We like to think of a synagogue as a place where tradition can be found. We know that Judaism is a faith that traces its roots back 3000 years. When we come to synagogue we are prepared to learn about Torah and Talmud, about ancient rabbis and medieval texts. One does not associate the synagogue with modern technology, social media or YouTube.
But why not? Modern technology can be the means to bringing Judaism to a new generation. Jewish books on a Kindle? Discussions about faith on Facebook? Torah Tidbits on Twitter? Jewish art on Instagram? Israel in a RSS feed? Not only is this a good way to reach a new generation of Jews, it is a good way to reach every generation. After all, you are reading this on our synagogue web site!
There are some things that are best done the old fashioned way. To pray as a Jew means to gather with a minyan, at least ten adult Jews, so that we can support each other as we reach out to God. Weddings and celebrations can be online events, but they are warmer, happier and better when we celebrate together. It is comforting to send an email of condolence but it is still better to visit a home where a family is sitting Shiva and offer them a hug – in person.
We Jews have a history of making what is new, a tradition and making a tradition something holy. We are not afraid to change the way we sing, the words we pray or the way we teach; even as we acknowledge that tradition is what has gotten us where we are. We are a people on a journey from our past to our future, carrying our tradition and gathering new ideas along the way. This is the journey of the Jewish People, this is our journey. Comfortable tradition, with a contemporary approach.
A friend once told me that there is a reason a car has a large windshield and a small rear-view mirror. We are supposed to spend more time looking ahead than looking back. We need to know from where we came but we also need to know where we are going. Our values, ethics and teachings are eternal; the way we teach, share and grow together can benefit from the latest technology.
The Old and the New together – That is what Temple Beth El is about.
We invite you to join us on our journey.