| A Gift Passed Along |

Ingrained in the Windows

A harvest much hardier and more glorious than they could ever have imagined

Photo: Russy Tendler

My son looks up at the windows of our shul, each representing one of the twelve shevatim.

Over sixty years ago, his great-grandfather Rabbi Emanuel Feldman planted seeds of Judaism in Atlanta, Georgia, and helped build Beth Jacob of Atlanta, the very shul my son stands in now.

Back when he arrived, Torah observance was weak. Commitment to halacha was rare. And Atlanta’s Orthodox future seemed unlikely. But with courage, warmth, and human connection, my grandparents watered and cultivated the souls they found. With time, the seeds sprouted into a harvest much hardier and more glorious than they could ever have imagined.

These shul windows have witnessed generations of Jewish tefilos, from the years a few men struggled to form a minyan until today, when four parallel minyan are held on this sprawling campus. I feel privileged to raise my children in the community built with the sweat and tears of their great-grandfather and under the continued leadership of their grandfather. The link to our personal and collective history is one they know well.

 

The shul’s core message is the same, ingrained in the wood and windows, ingrained in me and in my children: this is the house of Hashem, and we are here to serve with reverence and joy.

Russy Tendler is a mother and photographer who documents her children in photographs and writing.

(Originally featured in A Gift Passed Along, Special Supplement: Pesach 5780)

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