Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Spirit of '76


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

A Message From Our President

Dr. Lance Strate

The Spirit of '76

I think just about all Americans know that the year 1492 holds special significance, as the year that Columbus “sailed the ocean blue” and arrived at the western hemisphere. We used to say he “discovered the new world,” but now we view the event from a less innocent and less positive perspective. Moreover, for the Jewish people, 1492 represents one of the greatest tragedies in our history, the year we were expelled from Spain.

But this isn’t about 1492. And there may be other years in American history that most of us recall, 1812 for example (because of the war named for it), maybe 1929 for the stock market crash that marked the beginning of the Depression, maybe 1941 for the attack on Pearl Harbor, maybe 1945 for the end of the Second World War.

v But the year that especially resonates for us as Americans is 1776. Even through the American Revolutionary War began in 1775, 1776 is year of our Declaration of Independence. That’s why we consider it the year that the United States of America was founded, never mind the fact that the Revolutionary War didn’t end until 1783, that the 13 states were considered individual sovereign entities in a loose confederation until the adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, and arguably were not completely united until the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865.

But this isn’t about 1776. This is about a year on a slightly older calendar, the year 5776. That, of course, is the year that just began on Rosh Hashanah evening, this past September 13th. The year 5776 holds no special significance in Jewish tradition, of course. Unless we choose otherwise.

So let's choose otherwise. Let's make 5776 a year to remember. A year to look back on. A year that we can be proud of. Let's create the Spirit of 5776 here at Adas Emuno. And that means getting active, getting involved, participating. In our social action initiatives, our adult education programs, our religious school, our fundraising and fun-raising events. And what would the Spirit of 5776 be without including a measure of spirituality itself. On Shabbat, Friday evening services, Saturday morning Torah study, and our festival and holiday celebrations?

When we think of 1776, we think of government of the people, by the people, and for the people, in the words of Abraham Lincoln. And along similar lines, Congregation Adas Emuno has a government that is of our members, by our members, and for our members. You can embrace the Spirit of 5776 by getting involved in our shul's governance, by volunteering, by serving on committees, by stepping up and making yourselves available for temple leadership positions. In 1776, the Continental Congress announced our Declaration of Independence. In 5776, wouldn't it be fitting if Congregation Adas Emuno proclaimed our Declaration of Interdependence. If we acknowledged that we depend upon each other to form a Jewish community, to support each other as members of that community, to maintain our 4,000-year-old, ever-evolving tradition.

We can't do it alone. We can't be fully Jewish by ourselves. We can't survive in isolation. We need each other. We need to join together as a congregation.

Renewing our commitment to our synagogue, declaring our interdependence as a congregation, establishing the Spirit of 5776. Maybe it's a revolutionary notion? Maybe it's an idea whose time has come? Are you ready?

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