Author Archives: Cantor Thomas

Strange Fire by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

Apr 16

In this and last week’s Torah portion, (yes! The same Torah portion two weeks in a row! Read more about that here) we have the difficult section where Nadav and Avihu, Aaron’s sons, are put to death for bringing an aish zarah – a foreign or strange fire – into their worship of God. There […]

When Bread is Affliction by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

Apr 01

Halachma anya di achalu avhatana b’ar’ah d’mitzrayim. Kol dichfin yeitei v’yeichalu. “This is the bread of affliction, the poor bread, which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat.” There are few moments in the Jewish year so focused on food as Passover. Food in Judaism is […]

Memories and Making a Difference BY Cantor Mary THOMAS

Jan 15

I’m writing today from a cozy spot in the heart of Manhattan. Several times a year, I make a one or two day pilgrimage to New York City to visit my voice teacher and have a tune up, so to speak. Congregants are often surprised to learn that I still take voice lessons and are […]

How to Chanukah and an awful lot of Music!

Dec 11

A friend of ours is getting ready to light Chanukah candles for the first time this year (two friends, actually, but only one is local). Since I’m in the business of guiding people through their Jewish journeys, it’s an extra privilege to help someone a friend to find the tools and learn the skills to […]

Happiness, On Being a GYPSY, and Managing Expectations

Aug 08

I discovered several months ago that I am a card-carrying GYPSY with flowering lawns and prancing unicorns. [More about GYPSYs – Generation Y Protagonists and Special Yuppies – and our “issues”.] Apparently, what’s wrong with my generation is that our expectations are out of line with our reality. In short, we were raised by our […]

The View from the Air by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

Jul 02

Several weeks ago, our Torah portions taught us the laws of the Sabbatical year and the sort of super-Sabbatical, the Jubilee year. During these special years in the Jewish calendar, we allow things to rest and be renewed. In the Sabbatical year, we allow the Land a period of time to go fallow, and in […]

Pancakes

May 19

Over a year ago, I sat in the congregation with my daughter on my lap one Shabbat morning. As a clergy-person, I rarely sit with my family in the congregation, so this was a special occasion. While Johannah regularly attends Tot Shabbat, this was the first time she had ever been in a “main” service […]

Jazz, Jews, and Shabbat Shmooze

Feb 25

After a class I taught recently, a couple approached me to ask about the music that we use here in services at Temple Beth El. Half of the couple you see, had grown up in the Orthodox tradition and for him, the music here was very unfamiliar. They asked, “what is the tradition of this […]

As the Gates Begin to Close – N’ilah 5774

Sep 16

Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas September 14, 2013 There is a propensity to love the service of n’ilah, these final moments of Yom Kippur prayer said as day turns to dusk. Here at Beth El, our “purple” service (hold up book) is most beloved throughout the year. Rabbi Alan Lew writes that people “throng” to his […]