Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Every Willing Heart

from the pages of Kadima, the newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno:

From the desk of …                    
 Rabbi Barry Schwartz

Every Willing Heart

The Torah bids us to build the holy community with gifts from “every willing heart.” 

This beautiful phrase is first mentioned in connection with our ancestors building of the Tabernacle in the desert. “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every willing heart.” (Exodus 25:1) 

The Tabernacle was the forerunner of the Temple in Jerusalem which in turn inspired the institution of the synagogue. It is the synagogue, often called the kehillah kedosha (holy community), that has sustained Judaism and the Jewish people for two thousand years. In all this time what has not changed is the notion that the community is built upon the unique gifts of each individual. 

Allow me to take this opportunity to thank three individuals who have given the gift of their willing heart to Congregation Adas Emuno: 

Alan Spector has served as President for the past two years, bringing with him the gift of making the congregation a place of social connection. Alan would take a look at the calendar, see gaps in our programming, and urge us to fill those gaps with events that brought together families. At the same time, he fulfilled all the behind-the-scene roles of a synagogue president that are often taken for granted. He did all this even while tending to his mother’s move from Florida and his daughter’s wedding. We trust that we will continue to benefit from Alan’s energy and enthusiasm. 

Student Cantor Luke Hawley, by the time of this writing, will be a fully ordained cantor and moving on to his first full position as such. We were blessed with the gift of Luke’s beautiful voice this year. My personal favorite was his singing of Hashkivenu each Shabbat; it never failed to move me. We wish Luke well, even as we welcome our new student cantor Allison Lopatin. 

And we also bid a fond farewell to our Religious School Director of the past six years, Jennifer Goldstein. Jennifer’s gift was evident each and every Sunday morning when she greeted us with her broad smile. We will miss her organizational and pedagogic abilities to be sure, but even more the genuine caring and warm relationships she has engendered with our school families over the years. 

The same chapter of Exodus that speaks of every willing heart concludes, “And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” (25:8)   Our sages immediately noticed something special about this verse. The sentence should end with the word it but instead concludes with them. God’s presence, we are being taught, is not found in a building per say. Rather, it is found in the hearts and souls of the people who fashion and sanctify the building. 

A place becomes holy when people come together and share of their gifts. We are ever grateful for every willing heart that makes Congregation Adas Emuno our holy community. 

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