Building Community
Nov 6th 2013

I’m not sure where the month of October went, but I hope yours was a good and productive one!  Like many of you I expect, I spent the start of October recovering from the earliest-possible High Holy Days, before delving back into “normalcy”. 

The USCJ Centennial

In mid-October, our Chair, Dena Libman, and I accepted an invitation to attend the Centennial Conference of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. We were privileged to be among 1,200 passionate and outspoken Jewish rabbis, cantors, lay leaders and others of all ages (including a very enthusiastic USY contingent), from the U.S., Canada and South America, who descended upon Baltimore for The Conversation of the Century. While the 100th anniversary of USCJ was marked, the real focus was on the future of Conservative Jewish life, for individuals, communal organizations and synagogues, and the Conservative movement itself. Speakers explored the need to define and express Conservative Judaism in a positive way, focusing on our love for tradition that’s informed by modernity, the creation of spiritual, caring communities, and renewal.

The experience left us enthusiastic and energized, and feeling proud of our shul—not just because Beth Tzedec’s name and stature are recognized by so many (which is indeed the case), but also because we are already engaged in many of the recommended activities that were discussed: We develop programming not just to entertain but to allow members to build and deepen relationships with one another—the experience of participating in our wonderful Purim Family Musicals is just one example. We recognize that the boundaries and impact of our shul extend beyond our building, allowing us to take our programming out to the community, whether for teen community service trips or other educational and social activities. We seek input from our community to build the programs and educational opportunities that people are looking for. We seek and attract Generation X and Millennials to become more involved and take leadership positions on our Board and committees. 

Of course, there is still lots of work to do. At the conference, Professor Arnie Eisen, Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, spoke about the need to do a better job at whatever we do, prioritizing “more serious learning at all levels, more passionate tefillah, more adults and kids having more experiences of community at camp or shul or school, and more work to repair the world and impact individual lives” so that our communities—our kehillot—will “touch people deeply at extraordinary moments and at routine moments, making a difference in their lives and in the world”. We are lucky to have the capacity here at Beth Tzedec to offer all of that to you—it is here for the shaping and taking. 

You may have already found your opportunities for deepening your connection to Judaism at Beth Tzedec, whether you were facing difficult personal times, grieving for a loss, engaging with your child’s journey in becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, planning to celebrate an upcoming marriage, or supporting a loved one embarking on a conversion process. Whatever the impetus, those who have taken advantage of opportunities to connect here have found their lives enriched by the experience, finding positive reasons to make Beth Tzedec a personal destination and to build relevant spiritual, cultural and social connections at and through our synagogue. We want to offer more of you more opportunities to deepen those connections, whether through prayer (tefillah), study, or acts of loving kindness (tikkun olam/˙hesed). We say this because we mean it. Please share your ideas with us; please be part of the continuing conversation. We’ll all be richer for it.

Thanks for Tabbing Down and Please Be in Touch!

Thanks to those of you who tabbed down your cards at Rosh Hashanah. We’ve already been in touch to tell you what’s next: Please send your email address to our Membership & Development Coordinator, Sheri Federman, and complete the Volunteer Engagement Form that Sheri will provide. If you didn’t tab down but still wish to get involved, email Sheri—it’s not too late!

I’m sure many of you have thoughts to share about our High Holy Day services and programs. Your feedback is critical to us in planning for next year and the future. Please send your constructive comments to me by email, whether about the Hot Topics! Sessions, the Youth Programs, the Family Service, the Parallel Service or the Sanctuary Service, and if you joined us over the week of Sukkot, please share your thoughts about that too.