Bio: Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman has served Congregation Kol Ami since July 2010. She received her B.A. from the University of Virginia and studied Hebrew at Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel. She was ordained in 2007 by Hebrew Union College – Institute of Religion. Rabbi Ilana loves Judaism, Jewish texts, as well as individuals and their stories. Her joy lies in the interplay between intellectual Judaism and personal lives and relationships. She does this with the love and support of her husband Art Kieres.
Excerpt: We are among strangers and friends, stripping ourselves bare so that we can rebuild. Earlier, the Cantor chanted Kol Nidre, a haunting melody, a legal formula telling God that we may be fallible. God already knows.
During the chanting, we experienced a Kol Ami ritual: inviting teachers and leaders to hold our sifre Torah, our scrolls, while we acknowledge that we cannot always meet the vows we make. Ritual is full of meaning; we are our representatives. Despite our failings, we can grasp Torah and to hold it as a beacon for others.
The Torah belongs to you, and your understanding—the way you let it influence your life—sets you on a bima before God and your community. You don’t have to be perfect…you have to be willing to try.
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