- the study of past events, particularly in human affairs.
- the whole series of past events connected with someone or something.
I might reword the second definition to include the phrase “shared memories”. I know that when the subject of history comes up, I think to myself, “oh no, I can never remember the dates of various wars, inventions, and so on” but, I never fail to recognize the importance of history. Being knowledgeable of history can help us understand current events, avoid repeating mistakes, and provide context to our lives. As Jews, we hold one of the longest histories in the world which we first start learning of through the study of Torah. Later, we learn of the Exodus from Egypt, the Inquisitions, the Holocaust and the existence of the state of Israel. I cannot even start naming the myriad of Jewish people who have shaped our history throughout the ages (I would just “Google” them). The understanding of this history is crucial to understanding how and why we try to live our lives in a proper Jewish manner and serves as a critical foundation. If you are like me, however, I find comfort in knowing my place in this complex world and a substantial portion of this place lies in my history with Congregation Emanuel.
My history with Congregation Emanuel goes back almost thirty years but, as we all know, Congregation Emanuel has a much longer history of which Dr. Elliot Vizel, one of our former presidents, had so eloquently documented in 2012, upon the 120th Anniversary of the Consecration of the Sanctuary. This rich history goes beyond defining the congregation spreading into both the community of Statesville and North Carolina in general. This document recalls our religious school and the sizeable number of people who contributed vast amounts of time and energy into all areas of the synagogue over the years. Thanks to Hanna Adler’s meticulous scrapbooking and our new partnership with the Jewish Community Legacy Foundation, our history is being properly archived for posterity.
Fortunately, we have so many wonderful members who continue to contribute and do so with loving and open hearts. This is where my “shared memories” come from; helping teach Hebrew with the religious school, my son making his bar-mitzvah on the bimah, my youngest daughter receiving her Hebrew name as an infant, multitudes of beautiful cards and letters from Hanna Adler, Purim plays and carnivals, community Seders, my friends’ children making their bar/bat mitzvahs, Chanukah parties, visits from Steve Kerbel, the Rabbinical Fellows, Mitch Siegel’s beautiful voice as Cantor, Shimshon blowing the shofar so loud and long that his face is beet red. I could go on endlessly, but I hope instead that you might think of your shared memories with Congregation Emanuel.
Writing this has reminded me that history is not just what has been narrated or documented, it is a living thing (and yes, it does repeat itself) and we are all taking part in shaping our history in an on-going basis. This thinking leads me to question not only how I can better shape my personal history but my shared history with Congregation Emanuel as they are now truly intertwined forever. I think I will do this by making more shared memories with you.
May this New Year be filled with only good health, simcha (joy) and sweetness.
“Ketivah v’chatima tovah” (כתיבה וחתימה טובה) “A good inscription and sealing in the Book of Life.”