Cantor’s Column – May 2018

Celebrating In Community

Cantor Ilan Davidson

For many years, we have been exploring various modes of celebration at Temple Beth El for festivals, holidays, general events, and fundraising. We  have learned much from these various experiments. Some lessons have been what to do and some what not to do. This year, especially, we seem to have hit upon some very successful models, which I hope will continue.

The way we celebrated Purim this year was an example of how we should always celebrate. We have historically separated the adult and children’s celebrations, but this year, we combined them. While still allowing for separate activities, our building was abuzz with activity from 4:00 p.m. into the late night hours, and people could self-select parts or ALL of the celebration. Not surprisingly, most selected ALL, starting with the fun-filled Purim Carnival, run by our Youth Groups, followed by a lively and humorous Purim Spiel and Megillah reading, culminating with an Adult Rock ‘n’ Roll Party of epic proportions (with childcare and youth programs running concurrently).

We have set in place a new policy regarding our Youth Groups and childcare as well, choosing community over convenience. Our new policy is that whenever an event can and should include our Youth- Group-aged children, we will not use them for childcare duties. Instead, we will find others to take on this task. It’s not always convenient, but it shows our youth that we value their participation in the fun, as well as the work. Of course, when an event is not for our youth, we can and should invite them to provide childcare to make it easier on families with young children to attend. We should always plan a donation to the Youth Fund to thank our youth for their work.

Our final lesson of community this year was our Passover Community Seder. So many questioned the timing of the Seder, not on the first or second night, but in her wisdom, Jodi Davidson asked, “Isn’t a Seder in the middle of the holiday better than no Seder at all?” Indeed, for more than 100 members of our community, this rang true, and this affordable community celebration was a huge success. Many thanks to Sisterhood for taking this on each year, and to Jodi for picking up the ball and running with it. For many in our community, this was a meaningful and important celebration of our freedom.

In conclusion, we have learned that celebrating in community was a huge success this year. I am proud to be part of a congregation that has something for everyone. Not every event can be all inclusive. We all make our own choices about what we can afford to do, both in time and financial commitments. Temple Beth El has always provided great opportunities for our time and our donations, from free classes to expensive Gala fundraisers. From huge community celebrations to small parlor experiences, we are a community with a robust calendar of offerings year round.

May we continue to go from strength to strength, together, and learn from all of our experiences.