It has been my privilege to receive congregants’ feedback about Temple life during my term. While most people are full of praise for our services, activities and communication (for which I take very little credit), some have concerns or are yearning for something different.
To understand congregants’ feedback, it helps to identify the underlying expectations that shape our opinions about Temple. Though not scientific in the least, here are the common threads of my conversations:
Congregants want temple to be a place where we each of us can feel free to be ourselves; feel accepted for who we are, however we got here; feel free to identify as Jews in our own way; feel connected to this place and to each other; and be uplifted by prayer, music, learning or community. Congregants want Temple Beth El to act on our shared Jewish values; be accountable for our decisions; and contribute to repairing the world.
I think we are successful most of the time, but sometimes we stumble and our efforts backfire. Our intentions are always to be warm and welcoming, provocative and impactful and spiritual and safe.
To reach our visionary temple, we need to join together as congregants, lay leaders and staff to incorporate engagement and audacious hospitality into everything we do at temple.
For all of us, engagement and audacious hospitality mean we need to open our hearts and minds to understand people’s opinions that differ from our own. We need to expand our circle of friends and invite others to sit with us at a service or a temple event. We need to be open to members who have new ideas, or tell stories different from ours, and we need to take a hard look at our biases about what it means to be Jewish.
There is a sense of excitement at TBE these days. Lay leaders are hard at work. Our calendar is full! Our Sacred Gift Campaign was a big success.
I look forward to seeing you and hearing from you in 2018.