December 2008: Episode Two of All in the Temple

If you believe in fairy tales, as many of us want to, then you realize that there are “little elves” at Temple Beth Sholom.

If you believe in fairy tales, as many of us want to, then you realize that there are “little elves” at Temple Beth Sholom.

These elves scurry throughout the halls, lighting the Memorial Board, changing the High Holiday Torah covers, planning and implementing the yearly Break Fast and regularly purchasing food for the Morning Minyanaires. With some investigation, this fairy tale believer discovered that one elf has a name —Michelle Murphy.

Michelle joined the Temple in 1984. At first, involvement was a very slow process. “Come to Simchat Torah, Michelle”, encouraged her friend Elaine Salinger. Looking back, this was an invitation Michelle was glad she accepted. Soon Michelle signed up for Beginning Hebrew, a course taught by Henry Cohen and the Rabbi’s Bible Class.

As years passed, and losing some very dear friends who she met at Temple, Michelle began to attend Morning Minyans to say Kaddish. Michelle now feels that attending Morning Minyans is the only way to start her day.

As a member of Sisterhood, Michelle served as treasurer and recording secretary. In 1997, she joined the Temple Board of Directors as recording secretary, followed by serving as Ritual Vice President.

Michelle celebrated becoming a Bat Mitzvah after another member of her small study group set a date for her adult Bat Mitzvah. Michelle chose the Torah portion, Massei because it speaks of “wandering through the desert”. She felt this was a reflection of her own personal search for identity.   

Now, Michelle can often be found on the bimah on Shabbat.

She says, “I never would have dreamed that today I would be reading Torah and leading services. When I’ve said to the Rabbi, ‘I don’t do it’ (referring to certain prayers in the service) his reply to me is, ‘you don’t do it yet.’” This helped Michelle realize that we are all a work in progress and the doors are always open to learning.

Michelle recommends that if you take the time to get involved, you can get back so much more than you gave. Michelle has proven that personal hesitation can be overcome and bonds will form naturally in this caring community.

Michelle and husband Rod are married almost 37 years. They are proud parents of 2 children and grandparents to 4. Temple Beth Sholom is lucky to have this “elf” as part of our Temple family.