Strength in Numbers
Or Hadash Synagogue, a Reform congregation in the Northern York Region, serves a wide demographic and is both a synagogue and a centre for Jewish activities and experiences. The continued presence of Or Hadash Synagogue in the Northern York Region for more than two decades has enabled a generation of young people and adults to build a more meaningful cycle of life, in continuity with the global Jewish community.
What would members of the congregation and those considering commitment look for from our Synagogue?
- The spiritual journey that can be gained from Shabbat services, through the High Holy Days, to the celebration of life cycle events and Simchas. This is the ‘breath’ for the soul.
- Meeting socially to enjoy one another’s company, to brighten our days with friendship, and of course, with what Jews savour –with eating together and finding humour even in the darkest of times. This is our ‘chicken soup’ for the soul.
- Striving to grasp a fuller understanding of Judaism and find its hidden treasures, the underpinnings of an exuberant Jewish life, gained through knowing more about our history, our trials and tribulations, and our victories. This is the core of our soul.
Our ancestors took the same journey and through their experiences, hopes and dreams, became the nation of Israel, including the Diaspora and the remarkable State of Israel. This triumph over adversity and the ability to contribute far above our proportional number in the world sets an example for the rest of society. In a world that suffers from constant turmoil, the contrast is all the more significant.
Your support of the Synagogue is vital, not only as a house of worship, but also as a foundation to sustain Judaism. Please consider Or Hadash as your sanctuary so that it can be made stronger with your involvement and commitment. Strength lies in solidarity of purpose, as well as in noble acts to better the lives of everyone in our community. ** See Below
Or Hadash is your synagogue, your Jewish community centre, and your home for an enriching Jewish life, where all are welcomed as friends.
With our New Year 5779 (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur but a month away), we have an opportunity to reflect upon the messages embedded in prayers that reach out to every one of us, from the very young to the elders. Each year important messages can be gleaned from the prayers. These speak to what is relevant in our lives, when looked at with fresh eyes.
Wishing you a sweet New Year in good health and peace. May you be inscribed in the book of life.
L’Shanah Tovah um’tukah
Or Hadash Synagogue
Many have asked “what do I get out of membership” wanting to know how belonging to Or Hadash Synagogue would better their lives. I take the opportunity to add a recent article that might best answer this question.
How Does Being a Synagogue Member Make My Life Better?
By Rabbi Paul Kipnes , 8/20/2018 (urj.org)
I invited a former synagogue member – a wonderful and very pleasant person – to rejoin the synagogue after a few years away. She said she had thought about it and wondered, “How would being a member make my life better or different?”
I thought about her question a lot, and even as a congregational rabbi, I admit that I struggled. Eventually, my answer was along these lines: It depends on what you mean by “better.”
If you mean physically healthier, it won’t. Join a gym.
If you mean more physically beautiful, it won’t. Go to Nordstrom’s or a make-up artist.
If you mean richer, it won’t. Get a higher-paying job.
If you mean more mentally stable, it won’t. Go to a therapist.
If you mean more knowledgeable, it won’t. Take a class at your local community college.
The list goes on: If you mean ____, then go ____.
But here’s what joining a synagogue will do.
Being part of a synagogue allows you to be part of a larger community – of your people.
Being part of a synagogue means promulgating values that you and your tradition hold dear.
Being part of a community is like ensuring that your room is still there even after you go away to college. You can always come home. And even if you don’t show up, we are still here.
Being part of a community teaches future generations that being a Jew matters, even if you aren’t a power user of the synagogue at the moment.
Being part of a community means that there will always be High Holidays services for you and the community.
It means that you always have a place to turn when you are in need.
It means that there is always Torah in your community
It means that you have a spiritual home.
It means that your values are played out through social justice
It means that you have a place to go to sing Mi Shebeirach when you or someone you know is in pain.
It means that Israel has an advocate in the community.
It means that you take responsibility for the next generation, like the previous one did for yours.
It’s not about money, because everyone can join regardless of wealth or lack thereof. It’s about demonstrating a commitment to community.
HY note: Membership dues simply pay for maintaining the home of the Synagogue and enable carrying out programming. Volunteers are the fuel that ensures that the home can function as needed.
We live in a world that speaks of consumer values: “What do I get if I pay?” Judaism is a people/religion/nation/culture/ethnicity/more that transcends that question, asking instead, “What will being part of a community do for our world, for all people, for our people, for our community?” That’s how I think, and it’s how I want my children to think.
If this is how you want to think, come home – and if not, well, home will still be here for you if you ever decide you do want to come home.
(Oh, and one last thing: Judaism, synagogue, and community can make you feel more beautiful because you feel better about yourself when you are spiritually centered. You will feel richer because you will have enriched your life and those of others. You will feel smarter because you will be able to partake in 5,000 years of Jewish knowledge. You will be more mentally stable because you will have adjusted the balance of the mind, body, spirit. Of course, all this presupposes that not only do you join, but you also come and connect.)
So that’s my answer. The shofar’s in your court.