I already feel Jewish, so why should I belong to a synagogue?
Feeling Jewish means something unique for each person. Yet, this is only the beginning of what it means to be Jewish. We have historically seen ourselves as a covenantal community — tied not only to God, but also to each other in the form of the Jewish people. It is very hard to be Jewish by oneself. Hillel taught approximately 2,100 years ago: “Do not separate yourself from your community.”
Within greater Boston one can easily find a wide variety of synagogues, ranging from liberal to very traditional, urban to suburban, and tiny to very large. Each rightfully has its own identity and emphasis, but all share in certain common functions. Regardless of the nature your Jewish background our outlook, with a bit of searching you are likely to find a synagogue that reflects your own personality and Jewish sensibility.
The synagogue serves to bring Jews together — for worship, study, and community. Here we educate youth and adult alike in all things Jewish. Here we experience friendship. Here we rejoice in each other’s times of joy, and console one another when loss of a loved one must be confronted. Here we come together to address larger Jewish concerns of supporting Israel, and from here we engage in Tikkun Olam — working together to improve the nature of our society and world.
Here we find our own individual and unique place within the Jewish people spread throughout the world, and here we form a new link in the chain of Jewish tradition carrying on historic values for future generations to inherit.
We come together in communal life recognizing that even if we don’t have children of religious school age — still we have the obligation to educate others. Even if we aren’t about to have a bar/bat mitzvah or wedding, our role is to create the context from which these life cycle events gain meaning. Even if we are not in mourning, still it is important for us to support those who have lost a loved one. There are things that we can’t do by ourselves, but by joining together our strength becomes larger than the sum many Jewish individuals. Joining a synagogue, then, can certainly give each of us a sense off fulfillment, but it is more than that. It isn’t just about how we feel inside, but what we do to act out our Jewish values. Join us!
Rabbi Arnold Fertig, MPA, DD, leads Temple Beth Shalom in Melrose on a part-time basis. When not involved with the congregation, he utilizes his extensive experience in the world of recruiting and HR staffing to coach individuals seeking employment as the head coach of Jobhuntercoach.com.