Shedding New Light on Jewish Traditions

Mike Oswald Story

How I Found Or Hadash in 1984

Michael J. Oswald


In 1984, I was a single parent raising a teenage son and a 6-year-old daughter. When my son needed a Jewish education, we had joined a local Conservative synagogue. My then wife was Conservative and this synagogue was one where my family had a long history of many generations. I was actually raised in a Reform Jewish household and synagogue and was quite active in the Reform youth program, PAFTY. It didn’t go well.


So now I was on my own and looking for a shul for my 6 year old. I went to a few places, talked to a few rabbis. I was definitely undecided. I shared my concerns with Paula Pavel one day, when I bumped into her at the Cheltenham Township Conklin pool. She had an idea. Why not give her new synagogue a try? She was a founding member of this new shul at the Rabbinical College in Wyncote. It was worth a try.


I thought I was back in PAFTY. The service was creative. The Rabbi played a guitar. Everyone one was friendly and welcoming. The Congregation was relatively small, but growing. This was it. A chance to get in on the ground floor of building a community that I could relate to as a single Dad.


So here we are coming on 30 years later. I have been married at Or Hadash, had three children bat “mitzvahed” at Or Hadash, and three children confirmed. Not a bad record.  I have been active with various committees, continue to manage the Staircase Gallery, and plan on being at Or Hadash for the foreseeable future.


Thanks Paula.  Good suggestion.