On Sunday, May 15, Congregation Har HaShem celebrated its 50th Anniversary at its long anticipated Jubilee Party. 300 guests, many in 60s fashion, packed the Gatehouse in Lafayette for a wonderful evening full of friendship, nostalgia, great food, and high energy.
During a number of presentations, there were some humorous look-backs at photos from the past, some reflections on what we have achieved as a Jewish community, and many thoughts about the future. Founding members of Har HaShem and their families were warmly recognized for their legacy.
There was also much excited discussion about the 50th Anniversary Torah that Har HaShem members have an opportunity to write over the course of the next months. Named for Arthur Bronstein z”l, a beloved Founder, and inspired by a generous act of tzedakah from his family, every Har HaShem member is invited to write a letter in this new Torah under the expert guidance of a visiting scribe.
The highlight of the evening was a presentation by Har HaShem Trustee Gary Margolis on behalf of his family, citing their excitement for the Torah writing project. Gary’s parents, Don and Barbara z”l are also Founders. Barbara passed away in November, 2015.
Representing Don, his brothers and their wives, nieces and nephews, Gary spoke movingly about Barbara and Don’s five decades of dedication to Har HaShem, their love for the community, and special moments they have shared.
The bricks and mortar of Har HaShem has stood for almost 50 years, but it is more than a building. It has housed milestones for many of us. My brothers and I all became a Bar Mitzvah there, along with Barbara becoming a Bat Mitzvah at age 63. My brothers and parents laid bricks in the south wall of the original sanctuary. Years later, my parents and I dedicated the cornerstone of the new sanctuary and personally placed a time capsule behind it. We all celebrated Barb and Don’s 50th wedding anniversary at Har HaShem. Every one of these memories is full of being surrounded by community.
When Barbara heard we would be writing a new Torah, she was very excited about it. She knew it was a special and spiritual mitzvah.
Gary urged the audience to participate in the mitzvah of writing a Torah by making an appointment to scribe a letter. And he also offered the challenge of making a dedication of a Torah verse, portion or theme, along with a donation:
It is a mitzvah to perform an act of financial tzedakah, of financial righteousness, through a donation to Har HaShem that helps to support all that we do as a Congregation. That is why tonight, we are humbled and overjoyed, in fact we are jubilant, to offer a challenge to the members of Har HaShem in memory of Barbara Tobor Margolis. For every dollar donated to the Arthur Bronstein Torah writing project through August, including dedications pledged to date, the Margolis Family will donate a dollar to the general fund of Har HaShem, up to $180,000. That’s 10,000 Chai, so that the memory of Barbara Tobor Margolis will live on in our new Torah even though she is gone.
It was an extraordinary moment for those present, as an emotional response swept the room.
Here are more pictures from the event: