February 2019

Last month, I attended one of the Town Hall meetings set up by the CJP to meet their new President and CEO, Rabbi Marc Baker. Rabbi Baker (I think he prefers to be called Marc) talked about the significant leadership transition at CJP given that Barry Shrage had been head of CJP for over 30 years. He started the meeting by saying that in a time of leadership transition, it’s important to listen and learn together, to have open minds and open hearts to think about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go.  He then spent the next two hours listening to people talk about what’s working and what’s challenging about the greater Boston Jewish community. Many people gave examples of wonderful things like Jewish day schools and camps, and others gave him suggestions for how CJP could help us all sustain a strong and vibrant Greater Boston Jewish community.

All synagogues are looking at where they’ve been, where they are, and where they want to go, whether they’re small or large congregations; whether they have a rabbi who’s been with them for 20 years or an interim rabbi. One of the reasons why we are all doing this is that people of all ages (young, middle aged, and old) are questioning what it means to be Jewish and the ways in which they want to express their Judaism and engage with others who are Jewish. We heard this loud and clear at the CJP meeting, and we are seeing that in our own synagogue and in synagogues across the country.

When they asked us at the end of the meeting what gives us hope, many people said that the meeting gave them hope, the fact that people are engaging with each other to express themselves and ask these questions, the fact that someone wants to learn and listen to what we have to say, the fact that all of us want to ensure that we sustain a strong and vibrant greater Boston Jewish community gives us all hope that we are all in this and will continue to stand strong together.

In the short time that I’ve been President of Temple Beth Sholom, I’ve listened to many of you and what impresses me is the care and compassion we have for each other, the welcoming and inclusive ways in which we invite each other and new visitors into our community, and the respect and consideration we give to each other’s point of view, knowing that we’re all working towards a common goal of strengthening Temple Beth Sholom. I hope that we can continue to talk about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go, and to learn from each other about how we can continue to stand strong together.

Evie Shorey, President