My brother, sister, and I learned melodies in junior congregation we still sing today. We ran through the synagogue’s hallways after our teen congregation deli lunch and when we got tired running the maze, we went to somebody’s house to hang out, play chess, or toss a ball in the park.
This exact experience doesn’t need to be the reality for everyone, but it makes me wonder what it takes for a community to feel this way. Judaism is not a performance for some to produce; it’s a home for all to build. One of the challenges in synagogue life is for families to feel that kind of ownership of Judaism, an authenticity and comfort to be at home in an ancient tradition, as their full selves. Many synagogues respond to that challenge with programs that reinforce a producer/consumer mindset. Staff produces a program. Congregants consume it. Repeat.
To read the rest of Rabbi Weininger's essay go to TC Jewfolk