Appreciating the Past as We Build for Tomorrow
Temple Emunah is blessed to hold its daily minyan every morning and evening. While, particularly in the summer, we need everyone’s help to make sure we have 10 or more, our minyan is a source of pride and strength. I thank all the lay leaders who run minyan as gabbaim (coordinators) and daveners (prayer leaders).
During the summer, we are able to add Minhah, the afternoon service, to our daily offerings. These services were originally designed to help us center ourselves throughout each day. Shaharit, the morning service, is recited upon first waking up around sunrise. It enables us to set an intention for the day, to be filled with gratitude for the gift of life, and helps the davener (the pray-er) to enter into a relationship with something beyond one’s self, or another part of one’s self.
Minhah can be recited starting about about half an hour after midday—it served as a helpful pause to check in and see how we are doing—were we living up to the values in our tradition and if not, helps us get back on track.
Finally, Ma’ariv, the evening service, provides the means to gently let go of the day so we could be at peace as we approached the more fearful and anxious time of night.
At our 7:30 pm evening minyan (Sun–Thu; summer Fridays at 6:15 pm and Shabbat varies with sunset), we recite Minhah and Ma’ariv back to back. While this not ideal, it affords us the opportunity to recite two services, two Mourner’s Kaddishes and remember two sets of yahrzeits, since, because the Jewish day begins at sunset, Minhah is one day; Ma’ariv on the next.
While it is convenient to gather a minyan once for both services, there is a challenge to reciting the Amidah (the standing silent prayer) twice, back-to-back. Many have asked how to have kavannah (intentionality or focus) when you are reciting the same prayer twice?
My method is to approach each Amidah with a different focus. So, the Amidah of Minhah becomes more retrospective, looking back on the day. How did I do? Was I able to connect with people in positive ways? Did I apologize to the person I had wronged and do teshuvah (repentance)? Did I accomplish my goals? By thinking about the 13 middle paragraphs of the Amidah and their themes—from repentance to healing to wisdom—I check and reflect on the day.
Ten minutes later, in the Ma’ariv service, I think about these themes with a forward focus. How will I use these ideas in the evening, the night that starts the coming day? In this manner, I am able to experience varied Amidot—one looking back and the second looking forward. (If you are interested in these types of prayer strategies, join me in January, 2018 for a Sunday morning class entitled, “Davening 101.”)
Along the lines of my Amidah approach, I want to look both back and ahead in this article. As June comes into focus, it is the time of the year when our Religious School and some of our adult learning takes a pause and we reflect on the school year that has ended. We have been blessed with an amazing year filled with rich Temple Emunah activities including many joyous B’nei Mitzvah celebrations, Friday nights filled with ruah (spirit), and rich programming around the holidays. Our partnership with the Israeli Community has blossomed with seven unique events including a Friday night service and dinner. There were trips: an incredible Israel Ride group in November, an awesome 90-person Israel adventure in February, and an amazing Minyan Katan trip to London (see page 5)!
None of this would happen without our unique community. It truly takes a village to build a village. Anyone who has come to a program, a minyan, or a dinner has helped strengthen Temple Emunah. And those who have volunteered deserve special recognition—from those who work in the kitchen to those who read Torah, from those who lead a shiva minyan to those who beautify our outdoor spaces, we say thank you! So far this year, over 215 families and individuals have contributed to the Campaign to Strengthen and Sustain Temple Emunah. To all of you, I say todah rabbah—a great thank you!
Our lay leaders are truly amazing people who devote themselves to our shul. While there are literally dozens to thank, including all our officers, most of all I thank our President, David Landis, who has steered us well this past year and has done so much to strengthen and sustain Temple Emunah. David and all our leaders are continuing in their posts for another year and we should all be grateful.
Our staff has done an incredible job and deserves recognition for their past efforts. Again I am thrilled that all of them are staying on for next year! I thank our main office staff for a wonderful year: Marilyn Pappo, Scott Mccauslin, Ellen Weene, Alisa Billings, Jodie Parmer, and our Executive Director, Amy Zaslow, who also earned the title FSA (Fellow in Synagogue Administration)—mazal tov! Let me thank Claudio Trindade as well!
This year, our fundraising efforts were greatly enhanced by CCS Consultants; we thank Brian Nevins and Carmen Donohue whom many of you met—both guided us in invaluable ways. (Carmen’s presence was extraordinarily helpful.) We are blessed to have Danny Watt on board to help us continue our success and reach the Wolk Challenge of 300 individual gifts!
Our school and youth community is blessed to have Me’ir Sherer as our Director of Congregational Learning and Beni Summers, who will be continuing as a Synagogue Educator and adding a new piece to his portfolio: Moreh Ruhaniut—spirituality teacher. In this capacity, Beni will be leading his ruah-filled Kabbalat Shabbat, niggunim (melodies without words) sessions for adults and students. This will enhance our existing offerings such as our growing Emunat HaLev (Meditation Institute of Temple Emunah) and help us create new spiritual moments throughout the year!
Finally, I am thrilled that Rabbi Fel and Shayna (as well as Nadav and Ellie!) will be continuing in our community. They have added so much to our shul and I am blessed to continue our work together.
Looking back and looking ahead—it looks pretty good.
Have a wonderful summer and I hope to see many of you at Ari’s Bar Mitzvah (please RSVP if you have not yet done so!) and throughout the summer,
Rabbi David Lerner