“The Torah has no turf.” That was the slogan I learned from a Jewish professional mentor back in 1986. It is very common for Jewish institutions of all kinds to act as if they are the only Jewish resource in town. It is also true that Jewish institutions are all struggling to survive financially, which causes them to seek advantage in the tough Jewish communal ‘marketplace’ and see other institutions as competitors.
In my listening tour with congregants I heard people speak about the time a bunch of Congregation Albert members left and joined CBI. I also heard about the turmoil at CBI that caused members to leave for Congregation Albert. I am aware of the natural tendency toward competition that exists in Albuquerque due to the limited options of a smaller community and the struggle for institutional survival.
But the Torah has no turf. My approach to Jewish community is to encourage the institution I serve to collaborate, share resources, and join with other synagogues and organization to share in joyful celebrations of our unique calendar and way of life. As I have met the ABQ community leaders, I began to propose ideas for collaboration and joint programming. My eagerness and readiness to collaborate is inspired by some specific Jewish values.
- Klal Yisrael-the Collective of Yisrael. As a rabbi I work for the entire collective of Israel, not just my synagogue. Anything I can do to bring some sense of solidarity between Jews, I will do.
- Havruta: Two is better than one. Just as Jewish tradition encourages that Torah study take place in partnership as opposed to by studying by oneself, I believe that communities should work as Havrutas, celebrating Jewishly together whenever possible.
- Celebrating diversity while finding commonality: I am thankful for the diversity of the Jewish community. My strong preference is to come together and celebrate the diversity within our community and especially when we study Torah. While it is not in ABQ yet, Limmud is an example of an international Jewish initiative that brings together Jews of all streams. As described on their website, “One of the biggest celebrations of Jewish learning and culture in the world – Limmud is the perfect jigsaw made by you, by us, and by the other 2499 Jews from all over the world.” We could use some of the spirit of Limmud in the Southwest.
I want to let you know of recent and future collaborations with the community that I have initiated or participated in.
- I enjoyed participating in the joint Sisterhood gathering between Congregation B’nai Israel and Congregation Albert back in the fall.
- On January 11th we shared in a joint Shabbat morning service between Chavurat Hamidbar and CBI. The surveys indicate that people really enjoyed the experience and would like to do it again.
- I am one of 5 teachers in the Community Introduction to Judaism sponsored by the Rabbinic and Cantorial Association of Albuquerque (RACAA).
Future Collaborations planned in the Winter and Spring
- I have invited Nahalat Shalom to join us for the Reading of the Megillah (the scroll of Esther on Monday, 3/9 at CBI
- Rabbi Min Kantrowitz and I are starting a monthly breakfast for anyone in the Jewish community who is doing Daf Yomi (a daily page of Talmud) on Tuesday morning. February 4th at Sunnyside Up Meeting Room on Menaul.
- Ruthie Maayan of Chavurat Hamidbar and I are planning a joint Melaveh Malkah (musical third meal and Havdallah) on Saturday evening, April 4th at a location to be announced. We will also be singing Passover songs for the upcoming Pesah celebration later that week.
- I have met with a community group about CBI participating in the Resiliamento Festival for Sephardic and Converso Jews in late April. We are discussing holding a traditional Conservative Sephardic Shabbat morning service during the festival. More forthcoming.
- I have tentatively scheduled a joint Musical Shabbaton with Nahalat Shalom for Friday eve, May 8th and a Havdallah on May 9th. Nahalat Shalom members would join us at CBI for our monthly Musical Kabbalat Shabbat on that Friday evening. CBI members would join Nahalat Shalom for a Melaveh Malkah (Musical Third Shabbat meal and Havdallah) at the Nahalat Shalom synagogue in the North Valley on Saturday evening.
I believe these collaborations are win-win for everyone, bringing our broader community together for joyful celebration. I invite everyone at CBI to participate and to celebrate by singing, Hineh mah tov u’mah na’im shevet achim gam yahad. How good and pleasant for brothers and sisters to sit together. (psalms)