Temple Jeremiah


Jeremiah Gems- Charles Gurian

In many ways, I have made a full circle in the role my Judaism plays in my life. When I was young and going to afternoon Hebrew School in a Conservative congregation, I wondered about the white-haired older men who shuffled in every afternoon for Mincha and Maariv. I now find myself, white-haired, shuffling into the temple almost every Friday evening and Saturday morning, to take part in services that are an increasingly important part of my life.

It wasn’t supposed to work out this way. Just after my Bar Mitzvah I stopped going to services, for over 30 years. After my father died, I decided to try going to services again to see if I could gain some solace about my feelings of loss and our relationship. It helped that there was a reform synagogue two blocks from my home. I did find some solace, in the prayers I remembered and feelings evoked by saying the Kaddish amid a community prepared to be supportive. It did feel a little strange, with actual melodies to the prayers, as I hadn’t been to many Reform services before. But the level of Hebrew in the service fit with my dim memories (I could read, very slowly). And I began to take part, more and more.

Several years later, I married Randi and we determined together that the home we wanted to establish would be a Jewish home, with increasing incorporation of ritual and observance. When our son Josh came home and suggested we add one piece of further observance to our lives, we began to say the motzi before meals, and we still do. We make a very free form translation, often incorporating thanks for bringing us a guest or a particular item on our menu, but it feels less rote and points up that which we are thankful for.

I like to think I’ve become a thoughtful Jew. Not someone who does things because “that’s what you’re supposed to do” but someone who does what he does because he thinks about what he’s doing, the positive impact on his life, and, perhaps, the way what I do can help make the world a better place.

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