During our last Consecration service, we rejoiced in the beginning of a new cycle of reading the Torah as we initiated three new students in the path of Torah study. It was a touching moment to see so many of our children parading around the sanctuary with little plush Torah scrolls. Our 5773 Consecration class made us all proud as they recited the Shema and shared some fun Shabbat songs with our congregation.
Many of you saw the pictures on our Facebook page. The pictures showed a congregation united in celebration, yet, the pictures only tell part of the story. The view from the bimah was a sanctuary with empty seats. Excluding the families and teachers of our consecrants, other attendees were sparse. While no one is taking “roll call,” I am concerned by the unspoken message this may be sending to the families and to those children of our next generation. Do we truly exemplify the achdut, “unity,” that our founders envisioned when they named our congregation?
I am proud that our congregational community is comprised of individuals and families with many diverse interests. This diversity extends to the energetic support of both Jewish causes as well as other activities in our general community. However, many of our personal schedules fill up quickly each season, forcing us to carefully prioritize how and where we can be physically present to lend our support. Surely, the event which marks the beginning of Torah study for this Consecration class and their families merits a high priority for our congregation.
Let me offer a statistical perspective. This year, enrollment in our Religious School is about 30 students –- that is a third of what we had 20 years ago. Twenty years ago, a Consecration class might have been four to five times bigger (I do not have to guess, their pictures are hanging in our hallway). In those days, if we did not have a child in school, and perhaps chose not to attend that particular Shabbat service, our new students would still have been welcomed by a warm and engaged crowd. The sheer number of families and friends was enough. Fast-forward 20 years and that circumstance yields this year’s rather meagerly attended celebration. I do not know how to say it enough: We need your support for our next generation.
So, how can we engage you to help them on their paths to enrich their lives and to become adults with living Jewish values? What are you willing to do to reach our achdut? Please, feel free to leave a comment so we can continue the conversation.