Our 30th/“Lamed” Anniversary Still Learning, Striving, Caring

Shalom and welcome to the Jewish rhythms of a new year. This year, 5779 in the Jewish calendar, marks the 30th anniversary of our first High Holy Days as a Reconstructionist community. From generation to generation, we ReGenerate our commitment to our Statement of Principles, our relationships and our evolving reason for being a community.

Using the ancient tool of Gematria, where each Hebrew letter is also a number, "30" is represented by the Hebrew letter "Lamed" and is our guidepost for the year. The shape of the Lamed, the tallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, can be seen as a winding path in three sections. 

During our annual community meeting study session, our members pointed out that these three sections could stand for the three pillars in our Statement of Principles: Torah (Teaching/Learning); Avodah (Spiritual Practice, Ritual and Prayer) and Tikkun Olam/Gemilut Hasadim (Activism, Justice and Caring for Each Other).

If we explore further, we learn that the lamed is a word unto itself: Lamed means to learn and serves as the root for lilmod, to embody and lilamed, to teach or actualize what is learned Lamed is also used as a direction toward action – to move toward or to become. In this our 30th/Lamed year we embrace the foundational tenets of our Statement of Principles which propel us to the action required of these times. We will explore how we take care of ourselves as we heal a broken world. What do we need to sustain ourselves as a community and as individuals while rising to the times we were made for?

We join together for these High Holy Days and Fall Festivals to discover what lies ahead as we ReGenerate and celebrate our sacred connections to community and the world.

As the year begins, we join with nearly 100 member congregations of POWER and affiliates in the effort to register thousands of new voters. Our city, state and nation will be shaped for years to come beyond this one election. Our Jewish values, and our own Mishkan Shalom statement of principles, compel us to rise above cynicism or apathy and get involved. We will do so in the weeks ahead!

Rabbi Yael and I have been preparing with energy and excitement for our sixth High Holy Days together at Mishkan throughout the summer in a spiritual leadership partnership I continue to be grateful for. Our returning President Ellen Tichenor, and the Mishkan Board, Committee chairs and staff have been working through the summer to prepare for this 5779. We welcome our dynamic new Education and Youth Director, Rabbi Joysa Winter, who is already making her skill, compassion and energized engagement known.

I want to recognize and appreciate our continuing and new Board members and committee chairs, and our amazing staff. Our passionate co-chairs of Mishkan@30: ReGeneration campaign, David Piver, Keely Newman and founding member Irv Ackelsberg have worked tirelessly for over a year to get us 2/3 of the way to our goal of $950,000. This will serve to reduce our mortgage and free up funds for our mission, rebuild reserves and address staff, programming and building needs. We have a strong team all around as we continue to grow consciously the last three years in a row to our current 230 member households. Welcome new members and bring your friends who might be interested as well

We are poised to move to a new phase in the life of our community as we enter our fourth decade together. Founding members can join the new generation of members to engage more actively in our mission and vision.  Please read Ma Hadash weekly and visit our website often to stay informed.. Please look at the wide-array of educational and programmatic offerings coming this year and get involved in volunteering and/or participating. Our immersive Shabbat School returns for three Shabbat mornings this year in the winter months after two successful pilot years! Members Julie Meyer and Billy Linstead-Goldsmith co-chair our revitalized Green Team and sustainability efforts as part of our ongoing HAZON seal of Sustainability initiative.

In the coming year, feel free to ask about our renewed Israel-Palestine discussion and action group. A few of us convened this summer to explore issues related to white privilege, bias, and racism so that we are also looking internally as we participate in activist work in the world around us. You can refer to our Kol Shalom issues from last April and May for more articles in this regard (https://mishkan.org/committee/kol-shalom-read-our-monthly-newsletter). Tikkun Olam board rep, Seth Horwitz, would be happy to discuss this with you, as would I.

On Shabbat weekend of September 7-8th we will have an opportunity to lean into renewed commitment and connections in a full weekend of dynamic learning, prayer, and sustenance. Rabbi Yael, Rabbi Joysa and I will all be on hand for Kabbalat Shabbat. 

These Yamim Noraim/Days of Awe are our 30th/Lamed together. As we enter our 31st year let us raise the bar of involvement and demonstrate greater awareness of what it means to be a stakeholder in Mishkan Shalom. Thank you to those who have begun to move towards greater commitment through volunteer time and financial contributions.

As I take these words upon myself, I assess my own leadership of service, my partnering, parenting and friendships. I see my contributions and growth, and more often than not, my falling short of the person I long to be in this precious one life. If I have unintentionally hurt or missed the mark with any of you, please let me know in kindness so we may move into this next year with a more open heart together. As I begin the sixth year serving our community, please let me know better ways to do so or ways that we can better support each other in conscious Jewish community.

Let us examine, explore and commit to move forward (the Lih of Lamed!) in strength and deeper engagement. This is going to be a remarkable year. Elul tov v’Shanah Tovah U’Mitukah--wishing all of us and our precious world rebirth and renewal in the year ahead.


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