Even as the music I listen to is now digitally recorded – downloaded or streamed onto my devices – I still have my collection of vinyl record albums stored in a cabinet. Good thing because collecting record albums is popular again. Retailers observe that this trend back to vinyl is particularly noticeable among younger consumers. I guess it’s time to dust off my old turn-table!
Old form or new, the song matters more than how it is recorded. We listen to and collect the music we enjoy, the songs that touch us. We don’t buy the songs we don’t want to hear. What’s interesting in the revival of vinyl records is that recording artists want to present their new songs in this old fashion. Why? Because “everything old is new again.”
The same is true in synagogue life. At Chizuk Amuno we sustain much that is familiar and traditional. We also do a lot that is innovative and designed to touch us in new ways. Some of us are searching for something new. Others of us are newly discovering old traditions. “The old shall be renewed and new shall be consecrated,” taught Rav Abraham Isaac Kook, the first pre-State Chief Rabbi in Israel.
What matters most to me as your rabbi, and I hope to you who are participants in the life of this synagogue community, is that we record and hear meaningful messages, participate and share in experiences that engage us as Jews. To accomplish this we need to develop deeper relationships with each other, appreciating and celebrating the personalities and backgrounds of we who form our synagogue family. Today a synagogue must be a place that values us as individuals above all else and mediates personal meaning for each and every one of us through the Jewish celebration and learning we enjoy together.
This is an important refrain, one I’ve suggested many times before. It reflects the core principles that guide me as a rabbi. I believe that the needs of the people in our synagogue community come first, before the needs of our synagogue institution. I believe in equality among and between all of us. I believe in fostering an inclusive and welcoming community. I believe integrity must attach to everything we do. I believe the Judaism we teach and represent must be authentic.
I continue to hold on to this core set of values just like I still have my collection of vinyl record albums. At a time when we look back in order to move forward, the start of a new Jewish year feels like a good time for me to dust them off and replay them. A Hebrew folk song reminds us: “The days pass and the years turn, but the melody always remains.”
L’Shanah Tovah, for a year of goodness, health, and peace.