At the Friday evening Shabbat service on June 15, 2012, Mishkan Torah honored a very special friend of the Congregation, the Reverend Dan Hamlin, who is stepping down after twenty-eight years as Pastor of the Greenbelt Community Church.
Affectionately known as “Pastor Dan” at Mishkan Torah, Reverend Hamlin is continuing his ministry by working with two organizations; one promoting Christian, Muslim and Jewish relations, and a second one involved in supplying drinking water to nations in East Africa.
The focus of the evening was to honor Reverend Hamlin and celebrate Pastor Dan’s contributions over the years to Mishkan Torah and to Greenbelt. The sanctuary was filled with congregants from both Mishkan Torah and the Greenbelt Community Church, who joined together in praying the liturgy of the Friday evening Sabbath service and in paying tribute to Reverend Hamlin.
Rabbi Jonathan Cohen and Cantor Phil Greenfield led the traditional Friday evening Sabbath service, which featured somewhat more English than the usual service, and commentary on the Hebrew liturgy from Rabbi Cohen for the guests from the Greenbelt Community Church, who enthusiastically participated in the prayers.
Rabbi Cohen gave a talk in which he drew from the Torah, Rabbinic sources, and the Christian Gospels about neighborliness and the duty to love one’s neighbor as oneself. He discussed the cordial relations over the years antedating his own tenure at Mishkan Torah between Mishkan Torah and the Greenbelt Community Church.
Rabbi Cohen then spoke movingly of his own warm friendship with Reverend Hamlin. Rabbi Cohen emphasized that when he first came to MishkanTorah as a newly ordained rabbi in 1998, he sought out Reverend Hamlin, a highly experienced clergyman, for support and practical advice, forming a bond between Rabbi and Pastor which has grown and continued to the present day.
When given his turn to speak, Reverend Hamlin spoke eloquently of his father George Hamlin II, and how the elder Mr. Hamlin had inculcated the future Pastor at the age of twelve with a passionate disdain for anti-Semitism and all forms of injustice. Reverend Hamlin’s tribute to his father was especially timely with Father’s Day being the coming Sunday June 17.
Rabbi Cohen then presented Reverend Hamlin with a beautiful volume of reproductions of illuminated medieval Hebrew Biblical manuscripts on behalf of the Congregation.
At the conclusion of the service, Cantor Greenfield led a rousing singing of the perfect song for such an occasion, “Hine Mah tov umah na’iym,” the text from the opening of Psalm 133 “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
With that conclusion, the congregants from Mishkan Torah and Greenbelt Community Church joined and mingled at a special Oneg Shabbat (post-service light refreshments) to eat, enjoy one another’s company, and to congratulate and wish the best to Reverend Hamlin.
NOTE: An earlier version of this article appeared in the July 5, 2012 Greenbelt News Review.