Monday, September 1, 2014

4 Weeks of Elul 5774: Week Two: Our Communal Lives

Dear Friends,

Over the course of the Yamim Noraim – the High Holy days – this year you will be hearing a lot about the concept of Engagement.  At our Annual Meeting this past May, our president, Ellen Abrams, spoke about the concept of Audacious Hospitality.  What do these two concepts mean and, more important, how do they relate to our lives?

Engagement refers to the many ways that we can be involved in our community.  The technological advancements that we take for granted in our everyday lives have made it possible for us to communicate instantaneously with one another.  We have access to unlimited information.  At the same time, however, these gifts come with a price.  Too many of us are feeling isolated.  We can communicate with anybody – and yet, our methods of communication all too often are impersonal and insulated from real human connection.  It is within the context of the Synagogue community that we have the ability to interact and bond with others on a higher spiritual plane.

Audacious Hospitality is a way of seeing our community through the eyes of each person who walks through our doors or is connected to us through membership, life-cycle or common concerns.  It is up to all of us – lay and professional – to ensure that every person who comes to Temple Emanuel not only feels welcomed, but they also should feel like they are a part of our sacred community.

As we enter into this second week of Elul, let us focus our High Holy Day preparation on the role that community plays in our lives – and the important ways that all of us contribute to creating a loving community.

The following questions can help you to center your Elul preparations on how you can make a difference for good in your congregation, community and, indeed, the world itself.  Again, this is by no means a complete list.  Hopefully these questions will provide you with a starting point for examining and improving your relationship with the Jewish community.

1.      Have I taken advantage of all that my congregation and community have to offer?

2.      Have I allowed my political differences with others to isolate me from those with whom I disagree?

3.      Have I taken my own comfort for granted and “looked the other way" when I saw poverty or despair in my community?

4.      When asked to help support the important institutions in my community, have I given as much as I could or should?

5.      Have I spoken out when I perceived discrimination or inequity based on economics, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation in our community?

6.      Have I been vocally supportive of Israel during her time of need?  How have I dealt with those whose attitudes vis-à-vis Israel are different from mine?

7.      When I am at synagogue, have I done all that I can to make others feel welcomed in the same way that I want to feel welcome?

Again, I welcome your comments and suggestions for additional questions and formats that we can use.   If answering them causes you to want to speak to one of the Temple clergy, Rabbi Immerman, Cantors Heit and Sacks and I would welcome the opportunity.  Note that all of these materials will also be available in hard copy at the Temple Office. If you know of anyone else who might want to receive these mailings – whether or not they are members of the congregation, contact Janet Bronitsky -
L’shanah Tovah U’metukah – May you have a good and sweet new year,

Rabbi Joe Black



No comments:

Post a Comment