Rabbi Lynne Downey Goldsmith

Rabbi Lynne Downey Goldsmith

Inside Leadership
View of the ocean from the deck of a cruise ship

Last winter, our family took a cruise that coincided with the first six days of Hanukkah. We called the cruise line beforehand to see if there would be a celebration aboard the ship. Yes, we were told, plans were in place for meals to include latkes, gefilte fish, and matzoh ball soup.

But, said the young woman on the other end of the phone, “We don’t have a rabbi.”

“I’m a rabbi,” I told her, and would be willing to lead the services. Also, I added, latkes and jelly doughnuts would be fine for food.

On the first...

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The author holding a Torah scroll on the bimah of Temple Emanu-El in Dothan, Alabama

One of the advantages of living in the Mountain Time Zone is that we are awake a few hours past people on the east coast – and occasionally read the morning news stories the night before. On the evening of December 26, scrolling through the headlines on The Washington Post’s website, I saw this article: "A millionaire paid Jews to move to a small town in Alabama. Now, a couple struggle with their choice."

Without reading the story, I knew it had to be about Temple Emanu-El, the congregation in Dothan, AL, where I had served as rabbi for 10 years. Beginning in 2008, one of the...

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Rabbi Lynne Downey Goldsmith and congregants celebrating in the sukkah in Dothan, AL

My phone rang one spring afternoon during the first year I served as the rabbi in Dothan, AL. You will have to imagine the Southern accent that greeted me when I answered.

“Rabbah, this is Leon. I’m going to Montgomery to get some Passover food Barbra and I need. I thought I would pick up the supplies for the seder for the congregation. Do you want to come with me?”

That night, Leon and I drove for more than four hours to obtain Passover supplies for our congregational seder. It was the first of several annual treks Leon and I made to Montgomery until Publix, a regional...

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