Rabbi’s Review – January 2020


Rabbi Cassi Kail


At the Union of Reform Judaism’s Biennial conference in Chicago, Rabbi Rick Jacobs offered an important message: It is time to widen our Jewish tent. He was referring to our prophet Isaiah’s call. “Enlarge the size of your tent,” he said, “For you shall spread out to the right and the left.”

Rabbi Jacob’s point was that our temples are blessed with so many wonderful community members, and yet there are so many who do not yet feel comfortable within Temple doors. He challenges each of us to consider what we might do to help a diverse group of Jews, and interfaith partners to connect with Jewish community in a substantive and fulfilling way.

I am pleased to say that Temple Beth El will soon be engaging in this important outreach work, with the help of our new Director of Outreach and Inclusion, Doris Jacobson. Her position, thanks to the generosity of four dedicated donors, is inspired by our Outreach and Engagement committees, who have already done some incredible work in this arena. Outreach has created engaging social media, a website, and a thoughtful public relations campaign. Engagement has warmly welcomed new members to our community, with dinners, baskets and mentorship. Under Doris’ expert guidance, we can expand their work to meet even more people where they are.

In our 98-year-old history, Temple Beth El has remained a vibrant spiritual home built on the three pillars of Torah, avodah (worship), and g’milut hasadim (acts of loving-kindness). It is a place where so many of us (myself included) have felt at home ever since entering its doors. Now it is the time create opportunities for engagement and connection outside of our walls, as well, so that we can authentically invite people in on their own terms. It is truly an exciting moment at Temple Beth El.

As we widen our tent, we will also be looking inward, to better understand the needs and desires of all those who call Temple Beth El a spiritual home. We wish to keep up and create new exciting programs, but far more important we aspire to create a culture in which every member knows they are valued and appreciated. Over the past six months, I have been so blessed to get to know you at Temple events, and during one-on-one meetings. If we haven’t yet had a chance to meet, I encourage you to reach out. My office door is always open, and I am eager to listen as we build upon Temple Beth El’s rich legacy. Thank you for your support of this sacred work.