Tag Archive | synogogue

A successful work in progress

This past Sunday night, our OJC community and friends celebrated our community. Yes, Rabbi Paula Drill was the honoree for the evening, but—sorry—the night was only in part about her. It was a love-fest that spanned the generations: a night of Jewish learning, music, food and appreciation of one another.  The night was about our community: our heart, our simplicity, our humility, our relationships, our Torah, our mission and our vision.

Paula Gala

In trying to summarize our community’s success, I realize that we have not relied upon any new strategies. We haven’t created any unique ways of doing business; nor have we abandoned our commitment to traditional models of Jewish life. It is the Jewish values exhibited in the building of the Mishkan (the Israelites’ portable sanctuary), described in this week’s Torah portion, that serve as the blueprint for our own community.

The very idea that the people can participate in a process that will invite God’s presence is enough to inspire participation. Perhaps there is an element of guilt or a desire for repentance in their motivation, but after the debacle of the Golden Calf, the Israelites have a chance to merit a legacy. And the project is as much about the process as it is about the ultimate edifice that is constructed. The freewill service to a higher calling adds meaning and the sense of God’s presence to a life that is otherwise enslaved to fear and uncertainty.

God instructs Moses to engage the community by inviting them to donate to the project whatever they are moved to share. Several opportunities are created for that giving by virtue of the many types of materials being collected and utilized in the project. Engagement is transformed into empowerment as each individual becomes a participant in the processes of manufacturing, design and construction.

Hands in

The appointment of Betzalel as project manager, the inclusion of artisans, and the participation of the broader community creates a new dynamic for the Israelites’ engagement with the Divine One. Before this change, leadership was purely hierarchical, and the population was steps removed in relation to God. As a result of the new appointee, the community operates in partnership with its leadership. In partnerships, the success of one is the success of all. Relationships deepen between the volunteers who recognize that they are working together towards a shared vision; relationships also deepen between the volunteers and the leadership, who now recognize the value of the other’s contributions towards a shared goal.

Finally, there is the matter of expectations and of how we define our success. Success can’t be about the number of people who participate or about the amounts they contribute. Success is found in the knowledge that the process of building—serving, empowering, partnering and relating—is an ongoing effort.

hard hats

On Sunday night, we celebrated a milestone for a community in process. God said, “Let them build Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” As we continue the process of building a world deserving of God’s presence, may we continue to merit God’s presence among us.

Rabbi Craig Scheff

A new year, a new web site, my first blog…

Allow me to preface my remarks by saying that Rabbi Drill and I believe we have an important message to share. We believe the OJC has an important message to share. If we didn’t, we probably would have hung up our tallises long ago. In a world where we are being bombarded by messages constantly, often with little relevance to our lives, we believe it is our obligation to share our message as widely and as effectively as possible. That is, in large part, the reason that we launch this second generation of the OJC website today.
Sharing our message in this way, I must admit, does not come so easily to me. I would much rather share our message on a Shabbat morning in synagogue or sitting around a table in my office. I realize, however, that relationship-building can take place in many diverse ways and through many diverse media. As a communicator and a relationship-builder, it is my task to grow in the year ahead, and to learn how to utilize all the different media that can assist us in disseminating our priceless message, in engaging others and in bringing them closer to God and to community.
This website in general, and this blog in particular, will give us the ability to share the pearls of inspiration that we gather from you every day. It is time for those who don’t find themselves regularly within the physical walls of the OJC to know about the Torah that is being revealed in our discussions; the prayers that are being answered every day; and the Divine presence that is made manifest in the acts of selflessness taking place in our community every day.
A new year, a new web site, my first blog…. Truly a shehechiyanu moment!
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