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September 25, 1992 - Image 43

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-09-25

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his Sunday will be dif-
ferent from other Sun-
days for the family of
Rabbi Eliezer and Aviva Co-
Rabbi Cohen of Young Is-
rael of Oak-Woods will take
a day off from his busy teach-
' ing schedule to help with last-
' minute preparations for erev
Rosh Hashanah.
Rabbi Cohen teaches at Aki-
va during the day and teach-
es classes at Young Israel of
Oak-Woods on certain eve-
nings. And when he gets some
free time, say his children, wife
..nd friends, he goes antique
The house on Sherwood in
Oak Park is filled with old gad-
gets — from his plentiful
cuckoo clock collection to his
prized organ. Maybe, some-
day, Aviva Cohen says, she
will open a store to sell it all.
The Cohens could use an-
other room to stock all of the
rabbi's collectibles. How about
an entire house, Mrs. Cohen
For the past two weeks,
° Mrs. Cohen has been cooking


in "double doses" for the Jew-
ish New Year. Two weeks be-
fore the holiday season began,
her freezer was filled with
kugels, cooked meats and "all
of the soups."
"As much as I try to plan
ahead, everything gets done
in the last two days," Mrs. Co-
hen says. "The day before the
holiday nobody bothers me. I
have to finish the cooking."
Aviva Cohen speaks softly,
and she makes it all seem so
"It's not too bad," she says.
"After we light the candles on
erev Rosh Hashanah, I get
more into the spirit.
"Now we are just preparing,
and it is easy to lose sight of
the spirit of it all," she says.
Until candlelighting, she
agrees, organized chaos is a
good description of the Cohen
But what about all of the
children? So many mouths to
feed. So many new year shoes
and suits and dresses to pur-
"We get new shoes as need-
ed," she says. "We go through
the boxes and make sure
something nice fits each one."

Aviva Cohen and
the children work
on the High
Holiday meals in
the kitchen.

The oldest two children,
Azari Moshe, 19, and
Hananye Arieh, 17, are away
at yeshivot. They will be home
for Sukkot. The rest — Yedi-
da, or Dee Dee, 15; Nehemya
Yosef, 13; Saadya Rafael, 11;
Tova Chaya, 9; Devorah Leah
and Bracha Alta, each 7; Gol-
da Miriam, 6; Aaron Dov, 2;
and Shoshana Esther, 11
weeks old — will celebrate at
home with the family.

Devorah Leah wants a new
dress. But she knows she may
not need one.
"This is so special so I like
fancy stuff that I never had be-
fore," adds Bracha Alta. She
would like a pretty headband
to wear to shul. Tova Chaya is
a likely candidate for new
Mrs. Cohen doesn't worry.
If the children need some-
thing, she finds sales. They

also get hand-me-downs, she
The children understand
the holidays. They study at
school. They bring extra
tzedakah (charity) to school
and they fill their days lead-
ing up to Rosh Hashanah by
helping out any way they can.
"We will be judged because
it is the head of the new year,"
Saadya Rafael says. "I guess
it is exciting. We eat a lot." ❑




watch given to him by a fam-
ily friend who was the first to
tell him, "You should be a rab-
Even his congregants may
not realize the personal at-
tachment he has for several
poems he recites during the
High Holiday services. He
also uses a traditional chant
in one prayer that was a fa-
vorite of his uncle, a cantor in
Cleveland who was killed dur-
ing World War II and for

themes and approaches from
which he might draw inspi-
ration for his four High Hol-
iday sermons.
The books may be fiction or
non-fiction,/ theological or his-
torical. "So I'm already think-
ing what I want to address
sermonically. This way, when
I come back from camp I'm in
the mode."
Does this mean Rabbi Ro-
man is prepared well in ad-
vance? "Not even close," he
says with a laugh. "But I've
followed a pattern for a num-
ber of years. I have certain
customs, personal rituals,
that have meaning for me."
These include wearing on
the holidays the bar mitzvah

Will Rabbi Roman be
prepared well in ad-
vance? "Not even
close," he laughs.

P hoto by G lenn Triest

ost people start
thinking about the
High Holidays dur-
ing the summer. But for Rab-
bi Norman Roman of Temple
Kol Ami, Rosh Hashanah and
Yom Kippur are a year-round
thought process.
"If I run across a quote or a
theme, I save it. It's not like
on Aug. 1, I start thinking
about the High Holidays," the
– rabbi says. Summers intensi-
fy his preparations.
During the last six sum-
mers, he has taught at the
Union of American Hebrew
Congregations' Kutz Camp in
Warwick, N.Y. Each year he
has taken along reading: four
or five books with diverse

Rabbi Roman: Year-round ideas and summer reading.

whom he was named.
The key words for Rabbi
Roman in developing his ser-
mons are consistency and pat-
tern. They help him plan
what he will say and set his
mood for the holidays.
One sermon will have a
theological theme — repen-
tance or awe. A second will be
about Israel or Am Yisrael,
the Jewish people. He relates
his third sermon specifically
to his congregation, dis-
cussing long-range plans or a
new program that should be

His fourth sermon, usual-
ly Yom Kippur morning, is a
story. "It is the story," the rab-
bi says,"of one person who an-
swers the most important
question of Yom Kippur —
Where are you?
"God knows where Adam
and Eve are, but do Adam
and Eve know where they
are?" Rabbi Roman asks. "Are
you as an individual facing
the challenges before you?
"Every year I answer that
question by talking about one
person." Some of his choices
in recent years have been Ida
Nudel, Natan Sharansky and
concentration camp survivor
and author Viktor Frank'.
This year, Rabbi Roman
will give an additional ser-
mon. Temple Kol Ami is host-
ing a singles service on the
second night of Rosh
Hashanah. Although he
hasn't finalized his topic, he
may "do something PC — po-
litically correct. Is it a Jewish
Rabbi Roman believes most
rabbis, before the High Holi-
days, reach out to members of
their congregations who have
not been as active. "I find my-
self doing more pastoral con-
necting, visiting people who
have been sick. I want every-

one to feel included.
"And I find myself praying
more," he says. "I pray that I
will be able to pray with more
devotion, in a less mechani-
cal way. I do this because of
my own sense of the High
Holy Days and because I per-
ceive myself as a role model."
Mundane chores also wor-
ry the rabbi. Because Temple
Kol Ami does not have an ad-
ministrator, Rabbi Roman
oversees the office. Have the
tickets been mailed, have ex-
tra chairs been rented, has
the music been coordinated
with the musical director?
While standing on the bimah,
he sometimes worries that
the microphone will break or
that a congregant who is
scheduled to read a portion of
the service was not informed
or did not arrive on time.
Because of the scope of the
holidays, "within the staff we
talk about them as if they
were an event just like a guest
speaker," he says. "I wish as
much energy were put into
our spiritual checklist."
Says Rabbi Roman, "I en-
joy the High Holy Day expe-
rience. I look forward to it. I'm
almost never ready, but I look
forward to the community at
prayer and the communal
customs -affirmed." ❑

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