“A three-fold cord is not easily broken,” writes the author of Ecclesiastes and anyone who was at the JCC this past Shavuot knows exactly what that means.
This past Shavuot we had our first community wide holy day celebration called “Chagenu” which means “our holiday.” It was comprised of most of the synagogues across the North Shore, the Federation, Cohen Hillel Academy and last, but not least, the JCC. And to witness it was to see the possibilities of this Jewish community and the potential for what lies ahead. On Shavuot morning this was a community at its best.
No, it wasn’t easy to make this happen. We had lots of different styles, many different needs, and quite a variety of halachic constraints and considerations to make everyone feel comfortable and at home. There were lots of moving parts, lots of details to be taken care of and we simply had no idea who might show up and how great or small the attendance might be.
And yet, on a cold, wet day. In the middle of the week, a few hundred people came together to daven and study, to eat and to play. We had multiple service options and many alternative study and prayer opportunities, culminating in a joyous lunch and hours of swimming for the rest of the day. Whereas normally each synagogue gets a minyan plus people to turn out for a less than festive experience, this past Shavuot we had an event, a remarkable experience and a chag, a holy day, in the deepest meaning of the word.
It was a chag because we were all getting along. It was a chag because we realized that what we share outweighs our differences. It was a chag because it was alive, it was vibrant, it was a celebration the way our chagim, our holy days, were meant to be observed. Enough of the mediocrity. Enough of simply surviving. Enough of each of us and our respective institutions and synagogues going it alone. It’s time to be energized. It’s time to feel successful. It’s time to thrive and it’s time to experience the chagim the way they were meant to be experienced, as holy days, as holidays, as our holiday – as chagenu.
On Shavuot we were strong, we were not a threefold cord but many, many strands, many institutions and organizations united, bound up with one another and invincible in so many ways. And at the center was our beloved JCC. Though each organization was crucial, and thank you to the Federation for sponsoring the day’s activities, without the JCC it never would have come to be.
The JCC in some way, shape or form must be revitalized and it is up to each and every one of us to help envision it, create it and sustain it as it is an essential strand in this communities cord.
My friends let this be the beginning of our newfound partnerships and collaborations. Let this be the beginning of a streamlined, united (not divided), energized and invincible era in this community’s Judaism. From Lynn to Gloucester, from the JCC, to the Federation, to Cohen Hillel and every synagogue in between – it’s time for an awakening. It’s time for a new direction. It’s time for Chagenu – let’s do it again.
Am Echad; Lev Echad – One People; One Heart