Pirke Avot 2:4--“Rabban Gamliel used to say: Do God’s will as your will in order that God do your will as God’s will. Annul your will before God’s will in order that God annul the will of others before your will.”
June 23, 2017
29 Sivan 5777
Shabbat Korach Numbers 16:1-18:32
Tonight at Temple Israel we will hold our 132nd annual meeting. The congregation is led by an amazing president Shelley Schweitzer, dedicated officers and board members, and many volunteers who do the little things necessary to make our congregation a warm and welcoming place. Our Temple Brotherhood and Temple Sisterhood continue to thrive and contribute to the life of the congregation. We have paid volunteers—Sandy Adland, Shelley, and Zachary Charlick—who lead music at our Shabbat services and I am blessed with a supportive and active rabbi emeritus in John Spitzer.
I could list the names of so many people who have contributed to the success of Temple Israel, but I am sure I would leave someone out. If you gave of your time or energy to this holy congregation during the last year, just know that you are appreciated. If you came to a Shabbat or Holy Day service, then I say thank you for joining me in the sanctuary. If you came to any of our ongoing study sessions or participated in one of the ongoing study groups, then know you are doing what Jews have been doing for centuries—trying to find deeper meaning in our Jewish lives. If you coordinated or helped with the garden or served a meal or put together a shoebox or brought food to Temple or contributed time or money to make the world a better place or worked on our Habitat house, then you have done the great mitzvah of tikkun olam—helping to fix and repair the world.
Sometimes we lament that our congregation isn’t the size it once was or that the religious school is just a fraction of decades past, but don’t let it keep you away from Temple. We are celebrating 132 years of Temple Israel’s life and we aren’t going away. The rabbis tell us that the world stands on three great pillars: study, worship, and deeds of loving kindness. So does the life of our Temple. Though it is always nice to have large numbers at a program or service, in the end it doesn’t matter. Every Erev Shabbat we have a 6:15 service and people are there. And don’t miss the Oneg Shabbat that precedes the service as it has become a wonderful social half-hour of time. (I really hate to break up the party sometimes, but we do need to start worship at some point.) Asking for help in a Tikkun Olam project is one of the easiest things I do at Temple Israel because people are happy and willing to say yes. Whether teaching Hebrew, Torah, or just talking about Jewish issues, there are always people who are interested. We are blessed at Temple Israel.
And if you haven’t been to a Family Shabbat service (first Friday between October-May), then you are missing our small, but mighty group of families with young children who want to give their children a strong and loving Jewish identity. I know some older adults don’t like Family Shabbat, but your presence shows these families that they matter. Let us not lament our small number, but celebrate and support those that are here. These little children are our Jewish future and they need to know that we care.
Let us rejoice in the blessings of 132 years of organized Reform Jewish life in Canton. Let us celebrate the many members of our community who have been leaders in this community. We stand on their shoulders and, at the same time, strengthen our shoulders for those yet to come. Come to the annual meeting tonight at 5:45 and stay for the 6:15 service. Say yes to our board and officers and celebrate the possibilities for the years to come.
When you light your Shabbat candles this evening, light one for our past that has created our legacy and foundation for today. Light the other candle for tomorrow and let its light lead us down a path of celebration and blessing.
Rabbi Jon Adland