One of my main goals for this year is to work more closely with our teens as we work to create our New Hebrew High School Program - #SULAM. I know from personal experience how critical the teen years are to someone's Jewish development and I want to do all that I can to help our teens continue to feel connected to TJC. As I shared a bit of my story on Rosh Hashanah, soon after my Bar Mitzvah, began to ask more challenging Jewish questions and began to consider my future in the Jewish professional world and I am eternally grateful that I had a number of role models, teachers and advisors to help me stay on the proper path. One of those key people to me was our congregational Rabbi who spent a great deal of time with me. This was also the time that I broadened my Jewish social circles where I found support and many other teens similar to me outside of my local community.
As we continued to focus time and attention to our teens here at TJC, we too have created more opportunities for them to connect with Jewish teens in the greater Jewish community through programs like Jewish Community Youth Foundation, Gesher LaKesher and a new program created by AJC called LYFT which helps teens learn when to speak up and speak out in regard to Israel advocacy. As I mentioned in previous messages, we also have dedicated a great deal of time to revamp our Hebrew High School program by bringing in new educators, making the time together more interactive and helping our teens focus on critical issues in their lives both now and in the next few years.
One of the special new additions to our #SULAM program will take place this weekend as we go away on a special retreat - yes I did say we because I am looking forward to participating with the group. Later today, Sharon Diamondstein and I will take our teens away for the weekend to Camp Galil in Ottsville PA. We are also bringing an outstanding Jewish educator, Eliana Light to lead many of the programs, services and informal activities. The plan is to spend Shabbat together in an informal setting so that we can talk together about issues happening in our world today as connect to some of the themes of this special holiday season. In addition to meals together and discussion groups and some exploring of the beautiful surroundings, I am hoping to just spend time with the teens so that we can see each other outside of the synagogue.
Whatever you do this weekend, I hope it will be productive. This Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a unique time to focus on the themes of these holidays as we continue our process of Teshuva leading into Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur. I know that Cantor Warschauer will lead everyone in a beautiful service on Shabbat while I am away including both Friday night and Shabbat Morning. He and I will compare Shabbat stories when I return on Sunday.
I am looking forward to the time away with our teens and the opportunities we will have to learn together, sing together and explore new things together. Two of the things I am hoping for the most is that we have good weather and that the students feel comfortable asking challenging questions so that we can respond with support and guidance and help each of them move forward on their Jewish journey.
I look forward to seeing you when I am back at TJC on Tuesday night and Wednesday.
Rabbi Adam Feldman