Divrei Tikvah

Rabbi Johanna Hershenson’s Words of Hope


Divrei Tikvah
From Rabbi Johanna Hershenson

The month of June screams: School’s out for summer! My own daughter, Abi, graduates from university along with many of TBT’s kids and grandkids spread out all over the country.

In Temple Beth Tikvah, June closes our fiscal and program year. Our annual meeting (even online) affirms new board members and a budget for the year ahead. Our program committee comprised of Lauralei Garrity, Kathy Schindel, Sheila Luber, Kerrie Zurovsky, Mel Siegel and myself, has reviewed and discussed, reviewed again and will early this month again discuss, a program calendar for July 2022 – June 2023.

In addition to reasserting our two Friday nights, one Saturday night per month and our weekly adult learning group, we are exploring how shifting our paradigm from a “program structured” model to a “relational” model would look in real life.

“Relational Judaism” has been a buzz word in the American Jewish community for nearly ten years. In fact, eight years ago Mark and Kathy Schindel and I attended a Union for Reform Judaism Biennial Convention and listened in workshops to Ron Wolfson, author of the the concept. He is from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles (formerly called the University of Judaism).

The idea is to move from transactional member engagement (i.e., member pays a yearly donation and expects x, y, z services) to relational member engagement. Relational member engagement utilizes the congregation to strengthen a variety of relationships with which each of us reconciles as we live life.

Imagine a congregation that makes me a better, more content human being? A synagogue in which participation deepens my relationships whether with family or friends or neighbors?

In the relational model we ask a few questions that shed a subtle yet powerful light on all the things we do together as a congregation.

Me and my big questions: How do my experiences in Temple Beth Tikvah impact me, body and mind? Do I find peace or ease or purpose as a result of my engagement? Do I connect more deeply or profoundly with God/nature/that which is beyond me because of my learnings and reflections in services or adult learning or pastoral counseling?

Me and my relationships: Does my time in Temple Beth Tikvah feed me in relationship to the people I love most in my life? Do I find insight or camaraderie around trying to be a better parent, partner, friend, or neighbor?

Me and my community: Do I serve my community and feel protected by my community through my membership in Temple Beth Tikvah? Am I proud when it comes up in conversation to represent or be connected to Temple Beth Tikvah?

Me and Jewish peoplehood: Does my experience in Temple Beth Tikvah connect me to culture and history, ritual and food and language, humor and music of the Jewish people worldwide? Do I feel connected to my Jewish roots? Do I feel authentic and satisfied in my Jewish practice?

Our program committee will reflect on these questions and measure our services and gatherings and classes to make sure we consciously address them.

As we begin gathering again, and reconnecting with one another and our congregation, I hope we talk about what holds us together and how we might cultivate together by focusing on what Temple Beth Tikvah does for us and might do for us. If the whole is to be greater than the sum of our parts…we really ought to feel like our synagogue engagement makes us better individuals, partners, parents, friends, neighbors and citizens.

Our president, Kerrie Zurovsky, and board members, Cere Fingerhut and Sheila Luber, started this conversation with a valiant listening campaign celebrating our coming of age as a congregation. Let’s keep the conversation going!

If you have an idea, a wish, a talent to share, please reach out and tell me what is on your mind. Learning to structure ourselves around strengthening relationships will require everybody’s two cents. I’m interested in what you might have to say.B’virkat Shalom

Rabbi Johanna’s NEW “office hours” for booking one-on-one appointments with Calendly link:

Sundays 1-4
Mondays 1-4
Wednesdays 2-4

Please remember you can always contact Rabbi Johanna (541-213-9880) or johannahershenson@gmail.com if you need to schedule an appointment at a time other than what is available via the Calendly link.

Click here to schedule a Zoom meeting.

Click here to schedule an in-person meeting at “Chemple” at FPC..