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High Holidays & High Notes: Building Community & Connection

09/01/2023 05:00:00 PM


Tami Raubvogel, President

To say that my family likes Taylor Swift is an understatement. Although my son and I are probably just regular fans, my husband and daughter are such serious Swifties that their love for her music is way more than enough for the four of us.  

On any given day, there could be a flurry of text messages, a phone conversation or little videos shared via email about this singer.  We have had countless discussions about her musical composition, the Easter eggs in the lyrics, her instagram posts, her concerts, and her public image. It is a lot, to say the least.

Out of all of this, there is one thing that really intrigues me about TS:  her connection to her fans. She has this ability –through her videos, her songs, her social media presence, and her live performances– to make her fans feel like they are part of her inner circle. Of course, other musicians, authors, poets and other performers have been connecting to their audience for years, but this is on a whole other level. 

What is it about how Taylor Swift interacts with people that they feel so connected to her? The skeptic in me knows that it is clearly (at least partly) a well-crafted publicity act, but the believer in me just loves the way that Taylor Swift seems to really like her fans. She makes them feel appreciated and valued. 

Whether you are a true Swiftie, a mild fan, or have not heard one note of her music, showing appreciation and making others feel valued is something we should all aspire to. In fact, I would really like us to consider it as we prepare for the upcoming Jewish holiday. 

About now, many of us are taking a deeper look at relationships and examining ways to make them better. So why add something else to reflect on our already busy plates? Because it is important. Being a member of a community means you are there for others as much as they are there for you. We build a strong community by making connections. We make connections by making people feel appreciated and needed.

This high holiday season, there are many different opportunities for worship. The clergy and staff have gone out of their way to make services accessible to everyone. They have done a great job of providing a meaningful space for this holiday. But I think it is on all of us, as a community, to make the best use of the space by creating a welcoming environment. 

There are many ways to do this. The easiest is simply smiling and greeting those who are sitting around you. You might consider signing up to be a greeter during one of the services and welcome everyone. Perhaps you will take some time to acknowledge people you have not seen in awhile and have a deeper conversation. Above all, I believe attending services and other high holiday programs help connect to others through praying, teaching and learning together. 

Of course you don’t need to be a megastar to make people feel like they are part of something big. This high holiday, my hope is that we all take the time to create connections to make everyone in our community feel like they are a member of the CBJ inner circle.

Mon, March 4 2024 24 Adar I 5784