Posted on September 1, 2016 by Robin Osman, TBE President, 2015-2017
Recently, I have been thinking about our mission. We have a beautifully written vision statement that accurately reflects who we are and what we strive for as a community. (If you haven’t read it, you can find it here.) However, it’s also long and difficult to remember. It occurred to me that if we asked 20 people what TBE’s mission was, that we would probably get 20 different responses (or more). Two Jews, three opinions, right?
So, I asked Rabbi Gluck to state our temple’s mission. Without missing a beat, he exclaimed, “To make Jews!” As a marketer, that really resonated with me. It was clear, concise and catchy. He captured it all in just three syllables. Rabbi Gluck went on to say that if Temple Beth-El were a business, our product would be Jews.
The late Rabbi Alexander Schindler once reminded us why synagogues are unique: “The synagogue is where Jews are made, where the individual soul and the community are joined. It is the place where modernity and eternity cross-fertilize, where seeds of Jewish identity are sown. All other institutions in Jewish life are created by Jews. Only the synagogue creates Jews, child by child, family by family…”
At Temple Beth-El, we aim to nurture all our members with meaningful Jewish experiences. Sometimes we get to start with a newborn baby, a toddler or young child just beginning religious school. At Temple Beth-El, we firmly believe that teen engagement starts at birth. We also begin as early as possible in the life cycle to engage parents in the process of developing a long-term Jewish vision for their children. We ask them, “When your child goes off to college, what do you want them to know, feel and do, Jewishly?” Through the years, we engage in the sacred work of providing our children with rich and meaningful experiences to strengthen their Jewish identity and prepare our young people for Jewish adulthood.
But enriching Jewish experiences and learning are not just for children at Temple Beth-El. As adults, we come to Temple Beth-El in many varieties. Some of us have had a lifetime filled with Jewish education and experiences. Some of us are Jewish but come to TBE with little to no Jewish education or knowledge. And some of us are not Jewish. Regardless of our background, each of us can find a sense of belonging, connection to others, opportunities to engage in acts of social justice and rich experiences of learning and spiritual growth at Temple Beth-El.
Over the years I have taken advantage of many adult education classes and opportunities for spiritual growth at Temple Beth-El. I came to TBE as a Jew with little Jewish education. Temple Beth-El is where I became a Jew, and for that I am tremendously grateful.
I look forward to learning, praying and engaging in acts of loving kindness with you this year.
Originally published in the September-October 2016 Shofar. For more issues of the Shofar, visit the Shofar archives.