Filling the Pews With High-wattage Guests

Synagogue seats are always in short supply at this time of year — all the more so when one is forced to vie for pew space with visiting dignitaries. This season has brought news of a number of invitations pairing prominent non-Jewish figures with high-profile congregations. Senator Hillary Clinton has agreed to spend Yom Kippur at the Temple of the Arts in Beverly Hills, Calif., where she will dedicate a memorial candle to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of Tikkun magazine, was so impressed by anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan when he heard her speak in Washington recently that he decided to invite her for Rosh Hashanah. Sources at Lerner’s Bay Area congregation, Beyt Tikkun, said that while Sheehan will not be attendance for New Year’s services, she still might make it for Yom Kippur. On the East Coast, Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsányi is scheduled to attend Rosh Hashanah services in New York at Rabbi Arthur Schneier’s Park East Synagogue. Schneier, a Hungarian-born survivor of the Holocaust, said that 60 years ago he “never could have dreamed that… a democratically elected prime minister of a state that was ruled by a fascist and in the grip of the Nazis would attend Rosh Hashanah services in my synagogue.”

And if all these high-profile visitors keep you from getting a seat, not to worry. The Temple of the Arts’s services will be televised on PAX-TV.

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Filling the Pews With High-wattage Guests

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