Your Shabbat Guest
I write this post just a couple of days after Yom Kippur. This was my first Yom Kippur in service to a community in the role of Spiritual Leader. Our Holidays thus far have been nothing short of delightful.
Congregation Bnai Jacob, of Bakersfield, is a close-knit Kehillah. Placement directors would label this community in the “VS” (very small) category. What Bnai Jacob lacks in size, they more than make up for in their collective thirst for knowledge and life experiences.
Over Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, our congregation davened and sang together, learned together, and of course ATE together.
A couple of episodes ring clearly in my memory. First, when you have anywhere from 30-50 people for services, EVERYONE gets a chance to do something in the service. Aliyot to the Torah are special and they, along with Hagbah and G’lila, provide great learning experiences.
Second, the congregation loves its after-Shul ONEG. Members of the Kehillah like to linger, catch up with each other, tell jokes and stories, etc.
Our congregation has a communal break-the–fast at the conclusion of Yom Kippur. What a feast! Rather than the usual “break for the parking lot” mayhem that might exist elsewhere, the entire community remains in Shul and eats together, unwinding, and enjoying each other’s company.
Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur provided many great learning opportunities – both inside and outside of the liturgy. It was during these learning “opps” that I really had the chance to get to know more about our congregants as Jews.
Prior to the beginning of the Neilah service, I offered the congregation a preview of the coming Sukkot holiday – reminding them that there is much more Yom Tov and celebrating ahead – and that the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe) WITHOUT the time known as ZMAN SIMCHATENU (our time of joy) is by no means the “full-on” Fall Holiday experience. More from Bakersfield over Sukkot. Chag Sameach!