Temple Jeremiah


Shabbat Sh’mot

Dear Friends,

This week we say goodbye to the book of Genesis for another year, as we begin the book of Sh’mot, for which this week’s Torah portion is named. Abigail and I have decided to make it a Shabbat practice to learn about the week’s Torah portion. I truly enjoyed sharing stories of the lives of some of our most famous Biblical characters in Genesis with her. Often when she sees or reads something interesting, she will ask me who made it or who wrote it. When we go to the movies, she always wants to stay through the credits to see all the names, as she is interested in knowing who contributed to the creation of the film—even though she can’t read! I must confess that I, too, have adopted this practice, often looking for people I used to know when I was in show business, and sometimes (though rarely) finding them!

This reminds me of the first part of Sh’mot, which means “names.” Even though this parsha is chock full of some of the most dramatically moving and enticing stories of our Jewish people– our Jewish Hero, Moses, the Pharaoh who did not know Joseph, the Burning Bush, the Passover Story– it can be easy to fall asleep at the beginning of it because we do not get to these more exciting parts until we get through the diatribe of “names” of the twelve Tribes of Israel, which appear at the very beginning. It is almost like putting the credits at the beginning of a movie instead of at the end.

Our tendency is to often “zone out” while names are being read in thank you speeches, or to leave during movie credits. It is a natural human reaction. However, Rabbi Brad Artson teaches us: “By insisting that we endure several such lists, the Torah opens us to recalling our own dependency on others, and also spurs us to be such influences for those people whose lives we can touch.” I cannot help but be reminded of the incredibly long list of people I thanked at my installation, and the long list on my concert program. And there were countless others throughout previous chapters of my life who I did not mention—otherwise we would still be sitting there!

As I think about my incredibly long list of thank-you’s, I am reminded of our old slogan, “Many hearts, many hands, one home,” and our new one, “The Joy of Belonging.” The former has led us to the latter, and as so many people have personally become engaged and committed to our temple, that’s when they truly experience the Joy of Belonging. I am forever harping at both sides of my family to get engaged in their respective religious communities. Getting involved and participating in the life of our congregation allows us to be inspired by others, form lifelong friendships, and to serve God in ways we might never have thought possible. It also sends a message to our children and reminds us that someone always has our back.

You may have noticed that I like to sing with people and feature them. I believe part of my mission is to give people in the congregation an opportunity to not only have their names read, but also to shine in a way they may have always dreamed of, but might not have ever had the opportunity to do, such as leading prayer at the bima, singing in the choir, and more or less, allowing themselves to be featured while I stay in the background and help them shine.

Consider joining us and allowing yourself to be named. Even though you may not want the recognition, it will give your family all kinds of nachas (warm feelings/pride). And it will help everyone in our Temple Jeremiah community know that the goodness which goes on here does not happen by itself, or because of the clergy or staff. Rather, it happens because of those who choose to get involved and truly experience what a joy it is to belong to a community. And what a wonderful community it is. How grateful Ross, Abigail, and Zev and I are to be a part of it.

And P.S. If you are ever in charge of making a movie, consider putting the credits first. : )

P.P.S. Please consider participating in our Rock ‘n Roll Purim Schpiel, starring our Temple Jeremiah talented congregants! Email me if you are interested, please contact me at cantorfriedman@templejeremiah.org.


Cantor Susan Lewis Friedman

About Cantor Susan Lewis Friedman

Cantor Susan Lewis Friedman is thrilled to be the cantor at Temple Jeremiah. She moved to the area from the New York/New Jersey area in 2015 after beginning her tenure at Beth Emet in July of 2015, just after receiving Cantorial Ordination from The Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music of the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion. Previously, she served as cantor at Beth Emet the Free Synagogue in Evanston, IL where, in addition to the many life cycles and other duties of the cantor, she directed the Adult Choir, created and directed a Teen A Capella Choir, Jr. Choir, and Intergenerational Band. Cantor Friedman strives to help all members of the community find their Jewish voice and she regularly invites anyone who is interested to sing with her during Shabbat and High Holy Days services. Cantor Friedman has a wide range of musical styles, and feels at home in almost every style of Jewish music, such as playing her guitar in a small setting where everyone is participating with her, or singing a piece of Chazzanut or liturgical music for a large congregation. Her belief is that nearly all Jewish music has its place in our synagogue, and when done prayerfully and with great intention, can inspire us to hear God’s voice, and can often help us to find prayer within our souls that words alone cannot arouse. Cantor Friedman holds degrees of Bachelor of Music from Illinois State University, Master of Music from Arizona State University, and Master of Sacred Music from the Hebrew Union College. During her time as a student she served as Cantorial Intern at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, NJ. There, she founded and directed their 40 member Junior Choir, Keshet, and also served as the cantor of the Barrie H. Greene Early Childhood Center. During her tenure at Jeshurun, she created and implemented the synagogue’s first ever Yom Kippur Family Service for which over 600 families were in attendance. It has since been a staple of their High Holy Days services. Cantor Friedman is a regular soloist with the Kol Zimrah Community Choir right here on the North Shore. She is an active member of the American Conference of Cantors and was asked to be on the leadership committee for the 2018 convention as Co-Chair for all of the Tefilot (Prayer Services) for the convention. She is an active member of the Reform Cantors Chicago, and is frequently invited to collaborate in Cantorial Concerts with colleagues throughout both Chicagoland and all over the U.S at places such as Temple Emanu-El Dallas, Temple Judea in Palm Beach Gardens, and Anshe Emet Synagogue with Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi. One of Cantor Friedman’s biggest passions is helping to sustain and foster the Reform Movement in Israel. From 2010-2011 Susie lived in Israel for the first year of school and volunteered at Congregation Ohel Avraham, part of the Leo Baeck Center in Haifa, where she served as volunteer cantor. She formed strong relationships with Rabbi Gabby Dagan, and the congregants who quickly became her Israeli family, and she decided to become a bat mitzvah with them. Six months later, Susie co-officiated a b’not mitzvah for seven Israeli women, all of whom celebrated with Susie at her ceremony and grew up never knowing that a bat mitzvah existed—only bar mitzvah. That year, Susie also conceived, directed, accompanied, and performed in Broadway on the Carmel, a concert to raise money for families who could not afford to have b’nai mitzvah for their children. While in Israel, she was nominated by her piers and received the Rabbi Jason Huebsch Memorial Prize for all of her work with Ohel Avraham. Prior to becoming a cantor, Susie appeared in the Broadway National Tour of CATS playing the roles of Jennyanydots and Grizabella. She also performed in regional opera, theater, concert, and as a pianist/singer/entertainer in clubs throughout NYC, hosting her own weekly open mic show at The Duplex. She has had the great fortune to perform with Betty Buckley, George S. Irving, and Alberto Mizrahi, and is frequently sought out to sing in various cantorial concerts throughout the U.S. She is a proud member of the American Conference of Cantors, the Reform Cantors of Chicago, and Actors Equity Association. Her love of children and strong desire to inspire b’nai mitzvah students to remain engaged in Jewish life inspired her to be a cantor. It is Susie’s goal that every student who walks through the doors of the synagogue will grow up to become vibrant, participating members of congregations. She is married to the love of her life, Ross Friedman. Her absolute greatest achievements are their daughter, Abigail Hannah Friedman, who was born on May 6, 2013, and their son, Zev Noah Friedman, who was born on Nov. 5, 2014. They are both living examples of her answered prayers.
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