“This is Framingham’s Day” – A City is Born, History is Made

Mayor Yvonne Spicer makes history as Framingham’s first mayor on January 1, 2018, the day Framingham officially becomes an incorporated city.

Dr. Yvonne Spicer refers to herself as “the people’s mayor.” She came to Framingham years ago to work in the public schools as a teacher. Her students, many of whom are grown with families of their own, have been so influenced by her teaching, lessons and values that she remains a continual presence in their lives.

Dr. Spicer, a woman of deep spirituality and substance, loves the town of Framingham and its residents deeply. And as the town of Framingham grew to become Massachusetts’ most populated town, it incorporated officially into an official city yesterday, New Year’s Day, 2018. During this process, Dr. Spicer realized she could make a difference for our community by playing a significant leadership role. (Framingham was first incorporated as a town in 1700, but was not a city until yesterday).

Framingham’s population is racially, ethnically and economically diverse. The issues of a small town become exponentially greater as the town grew into a city.

These challenges also become our greatest strengths: our diversity means we are like one “heart with many rooms.” We are not only able to be broad in our outlook, but expansive and deep, because of the plurality of voices that make up our community.

Dr. Spicer, as an African-American and as a woman, an educator with excellent credentials, is the perfect person to lead Framingham at this time as the first Mayor of this new city. We are standing on the cusp of a new era, an exciting time indeed!

Mayor Yvonne Spicer and Rabbi Sharon Sobel

And my synagogue, Temple Beth Am, is a part of this “history in the making:” one of our congregants, Adam Freudberg, is on the new School Committee who will be working very closely with Mayor Spicer to shape Framingham into a city of the future, a city with schools of excellent standards for all our students.

Mayor Yvonne Spicer, Rabbi Sharon Sobel, School Committee Member Adam Freudberg

Our Jewish tradition teaches us that participation in communal affairs is not an option, but a religious obligation. Mayor Spicer takes this obligation very seriously. Each of us, as well, is responsible to partner with our elected officials to do our part to enable our city to reach its highest potential, to create a bright future for ourselves and our children.

I was honored yesterday to participate in the Inauguration Ceremony for Mayor Yvonne Spicer, the City Council and School Committee and to offer the Dedication Blessing immediately after the mayor and elected officials took their oaths of office.

Rabbi Sharon Sobel offers Dedication Blessing

It was an honor to share the stage not only with Mayor Spicer and our elected officials, but also with Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Katherine Clark, (as well as other dignitaries) who helped swear Mayor Spicer into office and offered special remarks. It was a thrilling and historic moment indeed!

Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Katherine Clark participate as Mayor Spicer is sworn into office

I share my blessing here:

Dedication Blessing for Inauguration of Framingham Mayor Dr. Yvonne Spice

Framingham City Council

Framingham School Committee

(Special Guests: US Senator Elizabeth Warren, US Representative Elizabeth Clark)

The book of Genesis reminds us that God created everyone B’tzelem Elohim – In the Image of God. Thus we are obligated to treat everyone as if we each have the spark of the divine within: to treat everyone with dignity and respect, regardless of ethnicity, religious background, sexual orientation or political belief.

We join together this afternoon as a city that is as diverse as it is broad: people of all faith traditions, or from no faith tradition, people from every ethnic background, sexual orientation, family configuration. As we celebrate the potential that exists on this threshold of a new era for our city, we acknowledge that each of us hears God’s voice in many ways. It is our task as communal leaders to listen to this multiplicity of voices, to keep open hearts, minds and spirits so that we may hear the many truths that are spoken. It is our difficult, yet sacred task, to find communal consensus in a manner that maintains the dignity and respect of every individual in our community.

I now ask Mayor Spicer, the City Council and School Committee – and your families, who will be supporting you in your endeavors – to please rise as we dedicate your commitment to your new positions:

We ask God and the God of all people to guide us as we accept our roles as Mayor, City Council and School Committee of Framingham: We dedicate ourselves to the following:

  • To work in partnership with each other and our good citizens to strengthen, energize and enable our city of Framingham to reach its highest potential.
  • We dedicate ourselves to continue to reflect the history and culture of Framingham while we strive to build a city that is a model of a bold, envisioned future;
  • We dedicate ourselves to manifest respect and concern for everyone in our community;
  • To strive for excellence in all of our endeavors;
  • We dedicate ourselves to care for and empower the poor, uplift the downtrodden and seek new ways to build hope for those less fortunate;
  • To work to make a difference in the local, national and world communities.
  • We dedicate ourselves to keep open minds and open hearts as we work to solve problems and listen to input from all people, especially those most different from ourselves.
  • We dedicate ourselves to lead our city with righteousness, justice, fairness and with a sense of humility, courage, strength and vision.

O God of All, help us to be aware of our capabilities and our limitations. Strengthened by working together, let us value the contributions of each other and those in our city.

And all those who are present in this room, the good people of Framingham, we dedicate ourselves to be your partners in this endeavor with open spirits, open hearts and open minds, and good will. We wish all of you, Mayor Spicer and all of our elected officials success, good health and blessings on our shared journey.

Let us go forth, empowered by God, by each other and by our community to begin the sacred work that we are now about to embark.