Looking Back and Looking Ahead

by Rabbi Audrey Pollack, June 1, 2018

Shalom Fellow Solelniks!
It has been an exciting year! We have many reasons to celebrate and have had enjoyed new opportunities for learning, growing, praying and socializing together at Solel this year. Recently I tried to make a list of all of the opportunities for community, spiritual growth and Jewish learning that are Solel Congregation. Here are just some of the highlights from this year:

  • Welcomed the Tanous family to Canada
  • Celebrated 30 years of Arliene Botnick at a wonderful afternoon Tea
  • Welcomed over 250 friends in our interfaith community to our Invite Your Neighbour service
  • Kicked off our Solel adult choir
  • Learned and connected with each other in the Rabbi’s class on Jewish Spiritual Parenting
  • Created our Jewkulele band at Bet Sefer
  • Made new friends at our Interfaith Peace Camp for kids, and we are now looking forward to our 2nd summer programme this July – and enjoyed a progressive dinner and interfaith experience for our adults in the three faith communities
  • Enjoyed celebrating Israel’s 70th with a series of programmes and Israeli rabbis as guest speakers
  • Excercised our muscles with kids krav maga
  • Celebrated a great evening of fun and fundraising at our Nacho Average Fiesta
  • Welcomed Shavuot with a meditative nature walk

There is much more, including all of our regular Shabbat and holiday services, Bet Sefer classes, Lunch n learns, Jewish Information Classes and more.
We have many reasons for us to be proud of all that we do – especially for our size.
Our aim is to have something for everyone at Solel. See something missing or something you would like to make happen? Let’s see what we can create together.

In December, at the (URJ) Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial convention in Boston, our leadership participated in a special session led by a futurist. A futurist helps organizations not to be surprised about what can happen in the future by looking at current cultural trends and long-term patterns of change.

As we look towards the future of liberal Judaism in North America, our Solel leadership is looking at ways to learn from cultural trends in society — trends that are having deep implications on Jewish life. We are encouraging experimentation – while we have clarity of focus on our identity and expectations, we also need to have flexibility.

Our president, Robbin Botnick, has led our Solel Board in the development of 5 Pillars of Strategic Planning. Our leadership is building on our strengths, expanding on what we are best at, the assets, talents and capabilities that we have or have access to within our wider community beyond Solel. We are committed to decision making that is in the best interests of Solel focusing both on immediate results, while also looking to the long term future.

What does this mean for our Solel Jewish community? It means that at the same time that we are planning and programming for the coming year or two, and looking at short-term goals, we are also experimenting with ways to plan for the next ten years. For instance, looking at our current 8 year old Bet Sefer students, how might we best engage with them and plan curriculum so that in 10 years, when they are 18, they will be our emerging future Solel leaders. This year we experimented with the curriculum for our grade 9 students, planning interactive engagement, which involved field trips out into the community. We are partnering with PJ Library to provide programming and outreach to young families who are not yet connected to Solel. What will Jewish worship, Jewish education, Jewish engagement look like ten years in the future? How can we best reach out to the unaffiliated Jews in Peel? We will be experimenting and experiencing some different models while consciously continuing to uphold our core Solel values and identity.

Most of all, I am always mindful of the fact that Judaism is not contained in a box- while we are in the age of digital connectivity, and expanding and shifting boundaries – in order to practice we need community. Jewish life is where you live.

As Solelniks (pathfinders) – we are continuing together on the path of being a kehillah kedoshah, a community where joys and sorrows are shared, the path of Torah is vibrant, and where we reach out to do God’s work in the world.

Rabbi Audrey S. Pollack

Filed under: Rabbi's Message

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