Dear TEE community,

“Hillel taught: Do not separate yourself from the community.” Palestinian Talmud, Pirkei Avot 2:4

Our Jewish tradition has always been clear that human beings are social animals. With some exceptions, we thrive most in relationship with others. One of the greatest deprivations of the pandemic has been the loss of opportunities for the group experiences that bring us what the pioneering Jewish sociologist, Émile Durkheim, named “communal joy.” Whether at High Holiday services or a rock concert, there is a significant dimension added to experiences shared with others. This is even more the case when we gather in lovely natural surroundings, as our move to the JCC has allowed us to do during this past year.

In the coming weeks, we will have several important opportunities for communal joy, beginning with this week’s Open Tent Shabbat. All four area Reform congregations will be coming together for services, followed by dinner and a program along with participants from local Conservative synagogues. The last Open Tent event had over seventy participants for a lively, enjoyable evening of conversation and connection.

On Sunday August 21st ,we will be having our Congregational Picnic, an important opportunity to catch up, as well as to introduce prospective members to our community. At 11:30 am there will be a meet and greet for parents of young children so that we may better welcome and engage this emerging cohort. We look forward to seeing everyone else at noon, when we will have a variety of games for all ages and, of course, plenty of time to schmooze.

Most significantly, our August 27th Shabbat morning service will celebrate Mika Slotnick’s being called to the Torah as a bat mitzvah. This truly is an opportunity for communal joy and I hope you will join us welcome her into Jewish adulthood. The Shabbat service will also be the first at which we will be using the extraordinary reading table crafted for us by Gary Horwitz, which allows readers of all heights and abilities to participate in the mitzvah of reading Torah.

Finally, the month’s events will conclude with our Elul New Month Group, celebrating the Jewish New Year of the Animals. Whether in our homes or out in nature, our relationship to other living beings can bring us a significant kind of connected joy. Our observance will include studying a medieval poem about each animal’s unique song, learning a blessing for our animal companions, and sharing mementoes and stories of animals in our own lives and the blessings that they bring to us.

As always, details about these events and more can be found on our website. I hope to see you at some or all of them.

Be well,

Rabbi Drorah Setel