hit with the pandemic, placing severe limitations on the new community’s ability to gather face to face. With the pandemic hopefully waning, Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Congregation is preparing more than a month’s worth of celebrations, which include installation ceremonies for its inaugural rabbi and cantor.
Scheduled to last for more than a month, the festival will commence on May 13 and end June 18. The installation of the inaugural clergy will be a focus of the festival. Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi’s installation is set for May 13-14, while Cantor Alexandra S. Fox’s is scheduled for June 17-18.
“The Festival of Installation is a celebration of the HSOSC community including the installation of our inaugural clergy team,” said Katie Applefeld, chair of Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom’s Festival of Installation, in an email.
Sabath’s installation weekend will include a special Friday night service with Rabbi Jonathan Cohen, currently the senior rabbi of The Temple-Tifereth Israel, a Reform congregation in Beachwood, Ohio, and Rabbi Mary Zamore, the executive director of Women’s Rabbinic Network. A congregational Shabbat dinner will follow. On that Saturday, there will also be a special Shabbat morning study session, a lunch and learn and a family Havdalah.
Fox’s installation weekend will have its own special Friday night service, said Applefeld, which will include Cantor Richard Cohn, the director of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. It will feature a congregational Shabbat dinner, a special Shabbat morning service with the HSOSC band and a musical Havdalah.
The festival will also include a June 3 special Shabbat service with the band Kol B’Seder, which Applefeld called a “mainstay on the American Jewish scene for decades, erasing boundaries and divisions, uniting the Jewish community.”
There will be a June 5 visit from Ambassador Rabbi David Saperstein, who served as the United States’ ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom. He will serve for the day as the scholar-in-residence and help kick off the synagogue’s series, “Distinguished Voices: An Inspiring Speaker Series on World Jewry Presented by Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Congregation.”
HSOSC will be visited by another scholar-in-residence on June 14, when it welcomes Natan Sharansky, an Israeli politician and former chairman of the Executive for the Jewish Agency who spent nine years in Soviet prisons as a refusenik. Sharansky will also be speaking in the Distinguished Voices series.
Most of the events are open to the greater community, and there is programming for all ages, Applefeld said.
“We are a new community, and of course, once we merged, not too long after that there was the pandemic,” Applefeld said. “This is really an opportunity for people to feel part of the community, for people to be proud of what we’ve created, to celebrate our new inaugural clergy and really for people to reconnect.”