Growing Stronger Through Adversity

by Cantor Eric Schulmiller

“To daven (pray) or not to daven, that is the question…” Jewish law requires a minyan, ten Jewish adults (Reconstructionists do not discriminate by gender), in order to say certain prayers in a service, most notably the Mourner’s Kaddish. But there is also the custom that we don’t count Jews out loud – there are so few of us already, why tempt the evil eye? So my workaround is this bastardized line from Hamlet, which happens to contain ten words. If I make it through the verse without running out of Jews, we’ve got enough for a minyan!

The story you’re about to watch features a moment when we were missing “the question” – i.e. we were two Jews short of a minyan. It takes place the Friday night of Labor Day weekend, 2007. As you’ll hear, attendance on the Friday night of a holiday weekend less than two weeks before Rosh Hashanah was sparse, to say the least. But something happened that night that shook us to our core, but also strengthened our bonds in a powerful way.

As we continue to grapple with an unprecedented spike in antisemitism, including 400 bomb threats called into synagogues and other Jewish institutions just last week, this story is sadly just as relevant today as it was years ago. Jews have always faced hate and prejudice, but we’ve also found resilience and hope in the bonds of community. I am grateful to the mutual support committee for engaging AJ Reisman and arbor to allow us to share these stories of our history and connection to RSNS, and I hope 2024 will bring peace and solidarity to our community and beyond.

Watch Cantor Eric’s story here.

Cantor Eric Schulmiller