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RABBI'S COMMENTARY

Terumah: Enthroned Upon the Cherubim

“[In the building of the Holy Ark of the Covenant,] you shall fashion two cherubim of beaten
gold, and mount them at either end of the golden lid of the Ark. Make one cherub at one end, and
the other cherub at the other. Use the same gold for the cherubim as you do for the lid; fasten the
cherubim to the lid, so that they all become one piece. The cherubim shall have their wings
spread out... their faces shall look down at the lid. ...There will I, your LORD GOD, meet with
[the Israelites]...and command you concerning My Torah.”

--Exodus 25: 18-22 (adaptation mine)
I was floating in an immense sea of light: praising, praising, ever praising the Lord God,
Hallelujah! Blessed be His Name.... My wings beat softly, my hands were palms-out-and-up,
ready to give (we angels—we cherubim—give all we can to the Almighty, and to His creations).
My heart—do I have a heart?—was beating so hard for my love of God, that it felt as though it
would spring out of my chest. I was at peace, utter and ultimate peace, Shalom. I—
“Psst!”
I was jarred out of my reverie by that odd noise—no one had ever “psst” at me, before. I opened
my eyes, shook my head free from the Vision in which I had been immersed. I opened my eyes,
looked up, and saw—Myself. My twin. He was grinning at me: what sort of cherub grins?
Cherubim are supposed to be praising, praising, ever praising the Lord. We....
“My name is Ketaniel, the ‘Child of God,’” said the twin. “Lonely here, isn’t it?”
What chutzpah! I decided to put this upstart in his place, forthwith.
“We can’t be lonely,” I answered, “We are angels. Angels have no emotions; that would make us
human, which we most decidedly are not. I would rather be celestial than mortal. Our job is—”
“I know all that,” said my twin, “for I was only recently born of heavenly aether, and Raphael,
the Archangel-on-Duty that cosmic day, instructed me in what I can do, and not do. Still, I
thought—”
“Angels do not think, hold opinions, or question,” I said.
“Yes, yes,” said Ketaniel, “I know all of that, too. Still, I had been hoping to be part of a larger
flock of us—”
“Coming,” I corrected him, “The word for a group of us is ‘A Coming of Angels.’ And what’s so
bad about there being just the two of us? We can certainly get along. And then, there’s the
Maximum Honor—”
“—Of being God’s footstool,” responded the Other. “Yes, I know. Raphael told me. Still, that
does seem a stodgy sort of duty, isn’t it?”

I was amazed at this one’s nerve. This was going too far.
“How about just doing as you are told?” I asked, not unkindly, “We angels do not question. That
is for the Humans to do—not that it ever does them any good. Well, perhaps a little. But mostly
not.”
“What’s wrong with questioning?” Ketaniel questioned, “After all, I might have protested being
part of a piece of furniture—this Ark of the Covenant, in particular—had I not been starstruck at
my audience with Raphael. His voice is gentle, and he is so kind! All I did, therefore, was nod
when he told me, ‘And you, Ketaniel, shall be part of God’s holiest object, and Israel’s proudest
possession! You and another angel—”
“That would be me,” I said, beginning to soften to this upstart cherub, “And you are, indeed,
correct, to a certain extent. The job we cherubim hold is to carry the prayers of Humanity to God
Himself—we carry them on our backs.”
“Though we will be unable to do that, if we are glued to a Golden Box,” said Ketaniel,
mournfully. “If I could only fly—”
“If you had the wings of an angel, you mean,” I grinned. After all, I thought, we will be linked
together for Eternity, and so might as well get along.
“...So we must find something to do,” said Ketaniel, “just to occupy both the time and our
minds—what minds we angels have, that is.”
“Should we not be reciting all of God’s ninety-nine Names?” I suggested.
He shrugged. “Might as well,” he said, “I’ll start: Elohim.”
“That is God’s attribute of Justice,” I said. “That one is easy. Here’s one for you: Adonoi.”
“God’s Mercy,” he smiled. “And now, you: ReBeSheh.”
“That is the acronym for ‘God, the Sovereign of the Universe,’” I said....
And so have the days, months, aeons passed, with the two of us exchanging Godly Names, asking
one another questions of Torah, and bearing up a bit when we feel God’s Presence hovering
over us. Ketaniel can be obnoxious; that is the way of the world, and the World of Angels. But I
am a match for him.
Which is all to the Good.
After all, we will be together, under God’s Grace, forever. We help to protect Humanity.
Amen and Amen!

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OUR RABBI - David Hartley Mark

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Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Rabbi David Hartley Mark was born in New York City, and grew up on the Lower East Side, that legendary Jewish immigrant neighborhood, attending Hebrew Day School. He was first from his school, the East Side Torah Center, to attend Yeshiva University High School for Boys—Manhattan. David attended Yeshiva University, where he attained a BA in English Literature, a BS in Bible and Jewish Education, and a Hebrew Teacher’s Diploma (HTD). He spent his third year of college at Bar Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel, where he developed a fluency in Hebrew, and toured around the country. He has also attained a Certificate in Advanced Jewish School Administration from the Hebrew College in Brookline, MA.

David attended the City University of New York Graduate Center, where he earned an MA degree from Queens College, as well as an M.Phil. degree, majoring in 17th Century English, specializing in the work of John Milton, as well as the Romantic Poets. A year teaching Hebrew School in a Reform temple in Brooklyn convinced him of his great love of Judaism, and he began attending the Academy for Jewish Religion, Yonkers, NY, where he was ordained a rabbi in 1980.

 

He met Anbeth, who was hired as temple secretary the same day he was hired to teach. They were married in 1978. They have two grown children, Tyler and Jordan, as well as a grandson, Aidan.

 

Rabbi Mark served pulpits in Warren, NJ, Fayetteville, NC, and Portsmouth, NH, in which last pulpit he spent 22 years, a record for that state. Seeking warmer climes, as well as closer family members, he and Anbeth took the pulpit of Temple Sholom in 2009. He also fulfilled a lifetime dream of teaching English at Keiser University in Ft. Lauderdale.  

 

OUR CANTOR - ANITA SCHUBERT

 

Cantor Anita Schubert, grew up in Queens and Lynbrook in New York, says it was a combination of her love for both singing and religion that led her to train to become a cantor. “I grew up in a conservative synagogue. My parents weren’t super religious,” she said. “I started going to shabbat services and never stopped. I learned the musical chants . . . all the right stuff. I picked it up and was able to lead services as well. When I was a teenager I was asked to be one of the adult leaders in the junior congregation. I graduated to running it.”

Although she found her niche leading her congregation, it never occurred to her to be a cantor. “I was the wrong gender until the 80s.” As for her musical style, “It’s mostly a cappella. But I have been accompanied by someone on guitar and piano.”

Her academic background includes both undergraduate and graduate courses in music theory, sight-singing, ear-training, music history, conducting, choral arranging, voice building for choirs, vocal training, as well as studying the piano and flute. Plus, “I began singing in choirs starting in the third grade.”

She also took college courses in Hebrew, modern Jewish thought and the history of Jewish music.

Schubert said although women had been taking cantorial courses, they were not considered cantors at first. However, things changed for the better when women were finally accepted into the Cantors Assembly, an international association representing the cantorial profession.

Schubert has been actively working as a cantor at various congregations around the nation for many years before her new position at Temple Sholom. She realizes her coming here will be an historic event for the local place of worship. And what will she bring to her new congregation? “My spirit, my choice of music. We have a lot of options. We go beyond the traditional.”

 

 

 

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