Author Archives: Cantor Thomas

Purim and the reframing of “How are you?”

Feb 25

Last week at a conference out of town, surrounded for two days by old friends and colleagues, I was plagued by three small words: “How are you?” Over and over again the question came. And over and over again, I dodged it. But halfway through the conference, I misread the intent behind the question and […]

Singing for Joy, Singing to Celebrate

Feb 01

Like many in the early 90s, I learned the section of Torah that I read at my Bat Mitzvah from a tape that my childhood rabbi recorded for me. I remember carefully rewinding the tape with a pencil when the ribbon got a little out of whack and hoping that it would still work. How […]

High Holy Day Choir

Jul 08

It’s time to register for our High Holy Day (HHD) choirs! I hope that you will lend your spirit and your voice to make our High Holy Day services beautiful and meaningful for all. Adult Choir is for any adult or experienced 11th/12th graders who are willing to make a weekly rehearsal commitment beginning in […]

Paper Clips

Jun 25

Last Friday, the rabbis and I had the privilege of welcoming six beautiful souls to the Jewish people as they reached the conclusion of their conversion process. Each completed their own journey, some over the course of decades, to affirm their Jewish identity. There are another six or so who will also convert in mid-July. […]

Home by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

Mar 28

Home. Take a moment and imagine home. Not the home you live in right now or even the home you might dream of for the future, but – home – your childhood home. Where would you sit again, if you could choose one spot? What color are the walls? What does it smell like? What […]

Explore Your Love for Israel (Charlotte Jewish News Editorial, December 2018) by Cantor Mary R. Thomas

Nov 13

Chanukah rolled around about halfway through my year living in Jerusalem while a student at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform movement’s seminary. That year in Jerusalem, I would walk about 20 minutes from my apartment to school every day. One morning, as Chanukah approached, my brisk walks were unexpectedly scented […]

Iyyun for Healing (Yom Kippur 5779) by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

Sep 27

A few months ago, in the course of conversation with our summer intern, Student Rabbi Hannah Elkin, she mentioned that her Clinical Pastoral Education supervisor taught her that a preacher must always “preach from their scars, but not their wounds.” I stopped her, “wait, say that again?” “You must preach from your scars, and not […]

We are Enough and it is OK by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

Aug 23

Like so many, I was thrust into parenthood largely unprepared. It’s amazing how the doctors and nurses at the hospital let you take babies home without an instruction manual. Despite my profound lack of knowing what I was doing, I can look back to a moment near the end of my time at HUC-JIR shortly […]

1998 was 20 Years Ago by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

May 29

I had quite a few conversations last week about time. There was a conversation with my mom about whether or not she or I qualified as “old,” a conversation with a congregant about whether or not 5 years is a lot of time, and two conversations very similar in character, in which we discovered that […]