Synagogues, like people, are born, they grow up, they grow old and they die. And, some in keeping with ancient Jewish tradition, are also resurrected from the dead to experience a new and even better life. As in human life, there are no guarantees that each of the stages will be attained. Some do not live to grow up. Some grow old before their time. Still others never experience the total annihilation of death because those to whom they have given birth carry forward their work and values in ways that are both new and distinctive, and yet have continuity with the past. Many factors account for these varied outcomes in a human or synagogue life. Some we have the power to control, and some we do not. In some cases, the synagogue shapes and creates its own destiny. In others, it is a passive respondent. In the worst of cases it is a helpless victim.
Changes and transitions are coming!
We, leadership and clergy, are not so naïve as to think that changes and transitions in a community materialize overnight without an enormous investment of time and energy by all of us. It is a challenge because those who commit themselves to it may find it an all-consuming way of life! I have already heard from some their non-critical protests: “I spend more waking hours at the synagogue than I do at home!” or, “It’s always on my mind! Sometimes I think it’s more important to me than my real job!” Should you notice this happening to you, let me say in advance, don’t be afraid. What is really occurring is that all of us are continuing to be committed Jews in the most meaningful way. Can that be bad?
Decide for yourself, as if you were one of the founders of Temple Israel, what kind of synagogue you would establish were you now called upon to create it from scratch. The fact is, in a very real way, the very same decisions which had to be made 144 years ago are being made again now. You are there, right now, at the beginning, so choose your own route from the dozens of paths before you. Do you want strong dynamic temple auxiliaries? To feed the hungry, defend the oppressed, correct injustice and promote civic harmony? Quality religious education? A beautiful temple house in which we can all take pride? To decide how things get done around here, be part of the head instead of the tail? Maybe you want to move in new directions never tried before. How about creating…
It’s all possible! It’s all open before us, as well as so much more! Are we dreamers? Then let’s dream together, if you will!! Let us never forget that, “Nothing happens without a dream, and nothing great happens without a great dream!”
Let’s have a meaningful, exciting, peaceful year!