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Shabbat Mornings for Our School Families

06/30/2023 09:28:45 AM


Rabbi Ilana Goldhaber-Gordon

Dan Leemon has been leading Junior Congregation for twenty-eight years. He shaped an entire generation of CBJ children’s appreciation of Shabbat services. His wisdom, wit, and beautiful voice created a weekly Shabbat experience that was meaningful for parents and children alike. He had a huge impact on our community.

Dan is so skilled he makes service leading seem effortless. In reality, no one can walk in front of a room of children and adults and lead discussions with that kind of depth, without significant weekly prep. His efforts also required a substantial commitment from his wife, Julie Dorsey. Weekends are family time, but Dan was gone most Shabbat mornings. Fortunately for us, Julie herself cares deeply about Jewish education, and is a leader at CBJ and in the broader Jewish community. Twenty-eight years is a lot to give.

Most human beings do not love change, particularly when things are good. As we celebrated Dan during the last few weeks of the school year, many of us were also mourning his departure from this leadership role.

In a private conversation, Dan himself reminded me, change creates opportunities. Already, ideas are bubbling up for what might come next, and they are exciting. Now is the time to dream big; to free ourselves from assumptions about what Shabbat mornings have to be, and ask instead what might they be? 

Are there entirely different ways that we might be engaging our children and their parents? Are there families in our community whom we have not been successfully engaging, who might open up with a different format? What are the core values that we want to shape, and what are the most essential goals that we want to hold on to?

Over the summer, we will have two opportunities for parents and children to brainstorm together: July 8 and July 22nd, 11:30am-12:45pm. We will begin with a little study and prayer, and then turn to a discussion about our hopes for Shabbat mornings at CBJ. I also hope that individuals will reach out to me, to share your thoughts and ideas. 

On the North Grove loop trail of Calaveras State Park, is a park bench with a plaque, with this inscription: “A rule of physics. You cannot leave one place, without arriving in another place.” We are leaving the era of Dan’s Junior Congregation. We are entering a new and exciting era, with great possibilities.

Thu, September 28 2023 13 Tishrei 5784