B’nai Israel gatherings are warm occasions, community alive in celebrating rituals while reflecting on life meaning…sharing with one another in life’s questions and challenges…as well as the joys…Shabbat mornings, Shabbat evenings, Sunday morning Tefilla with the children…lots of warmth and caring…and time after time visitors gushing with appreciation for being whole-heartedly welcomed.
Lately we have had a number of special contexts bringing us together to celebrate life’s blessings and people with whom we share some of them…here at B’nai Israel. Particularly impressive was the Israel Independence celebration we held last month with over 100 people attending a multi-faceted event spearheaded by Melissa Edwards in a way that blended quality programming with an all volunteer effort resulting in no costs to the synagogue for carrying out the event. That weekend was extraordinary because that Sunday event followed the most recent (and final for the season) Shabbat Seder with again over 100 people attending to celebrate our incoming Board of Directors. And, we had strong attendance at our Shabbat morning service, as well.
What is gratifying about our leaders is that most are committed to being part of the Shabbat experience at B’nai Israel, the spiritual life of the synagogue, in addition to devoting their time to the “business” of running CBI during such difficult economic times. The emphasis is on everyone, both on the Board and in their committee work, contributing time, energy and expertise to see that all our gatherings and programs are meaningful and well-attended.
As I indicated at the community Passover Seder, what makes that institutional celebration uniquely unusual and special at CBI is that you have extended family enjoying one another, something not commonly found in synagogue 2nd night Seders that often serve needs of the unaffiliated more than coming alive as energizing community events for those who belong.
All this is exciting in that it indicates even with the challenges to our growth and ability to keep our synagogue on an even keel financially, we are living up to our name: B’nai Israel, “Descendents of Israel…wrestlers with God..engaging one another in doing mitzvot. While our numbers need to grow, the qualities in all of you that take part are wonderful…filled with blessings you emanate in your participation, contribution and love for this community.
These are outstanding characteristics by which to celebrate the holiday that gives us our context for being community and living as community. In a few days we will welcome Shavuot, HaShem’s “Giving the Torah”, means by which to govern our actions as B’nai Israel. I love how incoming president Fred Zola says that, with due respect for Roberts Rules, the Torah is his By-Law! And, he shows it in his warm welcome to as much participation in leadership and governance of B’nai Israel as there are people to join in the process.
So, in continued celebration and appreciation for who we are, we have several opportunities to come together, yet again…first with our friends from Beth Sholom in Napa, at Diamond Creek Vineyard on Sunday, June 5, for an experience you do not want to miss (just the beauty of Diamond Creek is a blessing beyond words, a place never open to the public). What an inspiring way to set the mood for the Shavuot holiday! Then, we shall welcome Shavuot Tuesday, June 7 at 7 pm followed by the Shavuot morning service on Wednesday, June 8 at 10 am with the reading of the 10 Commandments as part of the Torah service and Yizkor. And, what a wonderful way to complete the “program” year: the Bar Mitzvah of David Gewing on June 18.
So much to enjoy and appreciate as community: a fun-filled auction and dinner party, offsite for the first time, on June 12, and more to come, later in the summer. I am thrilled that CBI will host radio personality Marty Lurie, who talks baseball on weekends before and after Giants games, in an evening of conversation… ways to build community…through baseball and Judaism, B’nai Israel style, on Wednesday, August 17.
Stay tuned and involved, as we turn ceremonies, rituals, prayers and other commemorative occasions into life long memories, community come-alive, honoring Torah in ways we treat one another and welcome others to join our growing community.
Yasher koach to everyone!
Enjoy your summer!