Clergy’s Corner


Read Rabbi Barras’ Monthly Reflections — “Rav Bar Oz

In this space each month, we feature the writings of one of the members of our Beth Am Clergy. This month we invite Rabbi Jaime K. Aklepi to share some thoughts with you. You may contact her at jaklepi@tbam.org with any comments.


There is so much Jewish culture for us to enjoy


As a Jewish girl growing up in the 1970s there weren't a lot of popular Jewish women role models. Who were the popular women that girls looked up to? I watched Farrah Fawcett on Charlie’s Angels, I loved the qualities found in Laura Ingalls of The Little House on the Prairie. But they weren’t Jewish. Of course, I loved Mary Tyler Moore. The Jewish women were the smart and funny ones like the character of Rhoda on The Mary Tyler Moore Show or Gilda Radner on Saturday Night Live.

As a Jewish girl I had a different kind of role model. As a Jewish girl I had Golda; Golda Meir, the Prime Minister of Israel. “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” That is the kind of empowering speech that a Jewish girl of my generation needed to hear. Still in the decade of firsts for women, the 1970s was beginning to see changes. Sally Priesand, the first female Rabbi, was ordained by the Reform Movement in 1972. I started rabbinical school in 1988 and still faced discrimination based on my gender.


Seeing women in power was important. We looked up to Golda, she empowered us as girls and as Jews. “Pessimism,” she said, “is a luxury that a Jew can never allow him/herself.” The complexities of her life and leadership will be explored in Golda at this year’s Miami Jewish Film Festival on Sunday, January 12th at 3:00 pm here at Temple Beth Am. Ten films will be presented here from January 12—20, 2020; three with the director’s present and one with a live musical performance preceding the film. Our Beth Am clergy will introduce most of the films. I will introduce Golda as well as the film Mrs. G., about the founder of the Gottex bathing suit company, Lea Gottlieb, a Holocaust survivor who put Israel on the fashion map.

The Miami Jewish Film Festival offers more programs than any other Jewish Film Festival in the world! Attending the Jewish Film Festival is one of my favorite activities of the year. The films offered — dramas, comedies, documentaries — delve deep into the broad spectrum of Jewish life, past and present. They are love stories, war stories, political stories, stories about families, winners, losers, all kinds of Jews from all over the world. More than entertainment, these films expand our understanding of the Jewish experience. I encourage you to make the Jewish Film Festival part of your 2020 New Year resolutions. Click here for information

The Jewish experience has always been presented traditionally through ritualized drama. Lifting the Torah in the air after it is read, dressing it in silver crowns and marching with it throughout the congregation brings heightened drama to our service. The reenactment or retelling of the Israelites' redemption from slavery at a Passover Seder is ritualized drama. And, of course, the Purim Spiel is really a drama and a comedy on stage. Each time we engage Jewishly in a different way, we gain a different perspective, deeper meaning and understanding of what it means to be Jewish. This year’s Purim Spiel will be based on the musical Hamilton. Join the cast or the crew. There will be approximately six nights of rehearsals. Call me for more details. Purim is Monday, March 9th.

We might still be searching out proud Jews as role models in popular culture — thank God for Adam Sandler — but there is so much Jewish culture for us to enjoy, embrace and be a part of. Don’t miss it!


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