This weekend, we held our annual Aultshuler Scholar in Residence. This year, it was Rabbi Steve Greenberg.
On Friday night, Rabbi Greenberg challenged all of us to imagine what sort of bayit, what sort of home, Temple Shalom could be to all of us. He taught us that generally, the life of a synagogue can be divided up into thee different houses: a beit tefillah (a place to pray), a beit midrash (a place to learn), or a beit kenesset (a place to gather). In some form or fashion, we are some combination of all three, and different synagogues will emphasize these houses in different ways.
And so I am left to wonder: who are we? What type of bayit is Temple Shalom? To answer that question, I really do believe that we have to be honest about how we personally connect to the Jewish tradition. The focus of our congregation in some ways reflect the values that you embody. In what ways do you connect to our place, our people, our teachings? Is it through study, prayer, action, or some combination?
Rabbi Larry Kushner teaches that there are three types of Jews: head Jews, heart Jews, and hand Jews. This is a riff off of Pirkei Avot, which teaches us that “Upon three things the world stands, on Torah, worship, and acts of loving kindness.” We connect to the Jewish tradition in different ways, and in different combinations, given where we may be in our lives. And when we can articulate the ways that we have positively connected before, and where we are with all of this in our present lives, then we have the ability to envision who we would also like to be, to determine what sort of house we would like to continue to work to build together.
This past weekend of study I found really thought provoking and engaging. Rabbi Greenberg gave us a lot to chew on, and I feel like we would be loosing a rich opportunity were it to be the end of the conversation! Coffee date anyone?