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.
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.
We are witnessing first hand the rapidly changing nature of the American Jewish
Far less peoples come on 2nd day than they used to
Story of 2nd day at Rosh Hashanah in Yardley
Other Jews who fought to have school on that day
Choices As we navigate these unchartered waters we have two choices
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
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
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
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
Obstacles To be these kinds of sacred community we must first recognize the obstacles that can prevent
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
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
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
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
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
A buzz about Chizuk, great summer in terms of membership
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
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
We need to be excellent- Excellent in how we are present for families, excellent in programming, excellent in all areas
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?
Love our little league baseball community-
But they are not our Jewish community
We belong to a few different kinds of communities
Nothing like a Jewish community
No one can be there for you in difficult and happy times
No one can challenge you to think and act like a Jewish community
No community can transform our lives socially, spiritually and in a holistic manner the way our Jewish community can
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
Chizuk Amuno Congregation & Schools is pleased to welcome Rabbi Gruenberg as our Senior Rabbi in July 2018. Prior to his appointment, Rabbi Gruenberg served as the Rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Yardly, Pennsylvania for seven years where he was known for his innovative, involvement in the schools, and engagement of young families.
Rabbi Gruenberg is a product of the Conservative Jewish movement as the child of parents who both made their careers in the Conservative Jewish education field in both synagogue and day-school surroundings. He attended a Solomon Schechter day school, Camp Ramah and USY. He also worked for all three of these organizations as well.
In addition to reinvigorating aspects at his former congregation, Rabbi Gruenberg is involved in the community at-large and has held positions of leadership. Rabbi Gruenberg was the president of the Bucks County Board of Rabbis, a member of the national UJC rabbinic cabinet, and Chair of a Rabbinical Assembly committee on rabbinic care for colleagues new to the field. He was selected to participate in the Kellogg School of Rabbinic Management at Northwestern University and has written numerous articles for media sources, the Bucks County Courier Times and the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent.
Rabbi Joshua Gruenberg grew up in Westchester County, NY and earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from SUNY Binghamton. He was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary as a Conservative rabbi in 2002 and immediately served as Rabbi-in-Residence and Director of Judaic Studies for a Solomon Schechter elementary and high-school. Rabbi Gruenberg and his wife Elissa moved to Nyack in 2004 where he was the spiritual leader of Congregation Sons of Israel for almost seven years. During their time in Nyack they increased their family with two new members, their son Samuel who is 13 and their daughter Kayla who is 11.