From Gan Shalom to Rabbinical School Graduation

by Solomon Hoffman

Dear RSNS,

Later this month, I will be graduating from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College after five years of study. I am excited to be marking this moment with the RSNS community at services this Friday night, and I hope you will join us. RSNS has been a part of this journey since the beginning, all the way back when I started in Gan Shalom in 1994. RSNS offered a nurturing and empowering educational environment as I grew up. In 2014, I began working with the Hebrew School and choir, and helped to start the Shabbat Unplugged series. Rabbi Jodie, Cantor Eric, and Rabbi Lee offered invaluable guidance, and supported me in exploring different congregational roles. My experiences at RSNS inspired me to pursue the rabbinate, and I am deeply grateful for all the ways this community has encouraged me. RSNS has always felt like home to me, and a hope for my rabbinate is to help people find that feeling of home in the Jewish community.

Friday’s service will also mark the final “Shabbat Circle” service for this year. Starting last fall, we tried a new seating arrangement for our musical Shabbat services, with musicians and singers in a middle circle, and the congregations sitting in concentric circles instead of rows. This setup allows us to hear each other’s voices better, and raise up our collective song with more power and connection. Our Shabbat band used to have its own corner, but this setup helps us to create a more integrated experience. At each month’s “Shabbat Circle” service, the music has developed a bit more, and I can’t wait to see where it goes this Friday.

If you’re interested in joining the livestream for the graduation ceremony, it can be found at this link. Many thanks to the RSNS community for helping me to reach this moment.