Jews Doing Jewish with Other Jews — The Week's End (August 26, 2022)
Aug 25th 2022

Dear Friends, 

In the '90s, I worked for Hillel in Miami, Florida. At the time the mission of the organization was to maximize the number of Jews doing Jewish with other Jews. Since I left the organization, more than 20 years ago, it underwent a lot of change. 

Earlier this week, Hillel launched its latest rebranding, and a new tagline of only four words: “All Kinds of Jewish.” Regarding this rebrand, Adam Lehman, president and CEO of Hillel International was quoted in saying: “Whatever a student’s race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, activities and interests, or level of Jewish knowledge and affiliation, there is a place for them at Hillel.”

When I read that quote, I felt inspired and immediately thought that this is how I want people to feel about Beth Tzedec when they walk out the door, or after a conversation with someone from our professional staff or Spiritual Leadership Team. There is a place for everyone at Beth Tzedec.  In addition to the list that Adam Lehman mentioned, we also don’t want to turn away people because of their financial situation. 

In the sixth aliyah of Parashat R'eih, we read:

If, however, there is a needy person among you, one of your kin in any of your settlements in the land that your God is giving you, do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kin. Rather, you must open your hand and lend whatever is sufficient to meet the need.

The Hebrew words for “you must open your hand’ are patoach tiftach. It is a command. You must do it. 

We are trying our best to do that at Beth Tzedec. We have lowered the barrier for people under 40 by instituting a no dues membership model. Rather, we are doubling down on a relationship membership model.

My September is already dotted with Zooms, phone calls and coffee dates with our new members. Like other members of the Spiritual Leadership Team, I have been assigned a good chunk of new members to be their point person and their relationship manager for all of their shul-related and spiritual needs. Similar to Hillel’s aspirations, we hope to attract a diverse array of people to Beth Tzedec.

Our six values—pray, learn, celebrate, connect, care as well as give & get—are broad and inclusive. There is a place for all kinds of Jewish experiences  at Beth Tzedec. 

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin