The Vision of Our Mishkan Advisory Group

Keeping Connected    May 2019

What is a synagogue? A temple? The Temple? What was the Mishkan? What is a sanctuary? What is sacred space? What is sacred time? What is sacred? These are the types of questions that might be asked in a Jewish Trivial Pursuit game and they are questions that are being asked by members of our Mishkan Advisory Group. In the fall we shared with our members that the ritual committee had renamed itself the Mishkan Advisory Group. In thinking of our congregation as a mishkan, a place that holiness is present, our intent is to take a more holistic approach to spirituality, prayer, worship and ritual in our community than we have in the past.

At the end of March, the Mishkan Advisory Group held a moving holy book burial ceremony that involved our students and many members of our congregation. I would say that for those of us who were present, that experience felt like sacred time and the place that the books were buried, under the trees that were planted years ago by our students, will feel like a sacred place. I am sure that looking back on their religious school experiences, the students who participated will be sure to remember that day in their Jewish lives. Thank you to all who participated in helping to make that ritual a success: Lynne Rothstein, Mitch Hyatt, Josh Degen, Ethel Kamien and all the members of the committee. In the summer and fall, Linda Lischer will help us with plantings around where the books are buried so that this location will become a place that our members might want to visit for inspiration.

Another step that we have taken is to write a vision statement for the work we hope to do in the future. I would like to share this vision statement with you.

The Mishkan Advisory Group will be a committee that envisions opportunities for sacred living and builds an inclusive community where members are invited to be on a journey of personal Jewish experience and spiritual exploration.

We hope that this vision resonates with you and that you would like to collaborate with us as we begin this work.

As you know the strategic planning committee worked very hard to create a comprehensive survey regarding all aspects of Congregation Shalom. Our committee has begun to look at the responses regarding worship, but we feel that it will be helpful for us to delve deeper in order to gain even more feedback. Towards those ends we hope to put together a survey about prayer, worship, ritual and spirituality in months ahead. Please be on the lookout and we hope you will respond. In the near term, we are trying to understand the results of the survey regarding the timing for Shabbat eve services. We are not fully sure how to interpret the results regarding service start time and how this balances with the need to travel from work and the ability to have a Shabbat dinner before or after services. In the near term, for next year, we will continue to have the “pre-neg” for Sunset Shabbat services at 6:00 pm, but will start the service promptly at 6:30 pm. In this way, the folks that have some travel issues will have an extra ten minutes to arrive in time for a 6:30 pm service. The food is always optional and will be there for those who want. We know there is no perfect scenario, but we will try to learn more from all of you so that we can fine tune the timing in the days ahead. Most importantly we always welcome feedback.

Warm regards,

Rabbi Shoshana M. Perry