At the annual meeting, Rabbi Birnholz shared an article from Hadassah Magazine, entitled “Group Hug.”
You can search on the internet for the article, or you can find a PDF version on our Temple Website.
Below is the written version of what he shared at the meeting based on that article.
My job is to guide through the “between”, to teach theology, ritual, artifact and text, to help the members of our congregation go through between, and to give people opportunity to create connection between and with others in our congregation. I do this in classrooms, on the Bimah, in the Garden and in your homes…
To create this sacred community, it is not just the role of the Rabbi or the staff or the Board. The article makes that clear. The whole community, at so many levels, members, children, board, staff, even folks who come to help us take care of our campus, have to make the effort to bring this value and connection to life.
This “Relational Judaism”, this attending to the between as a collective, is what takes a Temple from being a building to a human community. We all know that there are plenty of places to learn Judaism and do Judaism. What is different is that all of our efforts at learning and doing are as a community, humans working together. We use the power of Chevruta, fellowship or minyan, critical mass, to reinforce or enrich the experience. We all know that when there is someone to inspire, witness, share, support, it makes it different.
This is not just my vision. I see it all around. In just the past Shabbat cycle in mid-May: I saw this happening as we offered a prayer of caring during our Shabbat Motzi, as a family blessed a new Bar Mitzvah, when I made a caring call that turned into someone offering me the caring support I needed in that moment. We have embodied that sense of sacred and caring community through our study, worship and acts of loving kindness.
Now it is time to do it more! with more people, more energy, more deliberation… consciously and collectively. We have to create the sense of Shalom, build the Home full of Wholeness, harmony, and peace between all of us.