Local Rabbi Brings Marginalized Voices to the Forefront

Monthly discussions seek to lift often unheard voices

December 29, 2021, Waltham, MA          Once each month, the Sabbath morning service at Temple Beth Israel features a sermon that “lifts one or more voices from a marginalized group with the Jewish community,” according to TBI’s Rabbi David Finkelstein. The series is titled Hashmiini: Let-Me-Hear Shabbat.

While it may be commonly expected for a rabbi to express more traditional sources of knowledge and interpretation of the Torah (the five books of Moses), at least once each month Rabbi Finkelstein defies that assumption to ensure that participants in the service are afforded a broader viewpoint using a range of respected sources. The series, which began in November, has included the voices of several gay rabbis, a scholar of both Jewish studies and disability studies, and a contemporary feminist perspective.

According to Rabbi Finkelstein, bringing these voices to the forefront is critical to studying Jewish texts because “the Torah’s relevance and vitality are revealed in new ways in every age.  We’re bringing marginalized voices to the forefront in order to discover that relevance and vitality anew.” In future months, he contemplates bringing in viewpoints from trans Jews, African American Jews, Sephardic Jews, Middle Eastern Jews, Karaite Jews, Native American Jews, and Jews whose identities are intersectional. The sermons, or d’vrei Torah (words of Torah), often include an open discussion with the congregation in attendance—including those participating in person and online.

Media are welcome to attend, and an interview with Rabbi Finkelstein can be arrange. No photography or videography is permitted in the synagogue during the Sabbath.

WHAT: Hashmiini: Let-Me-Hear Shabbat

WHEN: The fourth Saturday in January, then the third Saturday of every month

                Services are from 9:30 am to Noon; the sermon is at approximately 11:00 am

WHERE: Temple Beth Israel, 25 Harvard Street, Waltham, MA; or online

HOW:    Those attending in person must follow TBI’s current Covid-19 protocols; or join online. Links to both can be found on TBI’s home page, https://tbiwaltham.org/.

Temple Beth Israel is an egalitarian, traditional, friendly, unaffiliated synagogue that has served the Jewish community in the Waltham area for 100 years. Visit the TBI website at www.tbiwaltham.org.

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