Rabbi Lisa Helps with West Virginia Congregation
Rabbi Lisa Edwards and her wife Tracy just got back from West Virginia where our Rabbi helped install BCC’s former student rabbi, Rabbi Joe Hample, in his post at Etz Chayim (Tree of Life) congregation in Morgantown. The local newspaper published a wonderful article about him on the front page of the Sunday edition.
Some things in life take their own divine direction — planning, gridding and formulating, be damned. Look at that proverb, and yo u ’ll know why all those people were literally dancing in the aisles Friday night at Morgantown’s Tree of Life Congre gation, on South High Street. Members of the synagogue gathered during the Shabbat service to take the first step in the formal installation of their leader, Rabbi Joe Hample. The synagogue serves mainly WVU academics and other professionals. The deal was sealed Saturday morning when Tree of Life’s leadership officially unscrolled the Torah, the written law of the Jewish faith that also makes up the first five books of the Bible, and placed it in Hample’s hands.
Hample gives province to that “Man plans” proverb by his very resume. He’s a Harvard-educated Russian scholar-turned Wells Fargo computer analyst who didn’t de- cide to become a rabbi until he was 40.
Growing up in Larchmont, N.Y., his household wasn’t a particularly religious one, he remembered. The inevitable, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question didn’t set any bushes ablaze, he said.
“I never thought to say, ‘I’d like to a rabbi in West Vi r g i n i a , ’ ” he said, as the audience chuckled. “These things just happen.”
While Friday and Saturday’s ceremonies were planned down to the prayer, in many ways, it seemed like the proceedings “just happened” too. The moments that were as serious as Moses on the Mount were offset by ad-libbed interludes as gloriously silly as a clarinet solo in a Klezmer band. That’s how members wanted it. “It’s a celebration,” said Richard Cohen, who helped plan the proceedings. “It’s meant to be joyful.”
Rabbi Lisa Edwards, his mentor at Temple Beth Chayim Chadashim, was among family and friends who traveled to Morgantown for the weekend. She laughed out at loud at his observation of life at Temple Beth and smiled and shook her head in admiration as the rabbi recounted his prison work. “I’m here to make sure you know what you’ve got,” she told the Tree of Life congregants.