A Marriage Made in Heaven

Rabbi Debra Cantor under the chuppah celebrating the marriage of two Connecticut congregations.

BLOOMFIELD — Two Connecticut congregations,  Congregation Tikvoh Chadoshoh of Bloomfield and Congregation B’nai Sholom of Newington,  celebrated their merger on Sunday, July 10 with a “wedding” attended by more than 300 guests. Standing under a chuppah adorned with flowers in the Tikvoh Chadoshoh sanctuary, the congregation’s new spiritual leader Rabbi Debra Cantor, read the ketubah. Then, the traditional breaking of a glass was followed by a chorus of “mazel tovs”…and B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom’s (BTS) was officially welcomed as Connecticut’s newest Conservative congregation. The new congregation will be housed in the Tikvoh Chadoshoh building on Still Road in Bloomfield.
Ceremonies began with a Torah procession in which board members from Tikvoh and B’nai Sholom marched the sacred scrolls down the center aisle.   From under the chuppah, Cantor mused over difficulties in finding a Hebrew translation of the word merger for use in the ketubah:  “And then it came to me.  I realized that it didn’t matter what the precise term is for merger. This was more than a merger of funds and property.  This document was meant to mark and celebrate the beginning of a new kehilah, a new community with separate histories, but with a shared commitment to Torah, God, and Israel.  And such a moment is no mere merger; it is no less than a covenantal occasion.”
“We’re looking forward to a flourishing congregation,” said Deb Polun, co-president of BTS.  “We believe that in this circumstance 1+1 = 3. Our two synagogues are coming together to form something greater and something unique in this area.  Today’s wedding was not just a celebration of the official merger, but of the special community we are creating together.”
Cantor read from the concluding portion of the ketubah text she had written:   “We have joined together to share joy and sorrow, to create bonds of friendship, and to build a holy community.”  She lingered a moment over the meaning of a “kehilah kedoshah” – a holy community.  “A kehillah is not simply a circle of friends; it has a sacred mission; it encourages its members to grow in wisdom and to live in ways that make a difference in our lives and in the world around us.  More than just developing friendships, a Jewish community exists to mobilize Jews to do God’s work.”

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