Synagogue job proves educational for Weibel

November 21, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

Dolores Weibel didn't let being an active Episcopalian deter her from answering a newspaper advertisement nearly 15 years ago for a job at Congregation B'nai Abraham, Hagerstown's Jewish synagogue.

"They were looking for a caretaker," Weibel said. "I came and applied, but that's not the job I got."

A few weeks later, another ad appeared, this time seeking a secretary. After interviews with Syd Machat and then-Rabbi Charles Rabinowitz, Weibel got the job. The question of her religious background never came up, she said.

Through the years, Weibel said she has been able to learn a lot about the workings of a synagogue and how they differ from - and are similar to - rituals of other religious organizations.


On Friday, Weibel was to be lauded by the congregation for her years of service as the synagogue secretary.

According to Rabbi Fred Raskind, the Rev. Scott Bellows of St. John's Episcopal Church, Weibel's church, was to offer a blessing at the Friday services at the synagogue.

"After that, there will be an oneg," Weibel said. Over the years, Weibel has learned a lot of the terminology such as oneg, which is a reception with food and fellowship.

"These people are part of my extended family here," Weibel said. "I'm going to continue on the job as long as the good Lord lets me."

She said the job keeps her moving and her mind alert. Her husband, now 79, has a part-time job in the tool department at Sears.

Early on, there were some rough moments, but now when she looks back, Weibel can smile at her first few months on the job.

"I remember we were putting a service together and I was cutting and pasting the information on the announcement so neatly," Weibel said. But when she showed her work to Rabinowitz, he had to tell her she had the Hebrew letters upside down.

Weibel, now 73, also has had to learn a lot of spellings and pronunciations, which sometimes vary.

Previous to relocating in Hagerstown to be closer to her daughter, Weibel and her husband, Richard, lived in the Florida Keys, where he was a contractor until the late 1980s.

Weibel works Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the synagogue office at 53 E. Baltimore St.

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