> The Sense of Community

The Beth Am Sense of Community

One member's view . . .

Most people, one supposes, join a congregation for the fellowship of other people. We want human contact. We want to rejoice with those who are happy and mourn with those who are sad. As we are commanded, we visit the sick. We want to worship in the company of others.

We hope that this is true of every congregation, but for us Beth Am is special. Services when a baby is named are among the best attended, and people dance with joy. At a Bar or Bat Mitzvah we delight in the maturity of our young adults and rejoice to see the parents bursting with pride. When somebody is sick, there is an active effort to make sure that others know about it and visit the sick person when possible. When death comes, we comfort the family at the funeral, at the cemetery, and at the shiva minyans. At a funeral we show our respect for the departed, comfort the bereaved, and implicitly promise each other that when our own time comes we will also be treated with respect.

Of course we fight like any family, too. A remarkably large number of Beth Am members participate in leadership, committees, liturgy, music, education, and all the other activities of a dynamic, involved synagogue. People who care deeply about issues will sometimes disagree. But through it all there is a sense of common purpose, a determination that the differences will be settled because we all have the good of the organization and of our friends at heart.

Perhaps I may be permitted a personal note. In 1999 I was hospitalized for three-plus weeks for routine surgery that developed complications. During that time I was visited almost every day by one or more Beth Am members, including a couple of people I hardly knew at the time. I found this immensely moving. It was then that I realized I had found a community. I am now a member of Beth Am, although I am not yet a Jew.

We have different backgrounds, different needs, different gifts. The sharing that grows out of this diversity makes Beth Am a very special place.

                                                                          Dan McCracken

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