Member SpotlightRyan Greiss September 29, 2019
Hillary Kahn and Ethan, Richard, and Will Quigley
Wise Connections: Ethan and Will, both 18, celebrated their b’nai mitzvah with us; Will volunteered as a madrich at the Religious School and was awarded the 2019–20 Seifer Scholarship; Richard graduated Pathways to Judaism; Hillary joined the board this year; and the whole family went on the March 2014 Israel Mission.
Without a Rosh Hashanah service to attend one year, Hillary Kahn asked her close friends for advice.
“Our dear friends were members at Stephen Wise and they spoke so highly of it that we had to come and see for ourselves,” she said. “We absolutely fell in love with the community here.”
“My husband Richard and I decided long ago that Judaism was going to be central to our family,” said Hillary. Richard, who was raised Catholic, graduated from our Pathways program and converted to Judaism in 2012, and their twin sons Ethan and Will enrolled in the Religious School when they were in second grade.
In 2014, the whole family — including Hillary’s parents, and Richard’s mother and aunt — joined the Stephen Wise mission to Israel. “We loved Israel, and traveling with the synagogue and meeting other members we hadn’t yet gotten to know was the most amazing experience,” said Hillary. “Traveling with Rabbi Hirsch is really something special.”
On the trip, Ethan and Will became b’nai mitzvah at the Valley of Elah in central Israel. “The ceremony was eye-opening for Richard’s side of the family. They got to see how Jewish worship compares to their own.”
After returning home to New York, Hillary’s parents joined the synagogue and her sons had a second b’nai mitzvah service, this time at Stephen Wise. “The boys weren’t so thrilled about the extra studying,” Hillary recalled with a laugh. “But when my grandmother — their great-grandmother — walked into the sanctuary, I burst into tears. She couldn’t travel to Israel with us, so having her there to see Ethan and Will — how poised they were, how beautifully they performed — was so meaningful for me.”
“Richard, who is a musician, wrote a piece — an Irish-Jewish prayer — that Cantor Singer performed from the bimah,” Hillary added. “He learned the whole thing just for us. That’s what makes this place so special.”