Rabbi Joe Blair
December 24, 2007
(Last entry in this series)
I am hoping that we can establish more adult education activities in a broader variety of topics. As an example of these, think of the programs on Security in Israel and the Jewish View on the Body & Energy programs that we held last fall. Think also of the Holocaust Education Programs as another example. These are separate from and in addition to any rabbinic educational offerings I have or may offer.
I want to encourage more participation in services by congregants, and am encouraging Sarah Grove-Humphries to conduct some song sessions to teach words and music to things old and new that we can sing during services. The goal is to add to the repertoire of the congregation, leading to the institution of a Shabbat Shirah (Sabbath of Song). In the longer term, this could be the nucleus of a singing group within the congregation that might assist with services periodically or perform in other venues.
To support the goal of more participation by congregants in our services, I will continue to offer Torah and Haftarah reading support, adult B’nai Mitzvah training, and Gabbai training sessions. I am also considering offering a Shaliach Tzibur training on how to be a service leader, and a session on writing Divrei Torah (a sermon, homily, or Devar Torah).
I am thinking of holding a few ‘healing services’ in the course of the year if there is interest.
I also want to float to the congregation at this point the idea of trying to create a Shabbat Chavurah, where perhaps as often as once a month, we would hold a Shabbat morning program for all interested members, including families and singles, people of all ages, all getting together for a brief Shabbat morning service, and after the service, offering some child friendly Jewish themed activity at the same time as a program aimed at adults; for both programs the themes of each would be coordinated so everyone would be focusing on the same thing, at whatever level they could. We would then have a pot luck lunch to follow, at which all could get together and talk about the theme as a community of learners including all ages, while eating. Perhaps this could also be a program that includes members from both congregations, and alternates location.
I am delighted that Lyrissa will offer a concert at THOI in February. I would love to see an expansion of the idea of presenting performances at the congregation, including both Jewish events, and other things of general interest. Our facility has excellent acoustics and is a beautiful setting for many kinds of presentations.
All of these ideas are broadly connected to the concept of making the synagogue truly a communal center, as well as a Jewish house of gathering, learning, and worship. The old saying is true: Ein chadash tachat hashemesh (there is nothing new under the sun).
This is a rough idea of what I have been working on in the last year, and what I plan to work towards in the coming year. I will be glad to respond to questions.
Rabbi Joe Blair
December 2nd, 2007