Rabbi David Lerner and his family were given a warm welcome to their new Rockville Centre home this month. The Sisterhood of Congregation B’nai Sholom-Beth David presented the new rabbi with a mezuzah and joined him as he hung it on the doorpost of the parsonage on Sept. 6.
A mezuzah is a piece of parchment contained in a decorative case that is inscribed with specific Hebrew verses from the Torah. In Jewish households, the mezuzah is affixed to the doorpost, serving as blessing as one enters or leaves the home.
According to Alyce Goodstein, co-president of the Sisterhood, this was the first time the congregation had ever done this for a new rabbi, even though several families have lived in the parsonage over the past 40 years or so. She said the idea to hold a celebration around the mezuzah hanging came after a conversation she had with Lerner as he was moving in to the house while his family remained in Toronto.
“He moved in about two weeks before his wife, because she was completing her Ph.D. and defending her dissertation,” Goodstein said. “He said he did not want to make his house a home until she arrived.”
So, she said, she decided to make it a social event, allowing more people to meet and welcome their new spiritual leader. They presented him with a mezuzah from Israel made of Jerusalem stone. About 50 people attended – wearing masks and maintaining a physical distance – and Goodstein said she was glad to see the interest the community has in meeting Lerner.
“We’re very excited about the energy and enthusiasm he brings to the community,” Goodstein said. “And he’s very willing to get out and get to know people. In a short amount of time, he’s made a tremendous effort to meet as many people in the congregation as possible.”
The Sisterhood is a social and service organization within the congregation that hosts fundraisers for the synagogue as well as events and programs that allow women of all ages to connect. Prior to the pandemic, members would participate in weekly Mahjong games, and the committee would organize lectures, speakers and trips periodically. The mezuzah hanging, Goodstein said, turned out to serve as an opportunity to see people in-person, some of whom she had only seen on Zoom since March.
“It was nice to see people face-to-face,” she said,” and nice not having glass between us.”