Rooted in Relationships

by Rabbi Audrey Pollack, September 29, 2018

Excerpted from Rabbi Pollack’s 5779/2018 Kol Nidre sermon:

How often in your day or week do you really feel heard or seen? We may have many interactions every day – at the grocery store, on the train or subway, or waiting to meet a friend – surrounded by people, yet somehow we still feel alone. “We’re getting used to a new way of being alone together….We expect more from technology and less from one another, and seem increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship ,” writes MIT sociologist Sherry Turkle. More and more we are physically together but truly fundamentally alone.

Today it is much harder to make new friends even though we have so much technology to create “virtual” connections. We can easily connect on social media, send a quick mazal tov or note of condolence, but much of this connection is superficial scrolling through postings. Less and less do we send a handwritten note or pick up the phone to call.

In chapter 2 of Genesis we are reminded לֹא־טֹ֛וב הֱיֹ֥ות הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְבַדֹּ֑ו Lo tov hey-ot ha-adam l’vado “It is not good for a human being to be alone.” God realizes that being alone is no way for Adam to live. So, God creates Chava to be Adam’s partner, creating the first relationship in the history of humanity.

Judaism is rooted in relationships. Communal prayer requires the presence of a minyan—ten people. In our morning prayers we read the passage from the Mishnah Elu D’varim – these are the obligations without measure whose reward too is without measure – to welcome the stranger to visit the sick , to rejoice with bride and groom, to console the bereaved, to accompany the dead for burial These primary tasks of Jewish life require us to be in relationship with one another, to build a support system around ourselves. One of the three names for a synagogue is Beit Knesset – a house of gathering. At its core, a synagogue is a community where people build relationships with each other.

We have a wonderful synagogue community here at Solel. When I hear the stories of why individuals and families joined Solel, they speak about how they were greeted warmly, and made to feel welcome. They may have come because of Bet Sefer Solel or for services and life cycle events. The initial connections led to relationships, lifelong friendships, and a sense that Solel is a place to make meaning, to form deep connections, a real sense of shared purpose, opportunities to do things together out of a sense of shared meaning and mutual obligation, while continuing to pray and learn and celebrate and search for the sacred together. When we get to know one another, really meet each other and know each other’s stories, we become a kehilah kedosha, a sacred community.

Deep down, we are here because it is not good for human beings to be alone. Life is with people. We want to be part of a community of friends to be with us for the joys and sorrows of life, to strengthen our families, to learn and study Jewish texts and practices to fill our lives with meaning, to have a sense of belonging to the Jewish people, and to give back to the community, to do tikkun olam, to help build a relationship with each other and with God, however we define God.

All of us are part of the greater unity of this community. In this new year it is our goal to build stronger relationships, to share our stories with one another. When I came to Solel, I issued an invitation to join me for coffee (ok tea) or a walk. My door is always open. Call, email, set up a time for coffee…or find me on Facebook. Share your story with others, the people here this evening, sitting to your right and to your left. Each and every one of us has something to share in making Solel a kehilah kedosha, a sacred community. May we all take part in making that dream a reality.

Rabbi Audrey S. Pollack

Filed under: Rabbi's Message

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