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Finding Communal and Cultural Center

04/29/2022 02:09:38 PM


Tami Raubvogel, President

Recently I went to Mesa Verde National Park in Cortez, Colorado. Thousands of years ago the Ancestral Pueblo Native Americans lived in this area in iconic cliff dwellings. I learned that in nearly every cliff dwelling there is a Kiva, which was considered the cultural and religious center of the whole community. The Kiva is the place where the clan met to tell stories that were passed down from generation to generation in order to maintain traditions and preserve the culture. I also learned that the Kiva may have physically been the central location, however it was the whole community that was responsible for preserving the culture.

The story of the Ancestral Pueblo people reminded me of our cultural and religious center, our synagogue. The synagogue is the place where we meet to tell the story, through the weekly reading of the Torah, to maintain tradition, and preserve our culture. We also pass down traditions and stories by connecting generations through our L'Dor v'Dor program. However, just like the Ancestral Pueblo clans, it is our community that preserves the culture. And at the very center of our community is our spiritual leader, Rabbi Ezray.

For the last 27 years, Rabbi Ezray has exemplified Jewish values and reminded us weekly of the importance of the story of our Jewish heritage. Over the last 27 years, I’ll bet that he has made an impact on every single congregant in one way or another.

Have you celebrated a B’nai Mitzvah in the family? Rabbi Ezray was likely there to share in your joy. Have you suffered the loss of a loved one? Have you gone through a challenging time at some point in your life? Rabbi Ezray was likely there to support you during those times as well.

Have you listened to one of his sermons and found yourself thinking about the message days or weeks later? Rabbi Ezray looks for ways to share meaningful teachings and strives to make connections from our past to our present day.

Most of you know that Rabbi Ezray believes building relationships is one of the most important aspects of our synagogue. In addition to feeding our souls, he literally feeds our community by making sure Shabbat kiddush is available to everyone every week.

He has honored us, every day, by being the spiritual center of our community. So the Gala Committee has decided that the 2022 CBJ Gala will be honoring him.

As you know, this year the Gala committee had to reimagine the Gala to create an environment safe for everyone. In that reimagining we thought about Rabbi Ezray. We asked ourselves, what would he like? What has he taught us? What values has he modeled for the last 27 years?

Which is why we have expanded the Gala to include the whole weekend. By incorporating the Kabbalat Shabbat and Saturday morning service, we have created opportunities for the whole community to connect with each other through joyous prayer and meaningful learning.

And just as Rabbi Ezray taught us, that having kiddush together is essential, there will be a dessert buffet on Friday and a beautiful kiddush luncheon on Saturday.

We know the Gala wouldn’t be the same without a festive party. The amazing Gala committee has planned an event specifically designed as a happy hour to allow flexibility for those attending to reconnect, build relationships and enjoy time together with great food.

I encourage you to think about how Rabbi Ezray has impacted your life and the life of your friends, loved ones, and our synagogue. I hope you can help honor his service to our community by joining me at any or all of the Gala weekend events.

Mon, August 15 2022 18 Av 5782