by Sarah Kelen
The Temple’s historic sanctuary was full, as Temple members, members of Tifereth Israel, a number of Lincoln’s Christian clergy, and other members of the wider community joined together to welcome Rabbi Lewis and to share in Shabbat prayer.
Worship music was led by the Star City Kochavim, a band comprised of South Street Temple congregants and friends. In honor of the installation, the Kochavim debuted a new setting of L’chu N’ran’nah by composer and Star City Kochav Steve Kaup.
Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler welcomed Rabbi Lewis as a new addition to Lincoln’s interfaith leadership (not to mention a new Lincoln homeowner). The mayor cited a survey that named Lincoln the “second happiest city in the U.S.,” and he invited the rabbi to join him in helping boost Lincoln into first place. David Polson, head of the Lincoln chapter of the University of Kansas Alumni Association, was also on hand to greet Rabbi Lewis (KU 1996) with a “Rock chalk.”
Rabbi Lewis’s mentor and friend, Rabbi Kenneth Kanter, Director of the Rabbinical School at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio, officiated at the installation. Rabbi Kanter was introduced by Temple member Bob Nefsky, with whom he attended summer camp years ago; “If you want to learn to tie a knot, or start a campfire,” Nefsky said, “Rabbi Kanter is your guy.” In his sermon, Rabbi Kanter noted that a rabbi has many opportunities to offer blessings to congregants, but the installation is an opportunity for the congregation to bless the rabbi. He then invited the congregation to stand and join him in offering the priestly benediction to Rabbi Lewis.
Saturday morning, Rabbis Lewis and Kanter led Shabbat services, followed by the dedication of a new tree on the Temple grounds, donated by members Bob and Stacie Bleicher of Eagle Nursery in honor of Rabbi Lewis’s installation. Rabbi Kanter also led Saturday morning Torah Study to round out the events of this special Shabbat for the South Street Temple.