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Innovative Temple

By Amy Olson


I grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island but spent much of my adult life in Minnesota. When I was

growing up, my family belonged to what was then called Temple Beth Torah, but I do have vivid

memories of visiting Temple Emanu-El on several occasions.

As a kid, I remember that Temple Emanu-El had the best Purim Carnival in the area! One year, I

convinced my parents to schlep all the way to Providence to take me to the Carnival. I was

thrilled when I tossed a ping pong ball into a jar and won a goldfish. I named him Megillah, and

he lived for more than a year in a glass bowl on our kitchen table.

I attended several bar-mitzvahs at Temple Emanu-El in the early 1970s where I confess most of

my time was spent in the ladies room with the other girls, admiring our maxi-dresses.

When I moved back to Rhode Island with my own family in 2005, I wanted to join a

congregation that was highly participatory and offered numerous resources.  As someone who

loves to daven and read Torah, I was looking for a vibrant Shabbat morning community, where I

would have the opportunity to be an active learner and an active leader.

Temple Emanuel is constantly striving to be innovative, relevant, and responsive to its members.

Each of the Rabbis since I have been a member-- Rabbi Franklin, Rabbi Kaunfer, Rabbi Seltzer,

and Rabbi Babchuck-- have been caring, knowledgeable and approachable. Their pairings have

complemented each other and add to the diversity of experiences available.

Coming from a unique and wonderful congregation in St. Paul, Minnesota, yet one that did not

have a professional Cantor, I have truly enjoyed how much I have learned musically from Cantor

Mayer and how adept he is at involving the congregation in the service. I also love the fact that

there is a lay-led service option--Minyan Hadash-- where I can apply all that I have learned.

Sat, August 8 2020 18 Av 5780