Eternity. Endurance. Active Force within Bonding. Foundation. Roots. Grounding. Connection. Creation.
Today I offer a tribute to my congregation, The Jewish Community of Amherst (JCA). Our name reflects an actual reality. We are truly a community. In a class last week, there was a discussion, and a certain amount of lamenting about the state of community within congregational life. As I listened, I realized (not for the first time, but through a new lens) that we really meet the major criteria that were being tossed around in the discussion/lamentation. Families and individuals go to the JCA regularly to Bond through worship, socializing, celebration, learning, and social activism for the larger community. There are more and more situations in which we see families with young kids alongside the older generations whose kids are long grown and living far off. The kids seem to really enjoy their time in the religious school there (even if they protest the injustice of showing up on a sunny spring Sunday morning). This community has become a Foundation and a locus of Connection for many.
What does this have to do with today, in particular, in this week of Yesod? We are reaching the end of our rabbi's six-month sabbatical. What I have observed over this time has been a remarkable coalescing of energy within the community. In the rabbi's absence, the community has become an Active Force in its own leadership in a way that can only be described as a DLTI dream scenario. DLTI? Davvenen Leadership Training Institute - A program that helps worship leaders strengthen their skills in enlivening, enriching, and deepening communal worship, including finding ways to engage the community in Active participation in leadership. It has been a tour-de-force of organizing, community members stepping up to lead services, people learning to do new things we've never had to think much about because the rabbi always does them. This was my year to finally commit to learning how to chant Esther and to tackling the musical prayer modes of the Shalosh Regalim (the three pilgrimage festivals).
To clarify my role there, while I do have a professional relationship to the JCA, I am also a member among members, doing my part to keep things moving during this time. It's been like having a real-life learning lab at my disposal as I develop as a Hazzan. Because of this, I have experienced this period very much through the dual lenses of community member and community leader. As I stood before the community last night in my leadership role, I was honored to acknowledge everyone there in their Active efforts in the deepening of the Roots of our community, effort which will surely contribute to an Enduring Foundation as we continue on our way. I feel proud to be a part of this, and so I share it with you all today, and offer another tip of the hat to JCA members who may be reading today.
May you be blessed today with Enduring Foundation through your best efforts. May you be an Active Force in the Creation of Grounding Connections that can support you.