I am a proud past Sisterhood President and past WRJ North American Board member. In my sisterhood, I try at least once a year to show one of the YES fund videos and ask people to raise their hand if any of the areas mentioned have touched them or a family member. At one of those times, my daughter, Molly, was with me and later said, “I think I raised my hand for everything!” Molly was active in our temple youth group, NFTY Regional Board, attended URJ Camp Newman as a camper and a CIT, attended the EIE semester in Israel program, and eventually decided to become a rabbi and attended HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. She was aware and proud of the many contributions of WRJ to these programs and organizations that shaped her Jewish life.
After her ordination in 2015, she worked for five happy years as the Rabbi Educator at Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame, CA. I became dear friends with many of their sisterhood members during my visits to her congregation, and she received a warm welcome from them. Then last year, our temple in Bellevue had an opening for a Rabbi Educator. After much discussion, she applied and was offered this position in the congregation where she grew up. Phew! Starting a new position during COVID, even at a place you know, isn’t easy! And there are challenges when some of the congregants have known you since kindergarten. She has worked with our senior rabbi to create all the virtual services and programs that other congregations are doing. And she’s finding creative ways to connect with our congregation, especially the members she didn’t know when she left over ten years ago.
I have so much fun attending virtual services that she leads and taking some of her classes like weekly lunchtime Talmud study, a 10-part half-hour class on the morning blessings. I also serve on our temple “Green Team,” which she started. Our Green Team has launched a Climate Justice series tied to Counting the Omer. Every week, she puts out a guide with the theme for the week, and she records a 5-minute video each night with a short message or story on the music and the blessing. I recorded one with her last week talking about food waste and the movie “Just Eat It.” Other team members are collaborating on the videos, too, on topics such as electric vehicles. These are all on our temple Facebook page for easy access, along with a weekly series she and our Musician in Residence offer called “Tefilah Tidbits on Tuesdays,” introducing new melodies. Yes, you can tell I’m proud!
While starting a new position during COVID is hard, one benefit of moving all programming to virtual has the opportunity to participate in many excellent programs, whether they are being taught by your daughter or one of many other fabulous teachers from around the world. There is a fine line to walk in being the mother of one of your synagogue’s rabbis, but oh, so many joys (not to mention having the grandchildren nearby)!
Robin Plotnik is a member and past president of Temple B’nai Torah Sisterhood in Bellevue, WA, and a past congregational president. She served on the WRJ North American Board, was co-chair of the 2020 Fried Women’s Conference, and is now a member of WRJ's Chai Society. Her daughter, Rabbi Molly Weisel, is Associate Rabbi at Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue, WA.
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