Rabbi's Column - June 2017

Editor’s Note: These remarks were first shared on the occasion of TBT’s 40th Annual Meeting.

On September 2, 1971, there was a short article in the Shoreline Times that changed the lives of each one of us. The article was headlined: "Jewish Congregation." The article read:

The Shoreline Jewish Community Congregation will meet at the Grove School dining

room on Friday, September 10th at 8pm. Those who have not been contacted may

call Mrs. Barbara Sklaire for further information.

Thus Temple Beth Tikvah was born. 46 years ago. Six years later, land was purchased and a building was constructed. This building. It wasn’t a given.

The founders - our founders - didn’t have a map with precise instructions. Should we build a building? Maybe we should just buy books. Bricks or books? Given the choice, I would choose books every time.

But maybe it is not simply a choice. Maybe we need the bricks to house the books. We need the building to house the people. We need a sanctuary that God might dwell amongst us.

I confess: looking back over this past year, there are moments when it doesn’t feel like God is present. Moments of strife. Moments of challenge. Moments of administrivia.

The holiest moments are so clear: when we filled this sanctuary to over-flowing for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. When we built our Sukkah out on our deck and packed the deck for services. When we had one of our largest Passover seders on record and filled this Social Hall with Pesach spirit and matza balls.

But God doesn’t need holidays to join us. Every time we have the opportunity to say hello to someone we haven’t met before, God is present. When we try new ideas, like our Jewish Mindfulness and Meditation practice, God is present. When we bring MahJongg into the library on Friday afternoons, God is present.

Our Religious School boasts over 100 children, our Sunday morning Tefillah is robust with singing and prayer. Our Nursery School children spell L-O-V-E with every smile. Our staff cares for each other and cares for you in ways beyond measure.

Bricks or Books? Building or People? A little 3-letter-word helps us answer the question. The word is A-N-D. Bricks AND Books. Building AND People.

We hope to care for our building by making it more welcoming, more inclusive, more accessible, and lighter, warmer, and more open.

Most important of all, remember that it only matters to the extent that we, the people, become more welcoming, more inclusive, more accessible, and lighter, warmer, and more open. I believe that we have grown in all of these attributes over the past year, and I hope we will continue the trend in the year ahead.

Rabbi Offner