Author Archives: Cantor Thomas

Purim at Temple Beth El by Cantor Mary R. Thomas

Jan 11

The Book of Esther – Megillat Esteir – was likely one of the last to enter the cannon of the Hebrew Bible, as late as the late Second Temple period. The text is a rich satire of Persian culture and a dark confrontation of the insecurity of Jews in that historical moment. For Jews in […]

From My Seat at URJ’s Biennial Convention by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

Dec 07

For five days every two years, thousands of Jewish professionals serving reform congregations and organizations, lay leaders, and congregants come together to learn, to pray, and to connect. We come together to learn about best practices and principles. We come together to hear how other synagogues struggle and succeed, that we may bear witness to […]

Words of Gratitude by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

Oct 30

“I offer thanks to You, ever-living Sovereign, that You have restored my soul to me in mercy: How great is Your trust.” This translation of the Modeh Ani prayer begins each of the morning services in Mishkan T’filah, the Reform Movement’s 2007 prayer book. The very first words on our lips each day are meant […]

Turn It and Turn It Again by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

Oct 11

Chag Samei’ach and welcome to the last official day of the holiday season of 5778! We have made it up the mountain of Jewish time that transitions us each year from one to the next. We started this summer with Tisha B’av, the day of collective Jewish mourning. Then we went through the introspective month […]

Stripes, Not Squares by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

Aug 28

When I was a child, I often thought about infinity. I remember spending time imagining the vastness of the universe, of time and space, and my place within it as both infinitesimal, while still being at the center of my very own story. It was not until I grew older that my sense of life […]

Prayer is a Time Machine by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

Aug 08

Cantor Jamie Marx is a classmate of Cantor Thomas. In advance of the upcoming release of his Jewish rock album, In Pursuit, Cantor Marx has organized a blog series that explores the intersection of rock music and prayer. He asked Cantor Thomas to write about prayer and Counting Crows, one of her favorite bands. Here […]

A Retrospective as We Move Forward by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

May 25

  Some of you know this story, but I think it bears repeating at this time. Like the Reader’s Digest volumes on my grandparents’ shelf, I’m going to tell you the abridged version. I grew up in a small, Classical Reform congregation in Bayonne, NJ. Bayonne had a thriving Jewish community when my grandparents and […]

Mother’s Day by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

May 11

  Mother’s Day is this Sunday and my social media is filled with friends sharing their Mother’s Day memories from years gone by. The memories shared are funny, frustrating, warm, or pained; they capture longing, they capture solitude and sadness, they capture profound joy. The New York Times Well section has had several articles and […]

More Than Enough by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

Mar 20

Parashat Vayakhel, Shabbat March 24-25, 2017 In this week’s Torah portion, men and women of special skill are called upon to craft objects for the Tabernacle. Those who weave or work with metals, among other skills, are entreated to use their talents to make magnificent the place in which God will dwell, the place where […]