Dear WJC Family,
Perhaps it is a reflection of the emotionally difficult times, but over the last several months I have spoken and written several times regarding the ability to hold two opposing emotions at one time. It is not a choice; it is a fact of life. Whether it’s the mix of pride and sadness as we watch our children and grandchildren start a new school year and realize how quickly time flies or the excitement of the approaching holidays and the longing inspired by who will be missing around the table this year. Judaism gives us rituals to help us name all of what is going on and move forward carrying it all. That is why we break a glass at a joyous wedding to remember that being human means our joy will always be a little bit broken, and why an appropriate eulogy will often have moments that make us smile or even laugh through our tears at a funeral. Events are full of emotions, emotions are rarely simple, and so Jewish life and Jewish rituals seek to give us a framework in which to experience all the emotions that life has to offer and will demand of us.
This Sunday, we will share one of these complex emotional days. On the one hand we are excited and happy—it is the first day of religious school, kids will be coming back into our building to learn, and laugh together. The breath of life and joy is returning to the synagogue after a quiet summer. And, of course, it is also 9/11, a date of tragedy and fear that will forever be etched into the minds of those who experienced it. And so the day will unfold naming and marking both of those occasions.
On Sunday from 5-7pm, I hope you will join us for a cookout to celebrate the first week of school and the kick off of our synagogue programming calendar. There will be food of course, and also SR2, a live band, a game with prizes for the kids, tables for our programming arms to tell you about their activities and scheduled events, face time with the clergy and staff, and much more. Also we will be collecting toiletries for emergency response organizations (a SOJAC theme for this year after the horrifying damage of the flood last year), so bring those to the shul with you. The BBQ is free, so think of this mitzvah as your payment!
Then after the celebration winds down, from 7-8pm, we will welcome back our Renewal Service. The Renewal Service, full of beautiful music, is a special opportunity for reflection and healing. This service will mark the anniversary of 9/11 giving us all an opportunity to reflect and hopefully heal. The service always includes a special “Kavanah” talk from a participant. This year we are especially happy to welcome back our rabbi emeritus, Rabbi Segelmen, to deliver that talk.
Together we will hold all of it, all on one day, which is what sacred community should be about.
Of course, as we kick off the programming year there is a lot more going on. We hope you’ll join us on Saturday mornings for services, including Youth Services and Tot Shabbat led by our master teachers. And looking forward, next Friday night we have an evening of dinner, services and programming including our Rhythm and Ruach band’s Friday night service and special guest master educator Samantha Vinokor-Meinrath presenting “COMING OF AGE IN A NEW REALITY OF ANTISEMITISM: WHAT YOUR FRIENDS, KIDS & GRANDKIDS WANT YOU TO KNOW.” This is a presentation that those with kids and grandkids won’t want to miss.
Our regular classes and some new learning opportunities are starting up again soon, especially with an eye towards Rosh Hashanah in two weeks. So, take a look at the schedules and I hope we’ll see you taking advantage of all WJC has to offer as we continue our Jewish journey together.
See you in shul,