Divrei Tikvah

From Rabbi Johanna Hershenson

Between Passover and Shavuot, we count the days of the Omer. From the second day of Passover until the evening of Shavuot (when we receive the Torah at Sinai), we count. We recite a blessing counting the days of the Omer. Then we state “Today is the nth day of the Omer.”
The practice invites us to ask, what does it mean to count our days? What could it mean to recognize today as a follow up to yesterday and a precursor to tomorrow? For me, counting the Omer is a practice in mindfulness. This moment is important. This day has a name. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is far away. Right now matters.
In our congregational calendar, these days between Passover and Shavuot, are days of planning for our annual meeting in June and ultimately for our next fiscal year, which begins in July. A nomination committee has been assessing our leadership needs. Who will step away from our Temple Beth Tikvah board or committee leader roles and who might step in? What will be our goals for membership? For finance? For ritual and learning and community service? Religious school? Youth group?
One part of planning is evaluating successes and shortcomings from the past year. Another part of planning is assessing congregational needs and wishes and resources and priorities … and making choices that are manageable and will likely lead to feelings of connection and strength within the organization of our congregation.
Our scholar in residence program May 3rd and 4th is an opportunity to engage in a conversation about our next chapter of congregational development. Who are our stakeholders? What are our guiding principles and values? Where are we in our institutional development after 10 years? Should we focus on growing? Should we have our own building? What’s next for us? What might we learn about ourselves as we address these questions?
I believe we are a small, welcoming congregation eager to nurture one another and be Jewish together. For some of us being Jewish together is about prayer, for others about intellectual discourse, and still others, communal service. Being Jewish together is about the food we eat, the seasons we acknowledge, the words we speak, and living according to our values. How does Temple Beth Tikvah encourage our gatherings and what obstacles get in the way?
Where we are matters. Noticing our successes and and our challenges matters. Drawing on the wisdom of one another’s experiences matters.
Counting our days, counting our members, counting our blessings. . . Happy Omer Counting!

~~ Happy spring, friends … Remember, I am here if you have ideas or interests to discuss. Call or text 541-213-9880. Or email johannahershenson@gmail.com.