Now that we are through all the holidays, and have a little time for reflection, I’d like to ask you to consider following up on the High Holy Days in a few ways.
First, Rabbi Ohriner gave a splendid sermon on simple, sacred gifts and the building of community. The takeaway from that sermon was an invitation to sign up on-line at for some opportunities. Some of you have already done this, but we hope for many more. The choices are varied, specific and time-delimited.
I wanted to add some thoughts on community. Many years ago I came upon an article about community by John McKnight, an expert in community development. He says that community incorporates a number of strands. Communities “are built upon the recognition of the fullness of each member because it is the sum of their capacities that represents the power of the group.” In other words, the community recognizes that every individual is valued and needed, and so makes a place for everyone, a way for every person to contribute their talents.
This leads to the next aspect of community: collective effort. He writes, “It is obvious that the essence of community is people working together. One of the characteristics of this community work is shared responsibility that requires many talents.” It seems to me that this is an essential difference between a community and an institution. In institutions and organizations we depend on someone else, an often faceless them, to do for us. In community, we understand that everyone contributes and everyone benefits.
From this and much other thought and experience, I can sum things up simply: community is not just something you have; it’s something you do. So I join Rabbi Ohriner in inviting you to sign up and add to the richness of shared responsibility in building our kehillah kedoshah (sacred community).
Eighteen years ago I gave a sermon called “Bethdavidville.” I concluded with a paraphrase of Dr. Mcknight: “We all know that community must be the center of our life because it is only in community that we can be Jews. It is only in community that we can find care. It is only in community that we can hear people singing. And if you listen carefully, you can hear the words: ‘I care for you, because you are mine, and I am yours.”
Creating and sustaining such a community belongs to all of us offering our simple, sacred gifts. Please sign up.
The second follow-up is to invite you to reflect with me on the new Mahzor Lev
Shalem. I have heard some feedback, but would be interested in hearing from you. What was your general response to it? Did it help enhance your High Holy Day worship experience? What did you like best? What did you like least? You can simply e-mail me with your thoughts.
Second, we do have a limited number left for sale. If you didn’t buy your own copy yet, you can contact Barbara Biran and order — while supplies last.
Meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.