Last Sunday, I got to officiate at the wedding of one of our “kids”. Because her family has been connected to Ramat Shalom for many years, I’ve been blessed to watch her grow into an incredible woman. It was an honor to stand with her and her bashert (soulmate) as they shared vows and began their journey as a married couple.
Sunday’s wedding marked the beginning of a marathon wedding year for Ramat Shalom. Over the next 15 months, I’ll be officiating at at least seven weddings of our “kids” – many of whom I stood with as they became bar/bat mitzvah several years ago. Over the past few years, I’ve been so fortunate to officiate at the weddings of Ramat Shalom “kids” who not only became bar/bat mitzvah at Ramat Shalom but also had their diapers changed in our Early Childhood Center! This summer one of the “kids” whose wedding I officiated at became a mother and last Friday she and her family, including her little girl, celebrated Shabbat with us. This little girl is a fourth generation Ramat Shalomnik. And this year also marks a major milestone for me as a rabbi: I’ll be celebrating the first bar/bat mitzvah of a couple I married!
Over the summer, I got DM’s (messages on Instagram) from our high school kids who traveled to Israel as part of HSI (High School in Israel) and currently I’m getting texts from our kids who’ve just started college, telling me about their first college Shabbat experience. Over the past two weeks, we’ve begun a new iServe (8th-12th grade) year, welcoming 35 of our teens into the synagogue. At the same time, we’ve welcomed more babies and toddlers into our Early Childhood program than we have in years. Their young parents are engaged and eager to get more connected with the Ramat Shalom family. Their presence at last Friday’s End of Summer Luau was impressive.
As I’ve shared before, the Jewish community across the country is changing. There’s a lot written out there about the lack of religious affiliation and commitment of Jewish millennials and Jews in general. Yes, we feel this at Ramat Shalom. But, we’re also experiencing the desire of many young Jews to connect to Judaism, specifically to Ramat Shalom and what we have to offer.
All of us who call Ramat Shalom home should take great pride in the deep and longterm commitment of our grown “kids”, the involvement of our teens and the growing numbers in our Early Childhood Center. It speaks volumes about this home we’ve created and reminds us just how important the work we do on the northwest corner of Broward and Haitus is.
But nothing speaks as powerfully about what we do here at Ramat Shalom than the words that were shared with me by a couple I met with earlier this week. For various reasons, this couple had disconnected from Ramat Shalom over the past few years. Their kids are now in college, but they’ll be home for the holidays. Just the other day, one of their kids made a very powerful request that the couple shared with me: “Mom and Dad, this Rosh HaShanah, it’s time to go home to our Temple. It’s time to go back to Ramat Shalom.” And so, Mom and Dad came to renew their membership at Ramat Shalom, get their High Holiday tickets and come back home thanks to the powerful words of their “kid”.
As we all prepare to welcome the new year together, whether you’re a “regular”, come every once in a while, or join us only on the holidays, your commitment to Ramat Shalom has helped us all turn this place into a home – a home that people want to return to year after year, a home that our kids of all ages want to connect with when they fall in love and want to get married, a home that welcomes our teens, our toddler and our babies and each of us – a home for us all.
I’m looking forward to welcoming us all home this new year. Thank you for making it possible for us all to come together as one big, diverse Ramat Shalom family.