Our Beautiful, Shared Home

Paul Sidlofsky

listen to Paul Sidlofsky read his prayer
scroll to explore

In my little corner of the sanctuary, I sit and watch as the sunlight flows through the stained-glass windows, creating patterns of color all around.

How blessed I am, in my little corner, to witness such magnificent beauty.

How, I think, can a small beam of light from so far away find a small piece of glass and join with it to form such a wondrous image? Rising from my seat, I walk to greet the people slowly entering the room. What begins as a small group continues to grow, filling the room with life and joy.

How blessed I am, in rising from my little corner, to witness such energy, such warmth. How, I wonder, can all these people, from so many different and faraway places, find a small building in a corner of the country, and there find a shared home, and a new family? Together we leave the sanctuary and the building, and we walk the streets.

We see signs and plaques reminding us of the rich and varied history of this city, of the many people and events that lived and occurred on the very place where we now stand.

How, I ask myself, can so many generations, from so many eras, find each other in this timeless place?

We walk to the river, as individuals and as one, stopping at the water’s edge to watch the flowing current.

Like beams of light, our hopes and prayers emanate from our hearts and souls, through the gaze of our eyes, and are cast into the water, where they sparkle and flow, as one, to a far-off place.

How, I whisper, do our varied dreams and prayers meet, intertwine, and move in unison to the same destination?

Together, we follow the bank of the river, tracing its shore, until we reach its end.

We marvel as the small current stretches longingly to join with the vast ocean before it.

How, I question, will the river be remembered in an ocean so great?  How will each of us be seen among the millions of others who share this place?

Slowly, as I gaze at the river, my doubts evaporate into the air, while the water, made up of so many individual drops, remains, flowing strongly and vibrantly into the distance.

I look out onto the vast expanse and see the sparks of light dancing on the tops of waves.

I watch the ebb and flow of the tide, carrying the water back and forth eternally. We are the spark of light. We are the waves. We are part of the mighty ocean.

We started as separate drops, but have found each other in this, our shared home.

We unite with one another, with our dreams and prayers, with the water and beams of light that surround and nourish us. How blessed we are, in our little corners, to join together in awe and wonder, as part of our beautiful, shared home.map_dingbat

The Temple

How, I ask myself, can so many generations, from so many eras, find each other in this timeless place?

During the 1840s and 1850s, Jewish families moved from small towns in Germany to North America, hoping for social and economic prosperity. By 1880 more than 200 Jews had found their new home in Wilmington. These families needed a shared home of worship and, in 1875, built Temple of Israel — the first synagogue in North Carolina.

The original windows, pews, and a number of artifacts, including one of the original Torah scrolls used in the first service in the synagogue in 1876, remain intact at Temple of Israel. Learn more about Temple of Israel at their website.

1 South 4th Street
Wilmington, N.C. 28401

About Paul Sidlofsky

We started as separate drops, but have found each other in this, our shared home.

Play video
Hear Paul Sidlofsky talk about the strength found in our diversity.
Play video
Listen as Paul Sidlofsky talks about water as a metaphor in our lives.

Paul Sidlofsky is the rabbi of the Temple of Israel in Wilmington. He is originally from Toronto, where as a boy he was involved with youth groups and Jewish camping through his temple, Holy Blossom Temple. Sidlofsky was ordained in 1988 at the Leo Baeck College in London, England. He also received a master’s degree in Jewish education from Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles.

Sidlofsky came to Wilmington from the Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington, D.C. He and his wife, Wendy, have a son, Ben, who just celebrated his bar mitzvah.