Rabbi’s Review – August 2018

Flight to Excellence

Dear Friends,

Some messages just stick with you. Here’s one that totally sticks with me.

A couple years ago I had the opportunity to learn from a leading synagogue and Jewish communal consultant in Boston regarding the interests of Jews in our 21st century communities. We were considering ways to transform the congregation which I was at that time serving in Massachusetts. The consultant then dropped his whammy. He declared, “Jews are on a flight to excellence.”

Consider it, “Jews are on a flight to excellence.”

He was right. We seek the best schools, camps and colleges for our children. We find the best doctors for our treatment. We take the best trips that our means can support, and we look for the best seats in the theatre or the stadium. We are on a flight to excellence. We do not accept mediocrity.

No, we do not accept mediocrity. Rather, we expect excellence. And, that truth motivates my commitment to synagogue life as a rabbi – as your Rabbi – and my expectation for the work and leadership for Temple Beth El in this transitional period, and beyond. In every facet of Temple life in which I engage, from the Bema to the Office to the classroom to the boardroom, and even in the hallway and the parking lot (where some of the most substantive conversations transpire), I expect excellence, because I suspect that you expect excellence, too.

Yet, have we pondered what excellence in synagogue life might look like? For our Temple Beth El, might it include…

  • Is it leaving a Shabbat Service inspired? I think so.
  • Is it our Temple leaders being fulfilled and finding meaning in a Board or committee meeting? I think so, too.
  • Is it the faculty knowing the needs and interests of each child, so they feel valued and validated as their Jewish identities emerge? Yes.
  • Is it that quiet smile and sigh when walking into the building, because it is spotless, beautiful, and looks so fresh and welcoming? You bet.

And, what else? I’d like to know what you expect in synagogue excellence. Send me your thoughts by email, or call or drop by, or stick your head in my office with a comment. I just might post some ideas on our website or in a future bulletin. Moreover, I’ll be certain that we take them to heart. Why?

Because… Jews are on a flight to excellence. Indeed!

Rabbi Douglas Kohn