Looking Back and Looking Forward

“For the sake of the Oneness of all Life, I stand here, ready in body and mind, to take upon myself the mitzvah, “You shall love your fellow human being as yourself (Lev. 19),” and may I love and be open to all people, beings and the earth itself- and by this merit may I live each day.”

This year of SHMITA consciousness is moving into the last quarter of our Jewish year. The hit’o’rerut or self-awakening we chant every Friday night as part of the beautiful mystical prayer “Lecha Dodi--welcoming the beloved”, has been one of our goals this past year. Whether this was greater environmental consciousness and action, responding to racial, economic and social inequity, the heightened awareness of how each day counts during our counting of the Omer, or acting out of caring and compassion for the many of our members who have lost parents, siblings, partners, dear friends and heartbreakingly beloved children this past year, as well as those who have celebrated milestones, b’nai mitzvah, new love, new life, new jobs, and refuah shelemah--healing from physical, emotional and spiritual challenges.

As I reflect on the upcoming second anniversary of coming to lead and co-create the next stage of our shared journey in Jewish communal life, it sometimes feels as if a decade has been squeezed into a year. The revitalization of so many areas of our congregational activities, the ongoing return of former members and new members of all ages and the vast array of reflective and song-filled spiritual moments, programs and organizing activities for justice, learning across our various ages and interest areas , artistic and creative explorations across the spectrum, school and family programming, and many more areas of member activity means I have to check our calendar to keep track of what is happening myself in our community.

We must continue to address financial, growth, volunteer and adequate staffing challenges. We promise a stronger Teen Program with a new Teen subcommittee comprised of education committee members, staff members Rivka Jarosh, Julie Benioff, our new teen coordinator for next year, Julia Weekes and I.  Along with our teen leaders Talya Laver and Lila Sternberg-Sher, we laid out the plans for next year with renewed energy. Our Shabbat experience has continued to deepen and expand with Rabbi Yael, Julie Benioff, Rivka Jarosh and Gabby Kaplan Meyer’s partnership in our services and programs. With Rabbi Simcha’s co-leadership, our new Beit Shabbat- Pause and Refresh Your Soul on Shabbat afternoons, which had fifty individuals cycle through 6 meetings at our home, was a welcomed addition.

As we enter the summer months, I want to thank Mishkan President David Piver, and Vice-President Ellen Tichenor for their leadership and tireless commitment to our community’s thriving; our executive committee, and especially Board members Steve Perkiss, Lynne Iser, Andy Soloway, John Schapiro, and Sharon Gornstein who are cycling off after guiding us through some trying times. Committee chairs Anndee Hochman and Karen Smith, and High Holy Day volunteer coordinator Harriet Dichter are also stepping down from years of leadership in their respective areas and have contributed so much to our community. Thank these people- and others I may have not been sensitive to mention- when you see them! Hoda’ah- gratitude is an ancient and core Jewish practice!

I look forward to seeing you in the weeks ahead inside our Mishkan or under heaven’s canopy

at Shabbat under the Stars. Either way, I welcome the ongoing opportunity to meet with you over the summer if your time allows and continue to listen to, guide and accompany you individually and all of us collectively on our Jewish journey. We who are Mishkan Shalom have a mission and direction which I am passionate about and I know there are many more Jews and non-Jewish partners and allies who would thrive here if they knew about us and experienced us. We welcome continued and increased involvement from all our membership to be able to sustain the level of intense offerings we have been generating. There are school and Board membership engagement initiatives investing in growing our community beyond the stabilization of membership we have achieved the last two years at our two hundred households. This engagement, with its simultaneous attendant in-reach and outreach is what lies ahead for us. Yet, we are all members of the in-reach/outreach team; it is in one-to-one relationship building that community happens, that social change occurs and true transformation is possible.

Kayitz tov! Have a wonderful summer (a.k.a. Tammuz, Av and Elul!).

Shul is on for summer!

If you have thoughts or reflections, please let me know at Rabbishawn@mishkan.org or call 215.508.0226 ex. 1, and set up a time to talk and get to know each other better. It would mean a great deal to me to know your thoughts and reflections as I look to a new year ahead.












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