Today is February 23, 2018 -

Bring the kids to Simchat Torah services

I attended a brilliant lecture by Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks who compared Jewish continuity to the GPS.  Quoting the Pew Study, Rabbi Sacks suggested that American Jewry has lost its way, but like the GPS, we can reroute, to get back on track, but only if we know where we want to go.

I believe that we know what Jewish continuity looks like, and what a strong and vibrant Jewish community should look like.  We want a community where people care about one another, while supporting Israel and Jews all around the world.  We want strong synagogues and other Jewish institutions, and we want to be free from anti-Semitism.

Federation’s 2012 Community Strategic Plan nicely laid out the road map for getting us there.  We need to foster a Judaism that will be warm and inviting to the unaffiliated.  We need to create programs that will be meaningful and impactful to retain and grow our affiliated.  We need to provide our next generations with a Judaism that is important to them and allows  children to find their own positive connections.

Smarter people than I have been working on the children issue for some time now.  Nationally, we have been seeing changes in the Hebrew school programs and Jewish camping.  We have all been working on meaningful Israel programs.  (Please see below a flyer for our next Teen Mission to Israel.)  I’ve been writing about the work of PJ Library for child engagement, and I will again shamelessly plug our first PJ Sukkah Stroll planned for tomorrow afternoon.  Please see our flyer below.  (It will be chilly–please dress appropriately.)

I’m now also going to get on my annual soap box and strongly encourage everyone reading this to bring their children to Simchat Torah services this week.  (These synagogue services are open to all and no tickets are required.)  Simchat Torah, in my opinion, is one of Judaism’s most fun holidays.  Synagogues are filled with children, as well as singing and dancing.  It is critical that we give our children these positive Jewish experiences so that they want Judaism to be a part of their lives.

For Conservative and Orthodox Jews living outside of Israel, Simchat Torah is celebrated on Monday night and Tuesday.  For Reform Jews, the holiday officially falls on Sunday night and Monday, but may be celebrated at other times, depending on synagogue policy.  Please see our web page for area synagogues, and check with them for service schedules.

Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York
Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York

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