Sunday, February 28, 2010

All Together Now!


When I was a kid, the Purim carnival was all about the Men’s Club – or so it seemed to me. They coordinated everything, food, games, moonbounce, tickets, prizes – it was their show. I was a kid, and my only concern was winning a goldfish. (Keeping it alive later was a lower priority and probability!)

Jump forward about 35 years. This afternoon was the Purim carnival at our temple. For a variety of reasons, I played a larger role that ever before, as did the members of the Religious School Committee. It was amazing!

Now its amazing-ness had nothing to do with anything I did. I tried very hard to follow the well-designed plan of our Family Educator, who has done it for years. And her foresight made everything work. What was amazing was what my changed perspective allowed me to see, and what I am certain was always there.

It’s about the numbers. A committee of 8 people planned the carnival, made the calls and made things happen. 14 people baked cakes for the cake walk. 20 people showed up early to join the maintenance staff in setting up. 12 adults and 82 kids (grades 4 – 12) came and ran the booths. The brotherhood brought a dozen to prepare and serve the food. Another dozen stayed to clean up. And during it all, they schmoozed. Some were already friendly with one another. Others were acquainted or met one another for the first time.

It was a thrill to watch! This is not the most intellectual, spiritual or educational event in our calendar. I was excited to see the connections being made, renewed and deepened. It occurred to me that with all of our wikis focusing on Hebrew, conferences on educational technology and blogs bemoaning the failure of institution X to reach goal Y, that we sometimes overlook the most important value of all – community. And that value is modeled and lived in many places, including in the kitchen as the “Pressure Cookers” of the Brotherhood get ready to feed several hundred people!

This all seems very kamuvan – obvious – but we often take it for granted. Look at the 28 Ideas, 28 Ideas blog. No, really, go there. It is really cool and interesting. More importantly for my point, most of the ideas there are creative explorations of how can better connect the Jewish people. In other words, it is about community. 21st century, hyper-connected and tech savvy, but community nonetheless. So let's keep our eye on the prize!

They tried to kill us. They failed. Let’s eat – together!

And now on to Pesach!

This is cross-posted with Davar Acher - On The Other Hand, the blog of the Jim Joseph Foundation Fellows of the Lookstein Institute for Jewish Education in the Diaspora at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan. Please visit!

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