October 2007

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Susan Dorfman

Yom Tov Of The Rising Sun
Susan Dorfman leads High Holiday Service at Marine Base.

Why did a woman from Bucks County spend the Jewish High Holidays in Okinawa, Japan?

Because she had the unique opportunity to officiate the high holiday services at the marine base.

Susan Dorfman, of Warminster, Bucks County, provided lay leadership to our service men and women, along with civilian personnel from the Department of Defense, many of whom are involved with the Department of Defense School System.

Ms. Dorfman, of Congregation Tiferes B'nai Israel (TBI-Warrington PA) explains. "Our rabbi, Jon Cutler, is a navy chaplain. During reserve duty in Okinawa, personnel on base asked if he knew someone who would be willing to travel to Okinawa, and lead them in prayers for the holidays. I jumped at the opportunity. Not only because it would be wonderful to share the holidays with our service personnel, but also because my mother is from Japan." Ms. Dorfman's mother traveled with her to Japan, visiting family while Ms. Dorfman worked at the base.

"It was a lot of work preparing a service that would meet their special needs. Remember, these are people from all different types of synagogues with differing holiday customs." With the help of Rabbi Cutler, Ms. Dorfman was able to prepare a service. About 20 people attended Rosh Hashanah and a larger number was present for Yom Kippur. The success of the service could be heard when the people sang the high holiday melodies along with her.

Ms. Dorfman is one of the lay leaders at her synagogue; a synagogue that encourages active participation from its congregants. "I never would have had an opportunity like this, if Rabbi Cutler hadn't encouraged me and supported me in being a lay cantor." Ms. Dorfman also teaches in the synagogue's religious school, and tutors students preparing for their bar and bat mitzvahs.

Ms. Dorfman felt very fortunate to have this chance; and the people at the base were very grateful to have someone there to assist them in celebrating the holidays. "The memories of this special experience will be something I'll treasure all my life."

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