We are affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the association of Conservative congregations in North America.
Pesach has come and gone and we are now in the period of the counting of the Omer leading up to Shavuot. Each night when it gets dark we say He-ne-ni Moo-chan Oom-zoo-mahn L’ka-yem Metz-vote Ah-say Shel S’fir-aht Ha-Omer; I am ready to fulfill the mitzvah of counting the Omer. We follow this declaration with the blessing for the Omer and then count the new day for forty-nine days from the second day of Pesach to Shavuot. By counting these days we recall our people’s freedom from Egyptian slavery along with G-d giving us the gift of Torah on Shavuot. As we count the Omer we turn our attention to the revelation of the Torah that is so essential for our spiritual existence. Yes, we became a free people at the conclusion of the Passover events, but we did not become a viable people until we received the Torah with its moral, ethical and practical laws and lessons. The parallels to this time of year’s religious practice and our congregational life at Beth El are remarkable.
We are looking forward to the next phase in our restructuring and reinventing process, the hiring of a permanent full time spiritual leader. We have spent a lot of time and energy transitioning from information gathering and self reflection and expressing our views on a new direction for Beth El to implementing what we have learned. To continue to accomplish our goals we need to count on you! Some congregants have already stood up and have been counted. Thank you to all who have shared their vision of the future for Congregation Beth El. The future of Congregation Beth El is the responsibility of all of us. Please become part of the process and help us make our shul a vibrant haven for Conservative Judaism for many years to come.
Just as the Children of Israel moved from being a weak nation of people with a slave’s mentality to a free, strong people with laws and social and moral structure; so we too must move forward. We must transition from where we are now, a slowly shrinking, relatively stagnant congregation to an exciting, growing congregation that people want to join and in which the members want to participate. As Rabbi Tarfon teaches us in Pirke Avot Chapter 2 Mishna 20: Ha-yohm Kah-tzar, V’ham-la-cha M’roo-ba; the day is short, the task is great. The time is now! We cannot afford to wait any longer to make radical changes in our congregation. This will not be easy and we know that everyone will not be 100% satisfied. Yet, we must put our personal agendas aside and work together for the overall good of Congregation Beth El. No matter who the Congregation votes to have as our Rabbi, we must all come together as one community. Our house cannot stand divided! We must embrace the new dues structure program and give our voluntary dues portion willingly. Even when we do not agree with each other, we need to agree that we can disagree. Respecting each others opinions, talking face to face and working together are the only ways our shul can survive. We must stop assuming that everyone has a hidden or personal agenda in everything they do and welcome differences as well as similarities. When we can join together in trust, then we can do great things!
At this important time of change in the life of our Congregation, we all must step up and be counted. This is your shul, open for you seven days a week, everyday of the year. We are working very hard to shape the future of our congregation and we need your help. Please join us and be part of this exciting process! Let’s take the next step together. As Rabbi Shammai says in Pirke Avot Chapter 1 Mishna 15 Eh-more M’aht V’ah-say Har-bay, say little and do much; greet every person with a cheerful face. So, put on your best smile and join us in this important journey as we work toward the future of our shul! Congregation Beth El – where friends become family.
Neil, Helen and Steve