Today is April 17, 2021 /

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Chizuk Amuno Congregation

Rosh HaShanah – “Our Collective Future”

I am happy to share my sermons with you from the Holidays.  We are also including the links to the streamed video from the sermons as well.  My only request is your understanding that I rarely give the exact version of what is written on the pages in front of me in live time in the sanctuary.  In addition the sermon titled “Our Collective future” was given from an outline.  I have included that outline as well as the video link.  If anyone is interested in any of the individual introductions to the prayers that I gave throughout the holidays please contact me directly.

  1. Introduction
  2. Shannah Tovah
  3. It is an incredible gift that a congregation of our size can have this moment together. This is an intimate moment of prayer and community that synagogues our size often never get to experience.  I imagine that some of you might see this a little different.  For some, this might be a difficult moment of nostalgia of what once was.  A manifestation of a changing Jewish community, and not a positive change at that.  During our Selichot service, Rabbi Wechsler pointed out that there are times when nostalgia is a difficult phenomenon.  But she also stated that nostalgia can be our bridge from the past to the present and beyond.  So I imagine that some of you are sitting here thinking of a time when there was no possible way that we could fit together in any one room on this the second day of Rosh Hashanah, and what a sad statement that fact is about the current Jewish world.  But I also imagine that some of you are sitting here today, and enjoying our community being together as one, on this very important day.
  4. Changing Community
  5. We are witnessing first hand the rapidly changing nature of the American Jewish
  6. Far less peoples come on 2nd day than they used to
  7. Story of 2nd day at Rosh Hashanah in Yardley
  8. Other Jews who fought to have school on that day
  9. Painful
  • Choices As we navigate these unchartered waters we have two choices
  1. Dig in our heels and remain the same, This does not have a good ending, we are watching conservative synagogues and organizations fail and close for this very reason
  2. We do not want to be this, so we must adapt to this new Jewish world and become the communities that we need to be to thrive today.  I believe with all of my heart that Conservative Judaism is best poised to lead this next generation of Jewish evolution.  Meet people where they are and take them to new heights
  3. But to be successful today and going forward We must also recognize that the Jews of today have many choices, unlike times gone by, we have to give them a reason to affiliate and we have to go to them
  4. We must understand that the traditional reasons for affiliation are not what they once were, we must be varied in how we meet the needs of the Jewish families of today, so they will happily and organically choose us without thinking twice, this is a new challenge but also a new opportunity
  5. Obstacles To be these kinds of sacred community we must first recognize the obstacles that can prevent
  6. Language- discomfort or intimidation-some of the language we use in day to day synagogue life is foreign to people, some is intimidating and not welcoming There are terms we use that send people away, we must be diverse and a place for all Jewish families, no such thing as a normative Jewish family, Kipah story-Genizah Project with a non-Jewish father who had a glove compartment full of Kipot
  7. Dues investment- pay then pray, actually we want people to get to know us first and then commit, no longer will they just join local synagogue, we need to show them that the investment is worth it, I know that it is, but I also know that we need to be better at modeling this for others
  8. Edifice- We have a big building, can be difficult to navigate, some have a hard time, move beyond the walls of our building, meet people in the community in our homes, we cannot sit and wait for people to come to us
  9. Relationships- we are big, and we are also living in the age of relational Judaism, how do we bring the intimate into the large, one relationship at a time, blessed with a large staff, we can be here for all needs- story of the yartzeit plaque, Over the past few weeks had the opportunity to place yartzeit plaques with two families, we can be here for every moment
  10. Good News
    1. Our history and limitless potential, been here for 150 and positioned to be here for another 150, staff and lay-leadership that cares deeply and is passionate about our community
    2. A buzz about Chizuk, great summer in terms of membership
    3. Our schools- Vibrant and evidence of the next generation, Goldsmith, Rosenbloom, Krieger and Stulman, we are actively educating and providing for the enrichment of the souls of our entire community
    4. Kehillah Kedosha driven by our values and by doing sacred work of torah, avodah and gemilut hasadim, that never changes and that is what it most important, but we have a responsibility to make it easy for others to experience this, to expand our reach and that requires us to be active providing for the needs of all of our current membership and to be engaged on a daily basis in seeking out new our community members, our new partners in this holy endeavor
    5. We need to be excellent- Excellent in how we are present for families, excellent in programming, excellent in all areas
  11. Conclusion
    1. Sam baseball story- All start team, can’t participate because he is going to camp, does he need a place to stay for the summer?
    2. Love our little league baseball community-
    3. But they are not our Jewish community
    4. We belong to a few different kinds of communities
    5. Nothing like a Jewish community
    6. No one can be there for you in difficult and happy times
    7. No one can challenge you to think and act like a Jewish community
    8. No community can transform our lives socially, spiritually and in a holistic manner the way our Jewish community can
    9. This is our community, not mine not any one individual but ours. I can’t tell you how excited I am to build our community together and to expand our walls and reach so that we can reach so many more who hunger for meaningful and dynamic Jewish living



Rabbi Gruenberg Rosh Hashanah II – Sermon 2018 from Chizuk Amuno Congregation on Vimeo.