On Saturday evening, December 1st, Temple Hillel B’nai Torah, a JRF affiliate in Boston, MA, celebrated the 20th anniversary of Rabbi Barbara Penzner’s ordination. Rabbi Penzner, one of four RRC graduates of the class of 1987, has been the spiritual leader of Temple Hillel B’nai Torah for 10 years and is a former president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis.
The Temple HBT community was joined in celebration by a range of community and spiritual leaders, reflecting the broad range of Rabbi Penzner’s interests and activities. Special guests included Rabbi Richard Hirsh, the Executive Director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Rabbi Amy Small of Congregation Beth Hatikvah in Summit, NJ (also a graduate of the RRC class of 1987), Nancy Kaufman, the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, and Massachusetts State Senator Marian Walsh.
Cantor Jeff Klepper and Peter and Ellen Allard provided the musical entertainment for the evening. Guest speaker, author Anita Diamant, provided a moving tribute to her long-time friendship with Rabbi Penzner. And, the newly-formed (and mythical) HBT “Candy Committee” performed a humorous skit demonstrating to the gathered guests the application of values-based decision-making as it relates to throwing candy at b’nai mitzvah services, with HBT President Robin Fox starring as Rabbi Penzner.
The evening culminated in the presentation to Rabbi Penzner of the World’s Largest Tallit – 26 feet x 40 inches – composed of the blessings and good wishes of over 120 friends, family members and congregants. This gift was designed and quilted by Amy Gerber, an HBT congregant and VP of Leadership.