HomeDecember 2013Starting with a KISS

Starting with a KISS

It started with the legacy of Sisterhood Shabbat, held by many congregations around the time of Parashat Beshellach, when the Israelites cross the Red Sea and the women, led by Miriam, dance with their timbrels.  For Wendy Lupul, it started with being asked to lead “Ashrei” in the service and then becoming the coordinator of Sisterhood Shabbat, a role she has held on and off for 25 years, first at Congregation Eilat and now at Temple Beth El of South Orange County.  “It engages people when they lead the service,” Lupul said.
One might say that the concept started with a KISS (Kol Isha Shabbat Service) – a special service of, by and for women but enjoyed by the men in their lives – that developed at Eilat and continued at Beth El when the congregations came together.  Now, in its third year at Temple Beth El, according to Lupul, KISS brings the whole congregational community together.
Lupul explained, “KISS is always on (Saturday morning) Shabbat Shira – Parashat Beshellach– this year January 11, 2014, in part due to the important role women played in the Exodus, their activities upon crossing the Red Sea, a time when their voices were most distinct. ‘Kol Isha’ means both ‘every woman’ and ‘woman’s voice.’  The Haftarah is about Deborah.  It tells the story of Deborah, the Judge, and how she leads Israel to victory over the Canaanites, and also of Yael, who kills Sisera, the enemy of the Jews.”
“This year we created a task force, so all groups in the congregation feel like they own it,” she added.  “It’s about the people coming together and having a good time.”
While it is led by women, everyone is invited and encouraged to attend the service.  The congregation’s auxiliaries get involved in the Kol Isha Shabbat Task Force, tasked with coordinating as well as encouraging broad community support.  They include the BE Sisters, Men’s Club, BESTY (youth group), TBE Connections (senior group) and ECC (Early Childhood Center – preschool). Kol Isha Shabbat Service planners elicit their input and enlist support from those constituencies.
Typically the centerpieces created for the KISS Kiddush Luncheon are repurposed and engage other parts of the community.  “In the past we’ve have done canned food for Food Pantries and toiletries for women’s shelters,” Lupul said.  “Since we’ve been at Temple Beth El and since KISS is on or near Tu B’Shevat, we’ve had a plant/tree theme.  Last year we had plants along with shovels and buckets for the ECC children to use in learning about Tu B’Shevat and planting the centerpieces on the Temple Beth El campus.”
Lupul loves to get everybody involved and is happy that new people are participating in the service this year.  She is happy to sing with people on the phone and do whatever it takes to “give people the tools” to be part of the service and enjoy it.
“KISS lets people reconnect, come together and enjoy Shabbat,” Lupul said.  “They can find their groove at the synagogue, where barriers are broken down.  It’s a matter of building community one person at a time.”

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  1. Ilene, thank you for the terrific article this month. We at Temple Beth El SOC (in Aliso Viejo), the area’s only dually affiliated (with the Conservative USCJ and Reform URJ) synagogue are looking forward to coming together as a community for a wonderful Shabbat morning service and sumptuous Kiddush lunch. I am delighted you will be with us again this year. Thank you. Happy Chanukah.


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