You may recall a story/teaching from Rosh Hashanah of the person who decided she/he wanted to make the new year special in a resolution to go out and change the world for the better. The punch line of the story is that in order to change the world…in order to change your community…in order to change your family…you have to start with changing yourself.
That story comes to mind as I look forward to some special activity in January and February as B’nai Israel more actively engages programs with Common Ground, our growing partnership with faith communities and non-profits, each uniquely dedicated to improving conditions in Solano County.
I sense some confusion about Common Ground in people wondering how being part of this program will be of direct benefit to B’nai Israel, given our need to continue to grow and develop internally. Paradoxically, at the core of Common Ground is the same principle upon which our Rosh Hashanah story stands. In order to change the world you have to start with yourself. To clarify, Common Ground, and the staff person, Surya Kalra, who works with us in our participation in Common Ground, is premised on starting first with each constituent organization. Thus, the dues we pay to belong first go to having the support of Surya to work with us on our needs and our issues as you the members define them. Only after we do that, in the form of what are called House Meetings, can we effectively contribute at the larger community table in addressing the broader needs of the County.
Given B’nai Israel’s need to grow and develop internally, our membership in Common Ground and having Surya on our team is a wonderful and timely blessing.
Toward that end…further growth of CBI, we are launching in January and February some special programs I hope you will put on your personal calendars and plan to attend. It starts on January 18, Shabbat morning, when I will introduce the “theme” in the service that celebrates the giving of the 10 Commandments. Then, January 25, known as Shabbat Mishpatim, which highlights the Torah portion that identifies Judaism as a program that addresses the details and complexities of life in the real world, we are designating that Shabbat as Common Ground Sabbath. That morning, the drash / teaching will focus on the impact of that Torah portion on CBI’s place in community life, both within our synagogue and beyond. The drash will take on the nuance of a Common Ground House Meeting as attendees will be invited to add comments on the meaning of the Torah portion as it affects their personal lives. That will segue into a special Shabbat Kiddush where we will continue the conversation.
That, in turn, will lead to a special House Meeting gathering at CBI on Saturday evening February 1st featuring Havdallah (the delightful ceremony that ends the Sabbath) and will focus on identifying what each member would like to see in terms of both maintaining activities and programs they like and adding new ones that will enhance life at CBI and attract new people to join the synagogue.
As we become stronger in identifying CBI characteristics that you like and changes you would like to bring in, this will in turn strengthen our position and standing in the broader community for future growth for us and the community at large.
So, please, with the New Year, resolve to join in this process. Let us look to measures that can allow us to change the world for the better by starting as Common Ground would have us do, by looking within to grow a stronger and more vibrant CBI.
Stay tuned and or see elsewhere in this bulletin for more information and details of this growing dimension in CBI life and presence in the Solano County community.
Happy secular New Year even as I wish you a continuing healthy and blessed 5774.