One of the things that I love about being in Palm Springs for the Rabbis convention is the wonderful sense of community. Even though we often don’t see one another for months at a stretch or even years at a stretch, there is an immediate kinship and friendship that happens. The PARR conference is known for that warmth and collegiality; for the spirit of support and laughter. It is a bit of utopia in an isolating world.
Would that we all had that kind of unique community. I feel blessed that I can experience it among my colleagues at least once a year in the desert.
A synagogue strives to be that kind of community. A place where you can be yourself and be welcomed no matter what. There are lots of criticism of the role of the synagogue in contemporary society. Some of it good and some of it uncalled for. Many thought leaders in the Jewish world want to sing of its demise and several want to dance on its grave. But I think these “celebrations” are premature. The synagogue is the best hope to create sacred community. Even as the independent minyanim arise, and the millennial gather to form their own communities rejecting traditional synagogue institutions–they can call it what they want, but these kehillot, these communities are the synagogues of their day.
I try to have that be the unwritten rule in our own congregation. A place to just be from the world. A place to grow and learn and heal. A place to reflect and to gather together to make change in the universe and ourselves. But it is always a work in process. As it should be. As we all are.
The important value is community. A place you can grow and change and be supported. I am blessed to have that space with my rabbinic friends and in my own congregation.