The Weekly Message from Rabbi Dov Gartenberg
Dear Friends at CBI and the Community,
On January 22nd I marked 6 months serving Congregation B’nai Israel. During the past 6 months my goal as interim rabbi was to get to know the members of the congregation. Over these past months I have been busy with a listening tour, meeting members in homes and at the synagogue. This week I am preparing my report for the board about what I learned. I will wait to share with the congregation my findings until after I have had a chance to discuss them with the board.
During these 6 months I have also taken several initiatives to enliven the religious life of our congregation. I have worked with members to create our Chevrat Chesed group that is supporting mourning families and reaching out to our members who are no longer mobile. We have introduced a monthly Musical Kabbalat Service and singing at Havdallah to bring ‘ruach’ (spirit) to services and to enrich the Shabbat experience. I have introduced new adult Jewish learning opportunities for the congregation on Shabbat morning and during the weekdays. I have experimented with ways to revitalize Shabbat morning services through collaboration with other communities and through the use of different formats and teachings.
While I am mostly pleased with the results of these initiatives, I am concerned about becoming overextended and losing sight of my purposes as your interim rabbi. The Rabbis have an incisive expression for overextension and p. “Tafasta Merubeh, Lo Tafasta” “He who grabs too much, grabs nothing.“ תָּפַסְתָּ מְרֻבֶּה, לֹא תָּפַסְתָּ. (Talmud Chagigah 17a)
While the purpose of all these initiatives were to provide a programmatic jumpstart for the congregation, I started to notice that I had little time to prepare for classes, Shabbat teaching, and other critical tasks of being an interim. As a generally optimistic and enthusiastic person, I have learned over a lifetime that I am vulnerable to “Tafasta Merubeh, Lo Tafasta.”
As I enter the next phase of my interim rabbinate with you, I am being careful not to over-program and to offer “too much”. I will continue to teach both at Shabbat services and in fewer offerings to the congregation. By prioritizing my initiatives, my teaching will be sharper and better quality.
I will also now turn my focus to serving as a consultant to the congregation. This is a critical role of an interim rabbi. I bring lots of experience as a congregational rabbi. I have worked with boards and volunteers extensively. I hope to utilize my experience to help B’nai Israel attract volunteers and future leaders. I hope to help the school to become better and to provide inspiring and excellent Jewish education for our young. I will be turning my focus to leadership and volunteer development, to demonstrate effective outreach to the community, and to building a stronger welcoming presence at the congregation.
I hope also to be a role model for Tafasta Merubeh Lo Tafasta for our lay leaders. As a 200 plus member synagogue, we can no longer provide the programming and initiatives that we once did as a 500 member congregation. We must get better at cultivating programs and events that CBIers and the community see are outstanding and that connect us to each other. We should be scrupulous about avoiding over-programming. We should focus on fewer but superior ways of bringing people together.
I am interested to hear your ideas on how we do that. How do we build a culture of excellence in our school and shul, making sure that what we do is both meaningful and inspiring to our membership and to the wider community?
Rabbi Dov Gartenberg
Below are reminders and updates about events that I have offered in February 2020. All were announced in the February Shofar. You can see an electronic version of the Shofar HERE. Some programs have fees to cover food and the cost will be listed. You may RSVP through the office by phone, 505-266-0155, or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or in some cases you can sign up and pay preregistration fees online.
- Tu B’Shvat Seder: (Feb. Shofar p. 8). Monday, February 10th, 6-8pm, Adler Lounge. $12 for adults. $6 for kids over 8. Please RSVP for the Seder by Friday, 2/7 at 3pm. Online Signup: Tu B’Shvat
- Musical Kabbalat Shabbat with Shirat Burque, (Feb. Shofar, p. 7) Friday eve, February 14th, 6-7pm, Small Social Hall. Sisterhood provides Pre-Service Refreshment 5:30 to 6:00pm. Free and open to the Community.
- Singing around the Shabbat Table: (Feb. Shofar, p. 7), Friday, February 14th, 7:15pm in the Adler Lounge. $20 per adult, $6 for kids over 8. Please RSVP for Singing around the Shabbat Table by Thursday, 2/13. Online Sign up: Singing Table
- Young Family Shabbat and Havdallah, Saturday, February 15th, 5-6:30pm (not at 5:30pm in the Shofar). This event is free but requires an RSVP. Please RSVP by Thursday, Feb. 13th. Online signup at Young Families.
CANCELLED Programs originally announced in the Shofar
- Post Tu B’Shvat Cleanup. Sunday, February 16th, 10am.
- Religious School Families Shabbat Lunch, Shabbat 2/23