The burning question of the week seems to be why I have finally relented and opened a Facebook account. (Some of you will remember when I resisted email too!) Let me answer in several ways. The first is that Ben Wachstein, our executive director, framed this conversation for me in a way that no one else had before. He reminded me that this is where people are, and we need to be where they are, where so many of YOU are!
Two thoughts came to mind for me. First, I remember hearing Rabbi Rick Jacobs (president of the Union for Reform Judaism) speak once about a time when he was still a congregational rabbi. His congregation was fairly well off financially. He hired a young rabbi just to be where younger Jews were. He wanted this rabbi to be at the bookstores, cafes, and bars. He told the younger colleague that if he saw him in the building, he would assume that he wasn’t doing his job. It is a poignant lesson from a contemporary leader. In many ways, though, he was echoing a 2000 year old teaching from the Talmud. As we know, the Rabbis were often arguing and debating. When one debate couldn’t be resolved, the Rabbis were told to go out and see what the people were doing, and they would have their answer. The law followed the ways of the people, not the other way around.
So yes, as much as possible, I want to be where you are, with what I teach and what I learn. We already started moving in this direction when I announced several weeks ago that we would be doing 2 Shabbat dinners this year in people’s homes.
So where are you today? Where are your Jewish friends and neighbors? What are you reading, listening to, learning? Where are your communities? Where do you go to be comforted, challenged, embraced? Where does your heritage find its voice? Where do you find God? My training tells me where people found all of that in the past. I need you to teach me where it is now.
Genuine face time will always be more imp
ortant to me than Facebook, but I hope to connect with you in many ways. Let’s look for each other. Invite me into your spaces. Let’s grow together.
And let’s begin this Shabbat. Whether it’s at services tonight (6:00 First Friday service) or Torah Study tomorrow (9:00-10:30 in the large double classroom), let’s enjoy Shabbat together.
Shabbat Shalom u’m’vorach. Have a Shabbat of peace and of blessing.
Jack P. Paskoff,