In Our Own Words

“One of the things I like about Fabrangen is that nobody discusses real estate.” – Manny T.

“Soon after we started coming to Fabrangen we got engaged. Although we were very new to the community, as soon as some members heard about our engagement, we were invited to have an aufruf. We didn’t have any family members who could attend but the warmth and caring of everyone who celebrated with us made it a day to remember.”  – Ellen D. and Adam F.

“My first contact with Fabrangen, as it was for many people, was at High Holiday services . . . My main memory of that Rosh Hashanah was that one of the leaders in the participatory service was a person who sang with gusto but for whom carrying a tune was clearly too heavy a burden. I looked around; no one seemed to notice; the crowd was wholeheartedly singing along. Then gradually it came to me: if this energetic but tuneless person could stand on the bimah and be accepted, even encouraged by this congregation, then maybe there was room for me too – a young woman whose feelings about Judaism were not always “in tune” but who was searching to be part of a community of equals. It’s [30] years later, and Fabrangen has never let me down on that score.” – Anne-Marie D.

“In 1983, I was considering converting to Judaism. My first-ever Jewish service was at Fabrangen. It was daunting: long, interactive. in the round, and foreign in language and in style. Quite a change from everyone facing forward in pews for no more than an hour! It’s hard to be anonymous in such a group of 40 to 50 people, but I was trying. And then, halfway into the service, I looked up to see a dark-haired man with a warm but intent face walking toward me. He was beckoning me with a few crooks of his finger. Was I being summoned for some strange ritual? Was he mistakenly thinking I might actually know how to do something? I was nervous bordering on downright scared, but I rose and followed him. We left the main sanctuary . . . and went into the hallway where the answer lay. He had asked me to do perhaps the one thing, the only thing, that a non-Jew could do in the service: help carry the table back into the sanctuary so the Torah could be placed on it. Two decades later I still don’t feel I can ever repay John Laster’s welcoming act of kindness. But whenever I need a reminder that much goodness can come from simple gestures, or what Fabrangen means to me, I think of what he did. What a heartening way to begin!” – Rick L.

“I remember well the first Fabrangen service I attended.  It was August 1978, and I had just celebrated my 40th birthday.  My religious background was mainly my Zayde’s shul in Crown Heights, where old men droned on and old women sat quietly to the side.  Then, later, Reform and Conservative synagogues, where a male rabbi led services in front of the audience.  I had heard a little about the changing role of women in Judaism, but it was not until I came to Fabrangen that I actually saw and heard a woman reading from the Torah.  It changed my whole Jewish life.  People were so friendly to me after services that I immediately decided to return and become a member.  Someone told me about the coming fall retreat, and I immediately decided to go.  Davening, singing, cooking, eating together definitely made me feel a part of their chevra.  Many years later and many Jewish Study Center courses later, I was able to celebrate my bat mitzvah with Fabrangen.  Later, I had the honor of coordinating the good work of many other Fabrangeners in caring for Warren Glick (z”l) in his final illness.” – Grace H.

“I have come to respect and appreciate the warm and personal way our community supports members when they suffer the loss of a loved one.  Our community and chevra kadisha have found ways to help members through difficult times, respecting Jewish tradition while leaving room for personal expressions of grief at our losses and joy in celebrating the lives of our loved ones.” – Ruth L.

“I am grateful to Fabrangen for providing me a base and a home for my spiritual explorations.  The list of “experiments” that I have unleashed on my chevra over the years – who can count them? Do you remember the dancing Torah drashes by the Dancing Dybbuks?  The yoga-Torah explorations?  The silent Torah drash?  The introduction of Rabbi Shefa Gold’s chants?  The giant puppets of Jonah and the whale and the people of Nineveh?  The placing of stones on nests of green for Yizkor?  Thank you, friends, for helping me delve into the richness of our heritage and explore it in these not so conventional ways.” – Dale L.

“I came to Fabrangen knowing no one, first while I had a one year Smithsonian Fellowship.  I underwent major surgery during Rosh Hashonah and awoke to find the flowers from the holiday Bima recycled in my hospital room.

Right after Thanksgiving my father died suddenly in an accident.  Fabrangen arranged a Shiva after I returned from the family funeral.  I found myself introducing myself to many who attended and knew I had become part of the Fabrangen community.” – Diane T.