Home by Andy Harkavy, Director of Congregational Engagement

Many people have numerous definitions for the word home. Over the years, I often asked myself, “Is home where I live or is it where I was born?”

Home is defined as the place where one lives permanently. I have not lived in Atlanta since I graduated from high school in 2002. I have almost spent more years living outside of Atlanta than I did growing up there. I have moved to a few different cities since I graduated from UGA in 2006. I always thought I would return to Atlanta. When I was asked “Where is home?” I answered based on my current city of residence. I “live in Athens, Columbus, Charlotte, Baltimore, or Cincinnati, but Atlanta is and always will be my home.” Moving back to Charlotte has felt like an incredible homecoming. My wife and I bought a house to make a home for our family.

I finally feel like I am home. And Atlanta is my hometown – I will always feel at home when I visit my friends and family, but Charlotte is home for my wife, my son, and me. We are where we belong, in our new home city, in our new home congregation, and in our new home. Thank you for making my family feel at home!

Home is also defined as a familiar or usual setting. What does it mean to feel “at home” here at Temple Beth El?

·         Is it walking through the doors and feeling welcomed?

·         Is it seeing familiar faces?

·         Is it having friends with whom to sit and talk?

·         Is it a place to make new friends and create your own community?

Home can mean different things to different people. Home can also be feeling comfortable in this environment. I am excited to see familiar faces and meet new people, not just because it’s my job to do so, but because one of my passions is to make others feel included and comfortable and to help connect people with each other. My wife told me that she used to think she was an extravert until she started dating me. My mom jokes with many people that she could walk around the United States with a nametag that just says “Andy’s mom” and people would know that I am the Andy.

I love getting to know people. Not just their names, but their interests, their backgrounds, their stories. I also love connecting people with each other based on their interests, backgrounds, and stories. Connectedness. Being known. Authentic relationships. That is what makes people feel at home. I am going to help make this place your home. My colleagues will continue to help make this place your home. I hope you will play a part to make this place your home and home to anyone and everyone else who wants to feel at home here at Temple Beth El.