Monday, October 7, 2013

Who's coming through the "Door" at Lakeside?

The "Door"
Hayam Salomon
Hayam Salomon in Chicago
This year at Lakeside Congregation we have a door on the Bimah and every Sunday morning at 10:00 am when T'filah are scheduled to begin our Mad Scientist, AKA as Noah Whiteman, helps to bring a new character from American Jewish history through the door.  We began with Hayam Salomon, (Bill Goodman) who helped finance the Revolutionary War AND has a statue in Chicago at Wacker and Wabash with George Washington.    

We invite our guest to stay and pray with us; and those guests who have been from the 1700-1800's so far are very surprised to see that we pray with men and and women sitting together, have someone playing guitar and have a siddur in English and Hebrew. They are very pleased to see the future of American Jewry.  They are very happy to see that American Jewry is alive and well in 2013.

 After Hayam Salomon we went back even farther in time and brought back Asser Levy, (Michael Schaffer). Asser Levy was one of the first Jewish settlers of the Durch colony of New Amsterdam on Manhatten Island. He was also the first  Jew to own a house in the New World, to be a solider in the army and to the first Jewish Butcher.  You can see him with his butcher's apron below.

Asser Levy and our Mad Scientist
  Rebecca Gratz, (Emily Crane), was our next visiter and she  helped to establish the first Sunday school, for which all of my students were very thankful. At the age of 20 in 1801 she helped to found the Female Association for the Relief of Woman and Children in Reduced Circumstances.  Later on her family founded Gratz College which is still in Philadelphia today.  She was astonished to see me lead t'filot in pants but I think we won her over.

Before we our guest goes back into time to finish their important work they sign our door and we sing them back into time.  We have a wonderful song, composed and sung by our own Adam Kahan, Dor L'Dor (from generation to Generation and a pun on Door) We want to make sure all our guests get back in time to complete their work and make their mark on history.  We also put their picture on our website with a short biography to help us remember them.

Besides our students learning about Jewish history, this project is a wonderful way to include parents and congregants in a weekly project.  The costumes are simple and wigs or hats go a long way every week.   I plan on raiding the local Halloween stores early on November 1st this year.
Rebecca Gratz

This idea was originally the brain child of Anne Stein at Congregation Etz Chaim in Lombard.  This year Anne and I have shared this project and have a wonderful time planning together.  We are looking forward to a fun year of costumes, characters and congregants.