Shabbat Evening Service
From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon
This Rosh Hashanah, using our new High Holiday prayerbook, Mishkan HaNefesh, I enjoyed listening to the Prayer for the Congregation. In the past, it didn’t stand out to me; but, this year, Bruce Levy, Temple President, and I noticed its inclusive tone and welcome blessing. In Mishkan HaNefesh, the congregation is recognized for exactly what it is and precisely who we are. Here’s a portion of it:
“For our members:
Diverse in age, interest, and background;
Jews by birth, Jews by choice,
and those of other faiths who join with us;
all who offer their time and talent,
their love and commitment
For all who come here, on this Holy Day to share the search for meaning and renewal: Your presence is a blessing, your friendship a gift.”
Congregation Beth Israel is diverse in many ways. We welcome everyone who is part of our families and circles of friends who celebrate faith, moral and righteous deeds, and a strong future for the Jewish people everywhere. What unites us is our commitment to core values that have defined us since we were organized as a congregation in 1854. Our devotion to God, Torah and Israel is central, but so is our commitment to modernity that includes the world where we participate in work and community.
I’m so pleased to open the doors to Beth Israel very wide and to lower the barriers to entry and participation. I’m especially proud to officiate at interfaith weddings where Jewish children will be reared in a Jewish home and where faith and family, both, are respected. Interfaith couples are warmly welcomed, and their role in the congregation, especially as models of Sabbath service attendance, is a real mitzvah. I’m also proud to officiate at same-sex weddings for Jewish men and women who find love a reason to be blessed under the chuppah. None of this would be possible without the unanimous support of our Board of Trustees, whose outlook is informed by Reform Judaism and their belief that diversity and harmony can coexist. Our worship spaces are big and beautiful for a reason; they glorify God’s blessings found in each of you, in God’s creative acts.
On behalf of Cantor Mutlu, Rabbi Scott, and Rabbi Herman, I want to welcome you, again, to a sweet New Year at Congregation Beth Israel, and to participation in your personal faith journey through inspiring worship, engaging education, and joyful congregational gatherings.
May you and your loved ones be sealed in the Book of Lives Well Lived.