I can’t help but marvel at how full of life our synagogue is on Shabbat mornings.
When I started down this path at CBJ as a Board member and then part of the Executive Committee, a persistent theme has been that we wanted to see the synagogue “buzzing” on Shabbat.
Concerned that attendance at services was not what we hoped and searching for ways to better meet the needs of our community, our SANCTIFY team did the research and carved out a solution with our clergy for the new Power Hour service. Intended to serve the needs of those who yearned for a shorter and more musical service, the Power Hour has attracted a regular and growing cadre of people who bring spirit and joy to the service and then join with the worshipers from the Traditional Service for a wonderful Kiddush lunch.
As I write this, I marvel at how I sauntered out of the social hall at 2:30 p.m. this past Shabbat following a wonderful Bat Mitzvah, some schmoozing with my friends, and a great community Shabbat lunch. And the place was still buzzing! I have not been a regular at services in the past, but as time goes on I find myself increasingly heading to CBJ on Shabbat—maybe the Traditional Service, sometimes the Power Hour and a cup of coffee, once in a while Torah Study, and of course I join my friends for lunch. Embracing Shabbat at CBJ is spiritual, restorative, and fun. Having the flexibility to decide when to show up and how to participate is a great way to personalize my Shabbat experience. And best of all, truly engaging in the Shabbat experience leaves me so much more relaxed and ready for the week ahead.
How cool is it that I finally realized the power of Shabbat? I think it happened because CBJ is working at finding ways to offer a variety of opportunities to engage our community in new and different ways. We want to facilitate new relationships and deeper connections to each other in all the ways that we celebrate our Judaism and live our lives.
As part of this process we are rejuvenating our Chavurah program and creating affinity groups and neighborhood groups, all of which will help you build your connections in the ways that make sense for you and your family. At this point, we have affinity groups in biking, hiking and camping, cooking and wine, gardening, movies and theater, social action, sports and sporting events, and Shabbat and Jewish culture. This list goes a long way, but the sky is the limit. If you have an idea for a group, contact Rebecca Schwartz, our membership engagement director, and we can add it. You can take charge or wait for a like-minded friend to suggest an appealing group activity. You can do the things you enjoy with the people in our community— making new friends and getting to know old friends even better. We are working at creating neighborhood groups where members who live in close proximity to each other can share Shabbat and holiday celebrations, support for neighbors in times of need, and play dates, car pools and all the simple joys and problems of community life. We are reviving old Chavurot and creating new ones for demographic groups like young families and empty nesters, singles and seniors, and any other combinations that make sense and make you happy. If you want to be part of a Chavurah, contact Rebecca Schwartz and you will be placed in an appropriate group.
I am excited about our progress and even more excited about our future plans. As I embark on the adventure of becoming CBJ president, we are blessed with an excellent leadership team and a group of Board members who are so smart and creative and motivated to bring CBJ into a new era where our own unique brand of Conservative Judaism is a model of engagement and enrichment— fueled by our passion for Torah, mitzvah, and the power of friendship and community. Finally, I will remind you one more time that our Gala honoring Greg Sterling is just a few days away on January 26. If you have not already done so, buy your tickets, be a sponsor, honor Greg, and join us for the event of the year.