In the ancient Jewish text, Pirkei Avot, it teaches us: “Do not separate yourself from the community.” Certainly, we need community to celebrate our highs and lift us up when we experience our lows. But if this was the only message Pirkei Avot wanted to teach with this line, it would have said something along the lines of “you need a community”. By using the word “separate”, the text implies that a person has a relationship with their community. This relationship is a two way street. A person receives support from the community and the community receives support from the person. When a person separates from the community, not only is s/he left alone, but the community loses a connection and, in turn, is weakened. Pirkei Avot reminds us that the community needs people. Without people, there is no community.
As we prepare to enter a new year together as a Ramat Shalom family, I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you for being an integral part of this special community. Whether you have been a member for decades or just joined us over the summer, whether you come to the synagogue on a regular basis or your schedule keeps you away more than you would like, your connection to Ramat Shalom is a commitment to community. I want you to know that your commitment allows Ramat Shalom to continue to do the work of a community. Because of you, our doors are open to all who need a place to pray. Our school continues to educate the next generation of Jews. Adults seeking to expand their spiritual life have a place to grow. Simchas are celebrated. Individuals and families in need are given comfort and support and preschoolers are given a place to laugh and learn. None of this would be possible without you.
Thank you for living the ancient words of Pirkei Avot. You have strengthened your connection to the community and we are all better for it.
May this be a meaningful New Year for us all.