I sat in the back at temple on a recent Friday. Not in my usual spot near the front, and not on the bimah; someone else was taking a turn. We were expecting a call from one of our kids, who was coming home for the weekend and would need a ride, so we wanted to be able to slip out. It was such an unexpected pleasure.
I inadvertently ended up being surrounded by friends. I had a new friend on one side of me and my husband on the other, and I had old friends, from the temple and from life, behind me. It felt familiar and comfortable, and I found myself easily relaxing into the service, able to put the hectic week behind me. Billy and Sarah Kim helped by contributing their soulful music and Rabbi’s sermon about Israel moved me. I prayed and I meditated. I had a chance to observe how everyone else was enjoying the service. We were observing Ed’s father’s yahrzeit, and I felt the full force of community when we stood along with others who were doing the same, and the rest of the congregation stood to honor and recognize our loss. That is always so powerful for me. I laughed, along with everyone, when a visitor said he never thought he would hear a Beatles song in a synagogue. Were you there? We sang John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’—so beautiful. It was really just a typical Friday service, but it fed my soul. I felt so grateful for that quiet time of spiritual renewal.
Souper Bowl Sunday was that same weekend. Dave Hall was bustling with activity when I arrived with the Board’s soup entry. Everyone was busy warming up their soup and decorating their tables, and the friendly, competitive banter had already started. “Ice cream soup? No way, that’s cheating!” As the religious school kids started pouring in, it was clear how proud they were of their contributions. Families sat around at the center tables and talked. Everyone, young and old, tasted soup until they were just too full to take another sip. The space was filled with people talking and laughing and enjoying each other. The Souper Bowl is always one of our best social events, bringing people of all ages together. I felt so grateful for that boisterous time of socializing with my community.
Reflecting back on that weekend, I realize that we all have opportunities to find what we need from our temple. It may be spiritual or social; it may be learning or doing. It may be lifecycle events, but it is so much more. We are so fortunate to have staff and volunteers who make all of this possible!
For me, the best definition of community involves both giving and receiving. Have you found both at Beth HaTephila? I hope that you’ll take a look at the Engagement Committee (formerly known as the Membership Committee) article in this month’s Menorah and consider how you might get involved.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me to talk about this or anything else you want to share.