Temple Har Shalom will install the new Rabbi this weekend
July 19, 2016
A year ago, David Levinsky took on the role of Rabbi for Temple Har Shalom, and the past 12 months have been positive for both Levinsky and the Temple.
So the congregation will host an Installation celebration weekend starting Friday, July 22, according to Ruth Davidson, president of Temple Har Shalom's board of trustees.
"The Installation service on Friday begins at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public and we invite our community to participate in this wonderful occasion with us," Davidson said during an interview with The Park Record. "The same goes for the Saturday morning event, a study panel with notable speakers and a visiting rabbi. We are open and inclusive and would love people to come."
The Installation is a traditional occasion where the congregation expresses its commitment to the rabbi and the rabbi expresses his commitment to the congregation, said Levinsky.
"This is a beautiful way to sanctify the relationship between Har Shalom and myself as the new rabbi," he explained. "It's, in itself, a happy occasion and a celebration of everything we've done over the past year and everything we plan to do in the coming years."
The event isn't much different than a wedding ceremony, Levinsky said.
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"In a way it's a marriage between a rabbi and the congregation," he said. "We spent the last year engaged, so to speak, and this is a way for both parties to say we're happy with the way things are happening and that we want to keep going forward with this commitment."
Levinsky, a Chicago native, has enjoyed the past year in Park City.
"The town is a very easy place to get used to, and the Har Shalom is an amazing congregation. I'm lucky to be here because of that," he said.
The rabbi said being raised in Chicago, life in Park City meant he had to shift his thinking.
"The biggest surprise is the positive things that come with small-town life," he said. "It's so easy to cultivate meaningful relationships here. Every time I go to the grocery store, I bump into four or five people that I know and I've only been here for a year."
He also was surprised by the commitment the congregation had to the town.
"The richness and depth of the sense of community, both within the congregation and the general community, is incredible," Levinsky said.
Still, there were some other adjustments that took a bit of effort.
"I think it's necessary in an environment where Jews are such a minority that we are very open and welcoming," he said. "We're here to serve the Jewish community, but also serve anyone who wishes to participate in synagogue life, whether that is socially or religiously. And that openness is something that I think is unique to a smaller community and I really like it."
With that in mind, Levinsky has instigated a couple of things that not only touch Temple Har Shalom, but also reach out into the community.
"We have a new program starting for pre-school age kids and their families," he said. "It's wonderful to have that age group in the temple again."
The temple is also starting a new program called Communities of Conscience.
"It's going to be a community organizing program that will take a year or two to get started because we will take the conversation very seriously before we see any action," Levinsky said. "I think we'll have a beautiful social justice program that will come out of this."
Then there's the social aspect of the temple, he said.
"We have many people involved the congregation who are very committed to the temple and the way that they express that is mostly socially," Levinsky said. "That has expanded my definition of the role of the temple in the community. Ultimately, we're here to bring spirituality and religious life, but we're also here to build a community and provide a social life and a social outlet for people.
"The Park City lifestyle has expanded my perspective of religion in that way," he said. "One of the big questions is how do we take Judaism and have it be vibrant in this environment? And because Park City is such a unique place, we've done different things like ski shul, which is basically a service in ski boots that fits in the needs of what people are looking for."
At the same time, Levinsky knows he has to balance the social with the spiritual.
"I'm here to help build a holy community and I have to ask myself if something is in service of building a holy community," he said. "That's true with the social events as well. That's all part of the process."
Davidson said Levinsky has managed to do those things and edify the temple's congregation.
"My overall thought is just how fortunate we are at Temple Har Shalom and the Park City community to have Rabbi Levinsky and his family join our congregation last year," she said. "He's a remarkably amazing fit for our congregation. He brings joy to the practice of Judaism. At the same time, he's a critical thinker. He's an open-minded person. He's personable and compassionate and has taken our temple in a wonderful direction this year."
Davidson said Levinsky has led some exciting Torah studies and the Friday night services have attracted a record number of attendees.
"Very few services have had less than 100 people, and at any given week, we have out-of-towners who join us and they have given us positive feedback from those services and the ski shul services at Deer Valley during ski season," she said.
Levinsky is Temple Har Shalom's third rabbi and is poised to lead the congregation into the future, according to Davidson.
"Rabbi Joshua Aaronson clearly brought Temple Har Shalom to the place where we could have a permanent structure in Park City," Davidson said. "When he left, [Interim] Rabbi Jim Simon came and took us through a very important period of transition so we would be ready to have a permanent rabbi. He did a wonderful job with that and provided amazing support.
"Then Rabbi Levinsky has come in and it's such a comfortable and wonderful feeling to be able to focus on our objectives and our community in offering more services under one leadership," she said. "He has formed a wonderful relationship with our education director Michael Greenfield. At any given Friday night both Rabbi Levinsky and Michael are leading services, and they are an amazing team. This takes Temple Har Shalom to a wonderful place."
Temple Har Shalom, 3700 Brookside Ct., will host an Installation weekend for Rabbi David Levinsky starting on Friday, July 22, at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.templeharshalom.com.