One of the more interesting challenges of congregational life is synchronizing the rhythm of “Jewish time” with the secular calendar. Last year was the most significant of those challenges, when Rosh Hashanah fell just a few short days after the Labour Day holiday; a singular aberration in the calendar not to be seen again for millennia. The other contrary aspect of Jewish life is the summer break. For much of the secular world, life slows down a bit as many families take holiday during the summer hiatus in academic calendars. In the rabbinate, however, the summer months are the ramp-up time for the many fall Holy Days and back-to-school activities.
This July, I was thrilled to return to Camp George, the URJ summer camp in Parry Sound. I got to connect with many new colleagues during my stay, and it was a great summer for the camp with one of the best staffs ever at the help. It is truly magical to see young adults operating as counselors, creating amazing memories for all the campers while growing in their own Jewish learning as role models and guides.
Back in London, August brought the second year of the Interfaith Peace Camp. Along with colleagues and partners in a number of London’s Muslim and Christian congregations, we hosted over 30 campers and 14 teen
counselors. Using the “bridge” metaphor, we learned about the three Abrahamic faiths and our shared value of pursuing peace. In a summer when international headlines often brought discouragement and worry, the
camaraderie and good will built through this project were a welcome antidote. This September, we welcome a number of new teachers, students and families to our growing Religious School. With the amazing help our first ever VP of Education, Elizabeth Teevan, we have a wonderful year planned. We continue to re-develop our curricula and introduce teacher training and technology tools for all our classes. Many thanks again to Elizabeth for her generous donation of a TV, iPad, and Apple TV for our school to be able to utilize these dynamic new resources most fully.
As we return to the JCC for our High Holy Day services later this month, we continue to pilot the new Machzor, Mishkan HaNefesh, with a revised Yizkor and N’ilah concluding service. Next year, we will welcome the
publication of the brand-new Machzor, which is slated for publication for the 2015 Holy Days. This is a time of rapid change and growth in Jewish life. Although change can seem challenging at times, the creativity and renewal that it fosters invigourates every aspect of congregational life.
Please join your Temple family as we welcome another new year. May 5775 bring health, joy, and vitality to us all.
L’Shanah Tovah U’Metukah – wishing you a sweet new year.
Rabbi Debra Dressler