by, Judi Siegal, President, Cong. Beth Israel of Ocala
(Ocala, FL) Rabbi Goldie Milgram recently brought her unique program of mitzvah sharing and spirituality to the North Central Florida community of Ocala. She was the guest of Congregation Beth Israel, a liberal, Reconstructionist-learning community for a Shabbaton centered on personal and communal Jewish spiritual journeys.
Rabbi Milgram led Kabbalat Shabbat services with her signature blend of up beat tunes with a Jewish Renewal flavor. Her interpretive meditations and observations contributed to the greater understanding of the liturgy. She is especially adept with groups such as ours given many of our members have with little or no Judaic background.
On Shabbat morning, she had our early arrivers fully engaged with the newest addition to her presentations: Mitzvah Cards. This specialized deck contains the mitzvah in Hebrew and in transliteration as well as modern interpretation for implementation. Working with partners, each participant drew a card and then explained to the partner how he/she would fulfill the commandment. Rabbi Milgram then expanded our understanding and appreciation of the mitzvah. The cards ranged from the mikveh to truth in advertising and gave the community a new look on traditional Jewish wisdom.
Our Shabbat morning service expounded on the theme of spiritual journeys with Rabbi Milgram’s thoughtful insights during the worship. She engaged our group at all times inviting us to share in different approaches to the Shema and in the special melodies she led us in.
The culmination to our Shabbaton occurred on Saturday night with a special Mitzvah Stories story-telling session. Each of Rabbi Milgram’s stories illustrated a Jewish lesson in learning and her use of Yiddish for one of the stories was a special treat.
Our program ended with an original Havdalah melody by Rabbi Milgram. It was a pleasure having her in our midst for she brings special warmth and caring to all. She inspires all those she touches to do Tiklun Olam, to make the world a better place.