The Williams College Jewish Religious Center was built just before I came to Williams. Though I have friends who remember carrying the Torahs over from the basement of Thompson Memorial Chapel where the Jewish student community had once worshipped, by the time I arrived in 1992 the "wedding cake" building was a fait accompli. (That I initially mis-typed that phrase as "faith accompli" entertains me perhaps more than it should!)
I spent a lot of time in that building, my first semester on campus. I became an erev Shabbat regular; I liked attending services, and the fact that they were followed by a home-cooked Shabbat dinner helped too. (I helped make dinner a few times, despite my complete lack of cooking know-how.)
That spring I got involved with the Williams College Feminist Seder Project. Though by then I'd developed a campus life that didn't involve the JRC much, the Feminist Seder was right up my alley, and became my primary mode of connection with the college Jewish community. The people who were drawn to it all cared deeply about Judaism, about the words we pray and what they mean, and about the holidays we celebrate and the way we celebrate them. I stayed on the committee through the rest of my college career, and even into my first year as an alumna living in town.
What occasions this trip down the proverbial memory lane? The JRC is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year with a lecture series featuring Distinguished Jewish Alumni, and I'm one of them. So if you're in the Berkshires and want to hear me speak, come on over to the Jewish Religious Center on the Williams College Campus for a bagel brunch this Sunday, April 9th, at 11am. (Bagels first, then talk; they've got their priorities straight. I'll speak at around 11:15.) They've given me twenty minutes, followed by a Q-and-A. I'm planning to talk about the history of the Feminist Seder project on campus, and how it led me to ritual revision work, which led me to a book manuscript, which led me to m'saderet (celebrant) work and keeping this blog, all of which led me to rabbinic school...