Transformation at Temple Beth El by Andy Harkavy, Director of Congregational Engagement

This past week, my wife and I bought new patio furniture off of NextDoor. We immediately thought about how nice it will be to enjoy sitting outside over the summer having dinner with the amazing friends we have made since we moved here. We have created new relationships and deepened relationships with people whom we already knew.

We bought the furniture from a few neighborhoods over and didn’t have a vehicle large enough to transport it. The person we purchased from immediately responded that she knew someone with a truck and he would surely help out because he was a friend. When we were moving it I asked him how they knew each other and he told me he was a friend of her boyfriend and they knew each other through their church group. He dove deep in conversation and shared how this group of people studies together, does community service together, socializes together, and at the end of the day, is there for each other in good times or bad, and just to help out as needed. It got me thinking about how Small Groups (TriBEs) at Temple Beth El will help form new bonds and take those that already exist to the next level on a much deeper, authentic level.

Looking back, it is amazing to think of all that has been accomplished since I arrived in October. I have loved working with so many different congregants, committees, and colleagues on a variety of events, projects, initiatives, and/or strategic planning. From Porch to SPICE to Brotherhood to Baby Boomers/Empty Nester to Youth…these are just a few of the larger list of committees with whom I have partnered in the last 9 months.

The Baby Boomer/Empty Nester Initiative has been a large time commitment. The saying “hard work pays off” has never been more true. As much as there was a listening campaign and deep dives and research that was completed in the year before my arrival, the foundation was still new and fresh. There was so much work that remained. Over the last 9 months, there have been countless one-on-one, small group, and larger committee meetings to ensure this initiative is a tremendous success. During one of the Small Group Leadership Team meetings, the name of this initiative was determined. “TriBE” was the winner. It represents the 12 tribes of Israel, includes the TBE name, and refers to the small group of people so well.

Part of this process was to empower lay leaders and congregants to become active stakeholders in their own Jewish lives so they can be responsible for their own Jewish journeys. One of my favorite movies is Field of Dreams. A famous quote many of you might know is, “If you build it they will come.” I have adapted this quote in my work to “If you build it with them, they are already there.” The adapted quote serves as a constant reminder to what we strive for at Temple Beth El.

Rabbi Knight wrote in a previous blog, “Judaism teaches that it is in relationships with one another where we connect most deeply with God. The potential we have as individuals to grow and transform is strengthened by our sense of being rooted in community. Judaism asks us to learn with each other, pray with each other, celebrate with each other, mourn with each other, walk through life together and see the Godliness that exists in each other’s souls.”

On June 12, we had nearly 150 Baby Boomers and Empty Nesters attend our Small Group Info Session. More than 1/3 of those in attendance submitted a TriBE Leader Card as they were potentially interested in serving as leader/co-leader of a TriBE. These TriBEs will help transform the way we interact as individuals and as a holy community around Temple Beth El, across Shalom Park, and around the larger Jewish community of Charlotte. This is just the beginning of our work. This initiative will eventually expand to the larger congregation so all of our congregants can find more opportunities to create deeper connections with one another. This is just the beginning of a major transformation. I am excited to work with the TriBE Leadership Team to help every congregant find their TriBE and find their people.

One thought on “Transformation at Temple Beth El by Andy Harkavy, Director of Congregational Engagement

  1. Karen Lewis

    I enjoyed reading your post, and this development of community is much of the reason why we joined Temple Beth El after moving to the area last summer. We knew Rabbi Knight from our time living in Dallas years ago, and my second daughter wants a larger temple experience for her bat mitzvah coming up on Feb 16 (like her sisters in 11/2016). We live in Cornelius, up in the Lake Norman area, and I would love to be part of a TriBe of folks living in the Lake area, if such a thing could be developed.

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