Congregation Beth Tikvah is a synagogue in Worthington, Ohio devoted to the principles of modern Reform Judaism. True to their word, we found them warm and welcoming, and the congregation demonstrated they are an “inclusive synagogue dedicated to educational, religious and social activities that build community and further the cause of Judaism.”
Beth Tikvah, meaning house of hope, constructed a beautiful library that holds promise and hope for multiple generations. The Rabbi Gary A. Huber Library was completed in September 2016, dedicated in December, and is part of a larger strategic plan. The library moved into its new space from the east side of the synagogue where a preschool will start in January 2017. Children’s books will remain in the east while the adult books were evaluated and moved to the new library.
Rabbi Rick Kellner loves the people of Congregation Beth Tikvah. He admires their dedication to building a strong community around hope, and he envisions the library as a multi-generational learning space. He believes the library is a sacred space which continues the expression of religious freedom. Library activities include Shabbat sermons, a sisterhood book club, classes taught by Rabbis Kellner and Huber, board meetings, education activities, and webinars. Potential future uses include small weddings and signing ketubahs, Jewish marriage contracts.
Susan Pomerantz, a former Dublin Schools librarian, set up the library using the Dewey Decimal System (DDS). In chatting with Pomerantz, we learned Jewish subjects in DDS are limited. Pomerantz indicated, given time, they may switch to a more comprehensive Jewish classification system like Elazar or Weine.
At the front of the library, a wooden cabinet, called an ark, holds one of the synagogue’s Torahs. The library’s ark was constructed in the early 1980’s and used in Congregation Beth Tikvah’s original sanctuary until a new sanctuary was complete in 2013. The library’s Torah came to Congregation Beth Tikvah some 50 years ago and was originally part of a synagogue in Chicago.
It began a lifelong love affair in that temple library surrounded by the feel and ambiance of learning with Hebrew words. – Rabbi Gary A. Huber
The library was dedicated to Congregation Beth Tikvah’s Rabbi Emeritus Gary A. Huber. Rabbi Huber joined the synagogue in 1983 and became Rabbi Emeritus in 2011. Rabbi Huber holds a Doctor of Divinity from Hebrew Union College, and he has served as chaplain at several of Columbus’ psychiatric hospitals.
At a young age, Rabbi Huber developed a reverence for language and libraries. As a high school student during a six-week independent study at the United Hebrew Temple’s library in Saint Louis, Rabbi Huber studied Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers). During this seminal experience, he learned how to read texts better as a close reader, teasing out the subtleties and nuances of words. Rabbi Huber remarked, “In that library in a reform temple growing up there first sparked the idea I wanted to be a Rabbi. That spark came, and it grew and nourished in that temple library and it never went away.” (Watch and Listen to Rabbi Emeritus Huber’s entire talk before his D’var Torah [sermon] starting at 1:15:06.)
Before opening the library, Rabbi Huber led the hanging ceremony of the Mezuzah, an inscription with specific Torah passages, and Shehecheyanu (Blessing of Praise). Listen to the congregation’s beautiful singing of Shehecheyanu.
We were delighted and impressed by Congregation Beth Tikvah’s embrace of their new library. The Rabbi Gary A. Huber Library will remain a testament to lifelong learning and a beacon of hope for generations to come.
Special thanks to Rabbi Kellner, Rabbi Emeritus Huber, Executive Director Debbie Vinocur, Susan Pomerantz, Joanne Notowidigdo and the entire Beth Tikvah Congregation for your warm hospitality during your special day dedicating the Rabbi Gary A. Huber Library.