Volume 75, Number 21 | October 12 - 18, 2005

Villager photo by Tequila Minsky

From left, Cantors Patricia Rudden, Rosalie Osian and Stan Alpert were introduced by Rabbi Judith Hauptman, founder of Ohel Ayalah, following Rosh Hashanah service on Oct 1.

3 cantors and rabbi make for 1 service to remember

By Tequila Minsky

Three cantors and a rabbi officiated at the first day of Rosh Hashanah at the newest local high holiday services at Ohel Ayalah, which opened its doors last year in the social hall of the First Presbyterian Church at Fifth Ave. and 12th St.

The free services were organized by Rabbi Judith Hauptman, Talmud professor at Jewish Theological Seminary. “I’m not looking for those who have never been in a synagogue, but those with exposure looking for way to connect,” she said. Word of mouth and the Internet drew an overflow crowd of more than 200, with many more turned away at the door.

Two-thirds were people under age 35; the others were those who have intermarried, travelers and other Manhattan unaffiliated Jews — even some from the Upper West Side — drawn by a need to celebrate the high holiday season as a community.

“I wanted a service attendees can just walk into,” commented Rabbi Hauptman, a longtime Village resident. “But some people need to know they have a seat,” she commented, explaining the compromise — half are seats reserved via the Web, the other half unreserved.

Rabbi Hauptman realized the need for members of the community “searching” with nowhere else to go for the holidays, especially those who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the fees many congregations charge. The traditional and egalitarian service began a little after 9 a.m. and ended promptly at 12:15 p.m.

The rabbi sometimes would give a preview of a few pages to come and explain some of the liturgy. Other times she posed questions as to the significance of certain passages — what does it say about family life in the Middle East in biblical times or why is a particular passage read for Rosh Hashanah?

The three cantors shared the pulpit, each leading different sections of the service. The lilting voices of the women cantors, Patrician Rudden and Rosalie Osian, blended with Cantor Stan Alpert’s deep tones.

The services were capped by a tasty repast of traditional foods donated by the 2nd Ave. Deli followed by a lecture by Professor Hasia Diner, New York University professor of American Jewish History, who spoke on remembrance and the Holocaust.

Suzanne Kaufman of Soho was a returnee from last year. “I liked the congregation interaction and all the women leading the service,” she said. “There is a warmth to these services with intellectual content.”

There will be two Kol Nidrei services (6 p.m. and 8 p.m.) on the eve of Yom Kipper, Wed., Oct 12.

Rabbi Hauptman also leads services at the Cabrini Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in the East Village. She named the new congregation Ohel Ayalah for her late mother, who died in 1956 on the eve of Yom Kippur. A grant from U.J.A.-Federation of New York helped launch this project and many individuals have contributed financial assistance. Town and Village Synagogue on E. 14th St. lent the Torah that is read during the service. The cantors are all volunteers.

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