Whenever possible, my grandson, Ethan, accompanies me to my Friday night service at the Court At Palm Aire. He assists me in conducting services.
Every time he comes, he knows more and more prayers and I do not mind passing the microphone to him. He really enjoys going with me. He had a choice to go to our synagogue for a family Shabbat dinner or coming with me. He chose to go with me. I really was surprised. What a mitzvah! The seniors adore him! If he misses to many weeks, believe me, I hear about it! Ethan brings joy into their lives.
Another reason I do not mind passing the microphone is because he is the generation coming up, where the topic of conversation is: how to we keep people engaged in synagogue life? How do we keep children involved in our Religious Schools and youth groups? How do we keep their parents coming into the building. I see a child, Ethan, who really considers his synagogue his second home.
My drive to teach Judaic Studies, Hebrew, and Jewish Music, is to help people enjoy and love being Jewish. My goal is to keep on doing this for as long as I can. We need to love who we are and that includes loving to be Jewish. The only way to accomplish this is to be educated. Going to Religious School; being involved in youth groups; coming to services whenever possible; parents and grandparents continuing to learn through adult education. In other words, be part of the community.
A synagogue will be officially merging with us this summer, and I just read on Facebook that another synagogue in New York is closing. An acquaintance of mine is helping to pack it up. How sad. I actually felt an ache in my heart.
I don’t want to see this, I don’t want to hear about it. I know neighborhoods change, I know attrition takes place, but somehow we have to join forces and try to keep this from happening as much as possible. I am realistic to say that many people are not interested in synagogues. We cannot make them join, but I think what we need to do is somehow, some way, give Jewish moments that will hit them, make them think, make them want outside of the four walls of the synagogue, then hopefully, eventually, they will want to join.
Another problem I think we are having and will get much worse, is that we will not have anybody that will be able to say Mourners’ Kaddish for us. I saw this yesterday while conducting a Memorial Service. I could see some people feeling uncomfortable because they could not recite all the words; and I recite Kaddish slowly. This is the lack of Hebrew education and I even had the transliteration on the paper.
Jewish Education is being cut short. Many synagogues have gone to one day a week, and I believe more is on the way. I know it is better than nothing, but we contribute to the lack of knowledge of who and what we are. We contribute to people not coming into our buildings. We contribute to our children not feeling like the synagogue is our second home. We also contribute to the lack of Jewish identity.
I want to be able to keep passing the mike to confident future Jewish leaders. Help us do this!