Passing the Baton
Temple Shalom – May/June 2017 Bulletin
Rabbi Bill S. Tepper
Among the highlights of being a spectator at a track-and-field meet is the relay race, where a baton is passed
from one runner to another. It’s a competition during which – for some reason – I find myself rooting for every
runner on every team. How we groan when witnessing one of the batons inadvertently fall to the ground. I
suppose I’m one of those rare sports fans who – when it comes to the relay race - wishes that every team might
However, my most recent visit to Temple Shalom as your rabbi provided us in the congregation with winning
experiences in passing the baton and successful endeavours in extending our beautiful traditions of worship,
learning and Jewish living to the up-and-coming generation of community members and leaders.
On Friday evening April 21, prior to the regular Kabbalat/Erev Shabbat service, students representing both
Sunday morning’s Irma Penn School of Jewish Learning and Wednesday’s Hebrew school participated in a
special ‘PJ Shabbat Service’ involving their recitation of our liturgy, singing our songs and presenting – with
enthusiastic performance skills – a Jewish story to each other and their parents. The event was a memorable
experience in sharing the Judaism we love.
On Sunday morning April 23, I attended the Irma Penn School to assist students in preparing for another
opportunity to inherit our tradition of welcoming Shabbat: the Youth Shabbat Service taking place at Temple
Shalom on June 2. On that evening Irma Penn and Hebrew school students, in addition to the post-B’nai
Mitzvah adolescents, will participate in our evening service. They will guide us through the siddur, lead us in
song, and offer their commentaries/reflections pertaining to Shabbat, Torah, being Jewish and the celebration of
And passing the baton continued into the Sunday afternoon of my visit. During an enjoyable lunch [at one of
Winnipeg’s many excellent dining locales!], the post-B’nai Mitzvah adolescents and I discussed affliating with
NFTY – the North American Federation of Temple Youth. As I know from my son Max’s experience, this is an
important step for our adolescents. Through NFTY, they will connect with their peers in Reform Jewish
communities throughout Canada and the United States. They will engage over issues of concern within the
Reform Movement and of importance to both Jews and non-Jews everywhere. And they will set the stage for
their future roles as leaders and exemplars of Jewish community life.
I cannot overstate the magnitude of encouraging the future generations of our Jewish community; of providing
the best of conditions wherein our youth will learn, grow and assume positions of responsibility, and of ‘relaying’
to them all that is sacred and valued in our Judaism. It means passing the baton in the most winning of ways.
Rabbi Bill Tepper was live with Nadai Kidwai of CBC Radio Winnipeg. Enjoy the story of our "Flying Rabbi"...
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