Friday, September 14, 2012

Our Holiday Season

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

A Message From Our President

Dr. Lance Strate

Our Holiday Season

Summer's end brings to a close a season of vacations and recreations, and signals the start of a new school year for students, teachers, and parents as well. It's a time when daily life seems to speed up, as so many of us get back to business, and things just get busier and busier. The leisurely pleasures of summer fun fade away in a flurry of autumnal activity. 

The summer of 2012 may have been one of the hottest on record, but it also was one of the most productive summers that we've had at Adas Emuno in recent memory. Attendance at our Friday night Shabbat services has been exceptional throughout July and August, even during the weeks when lay leadership substituted while Rabbi Schwartz was away on a well deserved vacation. Making our summer worship all the sweeter was the participation of our new Religious School Director, Annice Benamy, as cantorial soloist, filling the gap between the departure of Cantor Luke Hawley in June and the arrival of our new student cantor, Alison Lopatin, in September. 

Our Board of Trustees continued to work during the summer months, with meetings that stretched almost until midnight, and there have been meetings of many of our committees, including Ritual, Adult Education, Religious School, and Social Action, as well as orientation and training for our Religious School faculty. Annice Benamy organized an ice cream social for our students and prospective students, parents and congregants, and members of the community, and this successful open house made the cover of our local newspaper, Leonia Life. And we held a Havadallah Talk event featuring a screening of the film Connected, where attendance was close to 80!

I think it's safe to say we have a bit of momentum built up as we head into the Jewish holiday season. Unlike that other holiday season, which ends with the celebration of a new year, ours begins with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the Birthday of the World, which also marks the beginning of the ten day period known as the Days of Awe, culminating in Yom Kippur, with the High Holy Days being followed just a few days later by the 8-day festival of Sukkot, and ending with the holiday of Simchat Torah. 

The Jewish holiday season is a time for return, reconnection, and renewal. While some of you have been active participants in Temple events all year round, others return to our shul after a long absence at this time of year, and it is truly a joyous occasion when we have the entire Adas Emuno mishpacha gathered together in sacred celebration. And at the risk of sounding like a Jewish mother, let me ask you why you never call or write, why we don't hear from you more often, why you don't come spend time with us more often? Maybe this year you can stay a bit longer, return more frequently, make Adas Emuno more a part of your life? 

The Jewish holiday season is a time to reconnect, with friends and family and fellow congregants, with our Jewish community, our heritage, spirituality, and tradition. It's a time for reconnection with Adas Emuno, and maybe its time to make that connection to our congregation stronger, more long lasting, more complete. Of course, we all live busy lives, juggle many demands, face many challenges, and it's easy to make everything else a higher priority than our synagogue. But when things really matter, when we celebrate marriage, birth, and the coming of age, and when we must face injury, the failing of health and vitality, and the inevitability of death and mourning, where else do we turn, but to our congregation? Maybe reconnecting and deepening that connection to our congregation at other times can help restore a sense of place, and balance, and meaning to life? 

The Jewish holiday season is a time for renewal. The calendrical cycle begins again, the yearly cycle of Torah readings starts over again, we engage in repentance according to our religious tradition, and reflect on the ways in which we can live better lives. In this time of renewal, why not make this a time to renew your commitment to your congregation?  

Renewing your membership, paying your dues, and donations that go above and beyond the basics are important, there is no denying the fact that we have to pay bills and make ends meet. But there are others ways to contribute as well, by lending a helping hand, by offering services and skills, by participating on committees and in activities, by being present and accounted for. 

We have great momentum to carry us through the Jewish holiday season, and some very exciting events planned for the coming year, and we very much want you to take advantage of all that Adas Emuno has to offer. We also have a great deal of work to do, the need for renewal is a never-ending story, and it will take time, work, and resources to ensure that our congregation continues to survive, and thrive. The responsibility is ours alone, if we don't do it, no one else will. But it can be, it ought to be a labor of love. Now is the time, this is the season, to return, reconnect, and renew, as individuals, and together, as a community. 

L'shana tova, may 5773 be a year of peace and contentment, health and prosperity, joy and inspiration, for you and your family.

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