As Jews, we’re lucky enough to have at least two New Years.
While we marked the beginning of Tishrei in September with apples and honey, hoping for sweetness and renewed spirituality, celebrating the secular New Year feels different: Joined by folks from around the world, we celebrate Jan. 1 with a midnight toast and perhaps a collective sigh of exhaustion or relief that we survived another year.
2022 has had no shortage of headlines, for better or for worse. For our last issue of the year, the Jewish Exponent is reflecting on some of the biggest moments from the past 12 months.
January marked the 50-year anniversary of the ordination of Rabbi Sally Priesand, the first publicly ordained woman rabbi in the United States. Fifty years later, Philadelphia-area women rabbis reflect on the progress that’s been made in accepting and celebrating women in the rabbinate.
While these rabbis have made a name for themselves in their communities and seen other women become rabbis, they still sometimes receive misogynistic comments from congregants.
“We’ve come so far, and we still have so far to go,” said Rabbi Alanna Sklover of Or Hadash: A Reconstructionist Congregation in Fort Washington.
Though the hostage crisis in Colleyville, Texas, took place in January, conversations around security in Jewish spaces continued for months.
In response, Jewish leaders took advantage of the two Nonprofit Security Grant Program rounds in the commonwealth, a program created in 2019 following the Tree of Life Shooting the year before to provide nonprofits, religious or not, with funds for increased security measures.
For Temple Brith Achim in King of Prussia, which received grants twice this year, increased security measures have led to increased feelings of safety among congregants, according to synagogue President Steven Kantrowitz.
“Clearly, we’re safer now than we were when we started doing this about three-and-a-half years ago,” he said. “But it’s constant vigilance.”
When Russia invaded the Ukraine in February, the war displaced millions of Ukrainians, including many Jews, both young orphans and ailing Holocaust survivors.
Among the many Jewish organizations in the area to respond with support was KleinLife, an organization that already served a large population of Russian and Ukrainian Jews in Northeast Philadelphia.
In addition to raising money to support the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s aid efforts, KleinLife continued their social work and created a summer camp, which served 50 Ukrainian refugee children.
As summer turned to fall, KleinLife continued to provide care for these children in an afterschool program. Many of the mothers of these children take advantage of KleinLife’s English as a Second Language courses, which can help non-native English speakers find a job.
“It’s a community of support,” said KleinLife Executive Director Andre Krug.
Krug hopes to expand KleinLife’s ESL program and summer camp in the coming year.
Though he didn’t play in the World Series, Phillies catcher Garrett Stubbs still helped the Phightin’s make it back to the top.
In a May interview, several months before Red October, Stubbs spoke about his Jewish upbringing and the influence his bar mitzvah had on how he plays baseball. Between rushing between Hebrew school for bar mitzvah prep and numerous baseball games, Stubbs learned the importance of strictness and routine.
“Just that discipline of doing something every single week and then getting to accomplish that was definitely a stepping stone,” he said.
COVID was quiet in the headlines this year, with most acclimating to a new normal and learning to live with the pandemic.
Golden Slipper Camp is one of many Jewish institutions doing so. Over the summer, camp appeared mostly back to how it was pre-pandemic, though with about 100 fewer campers than previous years and a pre-camp testing policy.
In the first session of the camp, a COVID outbreak among campers caused camp staff to pivot, keeping the groups in their smaller bunk cohorts to limit spread. When they enacted a similar policy for the camp’s second session, there were no COVID cases.
Camp Director Justin Guida anticipates an even more normal summer in 2023, with attendance back up and with no COVID restrictions.
The camp will also celebrate its 75th anniversary next summer, with additional programming to mark the occasion.
One of the most contentious races of the 2022 election season took place in our own backyard, with gubernatorial candidates Josh Shapiro, a Jewish Democrat and local day-school graduate, facing off against Doug Mastriano, a Republican who has been linked to antisemites.
With the election going Shapiro’s way, 2023 will mark the inauguration of the commonwealth’s first Jewish governor since Ed Rendell in 2003. JE