I am in San Diego attending the Union of Reform Judaism convention. Together with some 5,000 Reform Jews, we are considering the state of Jewish life today and the challenges that face our congregations.
While Reform is the largest of the Jewish movements, and while Shaaray Tefila is a strong and vibrant congregation, we share many of the same questions and dilemmas that confront most congregations. Some of these include:
- Making the Temple an important setting for learning and prayer, not only for children, but for adults also.
- Promoting the sense of “community” among our members even as we live in numerous towns and are spread throughout Northern Westchester.
- As our lives are so busy and filled with an array of important commitments, offering you, our members, a form of Judaism that is both enriching and compelling as we experience the different stages of our lives.
- All congregations face financial challenges. While we refer to our “annual dues,” the reality is that this revenue alone does not satisfy our expenses. Also, we remain committed to the ideal that all people are welcome in our congregation, regardless of their financial means, and we will never depart from that policy. So we too face significant financial challenges.
- While the list of contemporary challenges could go on and on, perhaps the greatest of them all concerns our teaching and experiencing a form of Judaism that gives spiritual and moral meaning to our lives, links us to other Jews throughout the world, and inspires all of us to affirm our place within a sacred tradition that seeks to bring blessing to us and our world.
Yes, these are significant challenges. And we will persist in our efforts to address them. But for sure, each and every one of us has an important place within our congregation, and each of us represents a sacred link in the “unbroken chain” of Jewish tradition.
Rabbi David Greenberg