Among the most terrifying words a rabbi can declare from the bimah are “the new month of Elul begins in the coming week.”
Every year I shake a little, taken aback by how soon that statement means the new year will be beginning. But, as a friend of mine would say “that’s kinda the point!” Elul is the time of year when we start planning for the year to come. The clergy and staff of East Midwood Jewish Center are doing just that and I look forward to 5776 in anticipation of a great year.
Here are some of my plans:
- Turn our synagogue center into a model of sustainability for Brooklyn and beyond. Synagogues (and other buildings) in the suburbs lately have been built with environmental sustainability in mind, but I look forward to our pride in having balanced sustainability with the heritage of our generations-old building. In addition to financial savings, we will provide our members and neighbors with resources that are scarce around here but are essential for the sustainable functioning of our city going forward. Other resources I hope we will provide will be educational, nutritious and downright fun. Things like solar power, gardens, beehives and composting will require some continued work and decision-making but I look forward to planning and implementing them.
- Build on the success of NightShul and our other educational offerings. NightShul is the brainchild of one of our members and, as such, is a great way to offer Jewish education: our community has perceived a need and we are here to fill it. By working with other organizations and synagogues, we are really filling a community need and simultaneously exposing more of the community to EMJC and all we have to offer. I plan to teach more daytime classes in the coming year, too.
- Further integrate the subcommunities of EMJC. Each month, I am energized by our BimBom group, throughout the week I love interacting with the seniors who come through our days and every other week, I enjoy stopping by Shabbat Katan to say something to the kids (which, by the way, is far more difficult to do for me than talking to the adults!) This, of course, in addition to our daily minyan-goers and our Shabbat regulars. But I believe each group ought to be more aware of what the others are doing, more socially, religiously and communally integrated. I’ll be working this year to bridge those divides.
These are just some of my plans for the coming year and I look forward to hearing from you about them and about your ideas for an enhanced EMJC. I am supported by our legacy, heartened by where we are and excited by who we can become.
What a great way to enter the new year! L’shana Tova uMetuka!
Rabbi Matt Carl