Havre de Grace Synagogue Holds Ceremonial Installation of Rabbi

Rabbi Emerita, Gila Ruskin, presides over the Installation’s ceremony, in which a group of congregants, each representing a different generation, wraps Rabbi Meeka Simerly in a tallis, a traditional Jewish prayer shawl, to symbolize their community’s embrace while she and the congregants bless her with a prayer. Rabbi Meeka is the spiritual leader for Temple Adas Shalom, a reform synagogue located at the corner of N Earlton Road Extension and Route 155 in Havre de Grace, Maryland. Pictured Left to Right: Micki Sachs, Kathy Lazarski, Dr. David Jaffe, Rabbi Meeka Simerly, Rabbi Gila Ruskin, Paula Mullis, Jack Gwin, Dr. Matt Wachsmann, Meg Gilespie (Picture by Michael Goldman, One Rock Event Group)

The Installation officially marks one year of Rabbi Meeka Simerly’s role as Temple Adas Shalom’s spiritual leader

Rabbi Simerly, or Rabbi Meeka as she is known to her congregants at Temple Adas Shalom, is still kvelling (bursting with pride) over a celebration held in her honor earlier this month. 

Rabbi Meeka, an Israeli native, was raised in a secular Zionist environment, in which Judaism was more cultural than religious.  She emigrated to California in the mid-90s, where she rediscovered her Jewish roots, and her passion for the faith blossomed.  After dedicating her energies to becoming an ordained Cantor, she felt called to earn a rabbinical degree.  Rabbi Meeka moved to Harford County after serving seven years as a Cantor and Rabbi at Temple Beth Tikvah in Wayne, New Jersey. 

On August 12th, congregants, community members, and distant friends came together to formally install Rabbi Meeka as the Rabbi (Jewish Spiritual Leader) of Temple Adas Shalom, located in Havre de Grace, Maryland. 

The Installation, held at Hopkins Farm Brewery, included singing, prayers, and several speeches.  The actual installation ceremony was presided over by Rabbi Emerita, Gila Ruskin, who although retired from her post, has befriended and mentored Rabbi Meeka as she has been acclimating to the community. 

“If anyone ever doubted there was divine providence, this was it,” exclaimed Rabbi Ruskin. Rabbi Ruskin went on to explain how Rabbi Meeka’s ability to forge genuine connections with people would be her greatest strength in serving her congregants and community.  The ceremony included calling on a group of congregants, each representing a different generation, to wrap the rabbi in a tallis, a traditional Jewish prayer shawl, while she and the congregants blessed her with a prayer.

Temple President, Mark Wolkow, poked fun at Rabbi Meeka, announcing her preference to stay out of the spotlight, continued on to highlight her accomplishments in the short time she’s been with the synagogue, including her commitment and time spent with the small children of the Temple’s Early Learning Center.  He went on to applaud the many creatively themed Shabbat Services she has spearheaded, including Rock Shabbat, PRIDE Shabbat, and Claws & Paws Shabbat.  Wolkow sincerely noted that Rabbi Meeka had been a source of comfort, consolation, and caring for all in need.

Outside of the synagogue, Rabbi Meeka has been making inroads with local clergy from a variety of faiths and elected officials. She was humbled to receive recognition from County Executive Bob Cassilly, Mayor Bill Martin of Havre de Grace, and State Senator Ben Cardin.   “I join the members of Temple Adas Shalom in welcoming you as their new leader. I am confident that your experience as a Rabbi, Cantor and interfaith leader will provide the foundation to continue the mission of your congregation and foster an environment to encourage the spiritual growth and fellowship of your congregants,” stated Senator Ben Cardin in a printed statement included in the installation program.

Rabbi Meeka’s address to the attendees was as emotional as it was endearing. “When I come to your homes to comfort, to be your friend, when we come together to sing, to pray, sometimes dance, sometimes cry; I enjoy leading in a way that brings us closer to one another and to the Almighty.  Temple Adas shalom, a holy community, of and for peace. I feel so blessed to have found you… [this] beautiful group of individuals. And this evening, I am beyond words of gratitude.”

For Rabbi Meeka, her inspiration comes from the many supporting characters that make it possible to be a thriving community, and she took the time to openly thank many of those individuals, and especially her husband, David Simerly. She ended her remarks with a musically accompanied blessing for her congregation.

About Temple Adas Shalom

Temple Adas Shalom’s purpose is to build a strong and vibrant Jewish Community, focused on providing for the spiritual well-being of its members. The congregation acts as a center for Jewish life in Harford County and the surrounding areas. Temple Adas Shalom welcomes households of all sizes, ages, orientations, and colors, including those in interfaith relationships, who want to learn and grow in the knowledge of the Jewish faith and in the spirit of the Reform Jewish movement. For more information visit https://www.templeadasshalom.org/.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.