September 23, 2013
A Surprise Party
By Joan Praver—Volunteer/Board Member
The high holidays are over for the year but I will take the memory of this Yom Kippur with me for years to come. The singing of the choir was exceptional, the sermons inspiring, but the middle of the afternoon has always been dedicated to people being called upon from the congregation to stand up, come to the front of the auditorium and discuss their feelings about the day or their thoughts regarding belonging to the Beit T’Shuvah Congregation. It begins with Harriet Rossetto, the founder, giving an introduction then follows by her calling on a resident, staff member, benefactor, or guest, to speak. It tends to last around an hour or more before we return back to the final confessional of the service, when the shofar is blown.
This time Harriet called on the Rabbi first. He thanked one of Beit T’Shuvah’s creative volunteers, expressing his gratitude for the obligation she had taken weekly with the residents in her group over the past fourteen years. Included in his words of appreciation, he held up a copy of a professionally printed booklet, containing 12 poems, essays, and stories.
The Music Director had asked me some months ago to look through my writing collections and to allow him to print some of the best pieces people might wish to read. I conformed, not knowing what he intended to do with them. He had submitted all the work to a particular alumnus, who then read and chose what he considered the best and BTS publishing did the rest, titling it ‘Ode to Joan.’
When he called out my name I cam forward…It was nicer than having a surprise party!