What does Jewish community do for me?
While in rabbinical school, a mentor of mine said “if you want to understand what someone values, look at where they’re spending their money – there is no greater values statement than someone’s bank statement.” For better or worse, this pandemic has forced many of us to reassess our financial commitments, often playing our values against one another, begging the question: what is a luxury and what is essential?
Another rabbi, Rabbi Paul Kipnes of a Reform congregation in CA, was asked recently by a former community member why she should bother joining a Jewish community – how would it make her life better or different? He responded that if she meant “better” as in physically healthier, richer, or more mentally stable – all things we desperately need right now – that it would not, and she should look for a gym, a job and a therapist instead. What he said next I then found incredibly moving, and I wanted to share a piece of it with you today:
“Here is what joining a [community] will do:
Being part of a [community] means promulgating values that you and your tradition hold dear.
Being part of a community is like ensuring that your room is still there even after you go away to college. You can always come home. And even if you don’t show up, we are still here.
Being part of a community teaches future generations that being a Jew matters, even if you aren’t a power user of a synagogue at the moment.
Being part of a community means that there will always be High Holidays services for you and the community.
It means that you always have a place to turn when you are in need.
It means that there is always Torah in your community
It means that you have a spiritual home.
It means that your values are played out through social justice.
It means that you have a place to go to sing Mi Shebeirach (a prayer for healing) when you or someone you know is in pain.
It means that you take responsibility for the next generation, like the previous one did for yours….
And….It will make you feel more beautiful because you feel better about yourself when you are spiritually centered.
You will feel richer because you will have enriched your life and those of others.
You will feel smarter because you will be able to partake in 5,000 years of Jewish knowledge…”
My hope is that BJEP can be that community for you, and I wanted to offer a few things that you can do to ensure your family’s connection to Jewish community in the coming year:
- Register for BJEP for the 2020-21 school year.**
- Register for a Taste of BJEP – Virtual Open House, to learn more about our improvements and adaptations for this year.
- Schedule a time to chat with Rabbi Myra to discuss your questions and your family’s specific needs.
**At BJEP we are committed to providing a quality Jewish education for any child – if cost is prohibitive for your family, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May this be a year where we are able to see our values brought to life through the beauty and joy of community.