Meet a Few Clergy of Color Leading Us Into 5783
These Be’chol Lashon bloggers are taking to the bimah for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur
Across the world, Jews are preparing for the High Holidays. We bring our whole selves as we welcome the new year on Rosh Hashanah and reflect on Yom Kippur, and the clergy help guide these experiences. Be’chol Lashon reached out to a few of our bloggers who are also clergy to find out their plans for the leading High Holiday services. If you’re looking for a home for the holidays, you can join many of these great clergy of color for their services online.
These days Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein can most often be found creating policy and programming on race and diversity for Jewish Federations of North America. During the High Holy Day, he will lead services for Yom Kippur in Harlem and be part of the team leading the Sukkot festival at Isabella Friedman.
In Richmond, PA, Cantor Cantor Annelise Ocanto-Romo will be bringing her lifelong passion for music and community to the services at Ohev Shalom of Bucks County. For information about participating, be in touch with the community to learn more about participating.
Rabbi Juan Mejia, whose work with Spanish-speaking communities has contributed much to the global Jewish world, will serve as the cantor at Emanuel Synagogue in Oklahoma City. He will be assisting his wife, Rabbi Abbi Jacobson. They encourage those interested in attending to reach out to the synagogue.
Rabbi Braham David and Rabbi Erik Uriarte are in new pulpits this year. Rabbi David’s community Beth Elohim in Acton, MA. is glad to welcome members and non-members to its online streaming services. Further south in Columbia, SC, at Tree of Life, Rabbi Uriarte will be focusing on T’shuvah, the Jewish process of return and repentance, throughout the High Holy Day season. He explains, “This year we are focusing on Teshuvah in all its forms: atonement, return, and answers. How is Teshuvah a unique concept that goes beyond simply “seeking forgiveness?” How can we use this as a model to be our best selves, return to Jewish life as close to pre-pandemic as possible, and seek answers for the questions we have now and through 5783?”
Rabbi Jason Navares of Beth Israel in San Diego will participate in all the services over the holidays. Members and non-members are invited to request tickets. On Rosh Hashanah, he will speak about Losing Ourselves and Finding Our Way Back, and on Yom Kippur about Woundedness: Our Yom Kippur Superpower.
There is also a range of rabbinical students who we also want to include in this list. Student Healy Slackman is the rabbinic intern at Kolot Chayeinu in Brooklyn, NY. She will be participating in the main services, which are free to all in person or online. Additionally, this 5th-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College in New York, passionate about food and music, is participating in a virtual Sephardic Seder on Sunday, September 18th at 7 pm EST.
Another HUC rabbinic student Shoshana Nambi hails from Uganda. Nambi has a passion for working with young people; She has written a children’s book about Sukkot and will lead the teen services at Rodef Shalom in New York City.
Rabbinic student Rebecca Orantes just began her second year of studies and her first at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. This native of Guatemala City, who is a leader of Congregation Adat Israel, will bring her passion for Judaism and her artistic and musical talents to Congregation Brith Sholem in Ogden, Utah, throughout the coming year and including the High Holidays.
Koach Baruch Fraiser, known as KB, is a student at the Reconstuctionist Rabbinical College. For the High Holy Days, KB will be joining the team Kol Tzedek in Philadelphia, PA. Throughout the season KB will be part of the music and drumming that will uplift the service as well as leading elements of the prayers. Don’t miss out on the second day of Rosh Hashana when KB will be doing the sermon. All are invited to register to take part, whether in person or from afar.
Those interested in finding services in the Sephardic tradition should consult the listing of the Sephardic Brotherhood.