DAY 458: Numbers, Holidays, and Crafting a Special Sauce

October 1, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 458: Numbers, Holidays, and Crafting a Special Sauce

Dear Hevreh,

On Kol Nidre, I challenged our community to build something special that will last. Yet if we are truly going to build something special then throughout this process we must identify the ingredients that will go into our “special sauce.” Identifying these ingredients will require opportunities for us to come together on an individual and communal basis to share our Jewish passions with one another, which means that one of the key indicators for knowing that we are on our way to crafting our special sauce is how successful we are at coming together and showing up at schul.

Enter Exhibit A…Holiday attendance. I’m not talking about the High Holidays, but rather the joyous holidays of Sukkot, Sh’mini Atzeret, and Simhat Torah. Last year (2012/5773), we had 8 services (4 in the morning and 4 in the evening) to celebrate the holidays in the traditional manner. Yet, we only achieved a minyan twice during those 8 occasions, once for a morning service and once for an evening service, and for both of those minyanim we had precisely 10 people.

This year (2013/5774), we changed our priorities and focused our holiday observance on what would bring people together and help them connect to the meaning of the holidays while also celebrating our tradition. The results? Two morning services (one for Sukkot and one for Sh’mini Atzeret/Simhat Torah) in which we reached more than the necessary quorum for a minyan, and two evening celebrations (one for Sukkot and one for Simhat Torah) that reached 27 people and 17 people respectively. Not to mention our special Mission Lulav and Etrog that brought this wonderful mitzvah to 9 individuals, many of whom would not have been able to experience this mitzvah without us coming to them.

Think about it for a moment. One year we struggled to get a minimum number of people to perform our hallowed Jewish holiday rituals, and the next year we not only reached that critical mass but we far surpassed it in terms of attendance and quality, giving more members of our community an opportunity to spend time together and (especially during our fabulous Rabbi’s Tisch last Thursday night), to share our unique Torah that will form the ingredients of our “special sauce.”

These numbers alone will not create our special sauce, but they do indicate that we are enjoying and spending more time in the kitchen with one another to make that sauce together.

Kol Tuv,

Rabbi Ari Saks

Category : Rabbi's Journal Sh'mini Atzeret Simhat Torah Sukkot Yom Kippur
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