Welcome Rabbi Alana Alpert

by Deborah Fisch

Alpert_photoDuring the Aug. 28 Shabbat service, visiting rabbi Alana Alpert explained her route to the rabbinate. While her first love was community organizing in service of social justice, she worried about the high rate of burnout such work entailed. Rabbinical school seemed to her a way to prepare to help those leaders most at risk for burnout. “I never expected to be a rabbi with my own congregation!” She now splits her time as a half-time rabbi for Congregation T’chiyah in Detroit and as a community organizer with Detroit Jews for Justice – and one of our visiting rabbis.

In her Dvar Torah, Rabbi Alpert examined a verse from Parsha Ki Teitzei: “When you build a new house, you shall make a guard rail for your roof…” She found this verse’s practical application in preventing potential harm to be immediately relevant to her recently purchased fixer-upper, in which she and her partner discovered rotted beams that threatened the stability of a second-floor balcony. While the installation of a roof rail or replacement beams improves physical safety, Rabbi Alpert also inferred a symbolic meaning for the rail: it acts as a limit on pride of ownership of a house – a necessary check on entitlement and privilege in the midst of poverty and homelessness.

We welcome to our congregation Rabbi Alpert and the many other newcomers who attended the service, including a large contingent of U-M Law School students. The usual outstanding potluck dinner followed the service, which this time might appropriately have been titled, “Celebration of the Tomato.”