This time of year is filled with endings and new beginnings. Recently, we said goodbye to a year just passed as we reflected on 5776. The new Jewish New Year of 5777 arrived and we wished each other well at services with joyous greetings of L’Shanah Tovah! Simchat Torah, a holiday marking the completion of the annual cycle of weekly Torah readings, just took place too. The last Torah portion is read, and then the first chapter of Genesis, reminding us that the Torah is a circle, and never ends. It is a time of celebration and rejoicing and a time to be grateful for the precious gift of the Torah and all of our blessings.
In a world where life is often fast paced, we often have to force ourselves to slow down and appreciate the here and now. There is beauty in so many things…the laughter of children, a kindness from a stranger unexpected, conversation with a dear friend, the scenic display of leaves changing in the fall, the cherished, precious memories of those no longer with us. Even if we live to old age, we know that life is still fleeting, and there is meaning and thankfulness to be acknowledged daily.
From services initially held in rented halls, our synagogue has grown over the years with a building and added additions and also in membership. We currently comprise about 114 households, with many of those having multiple family members. As a visiting USCJ representative noted this past summer, for a congregation classified as a “smaller shul”, we accomplish big things each month with a full calendar of events. As Thanksgiving approaches, we give thanks at CSI for what makes our spiritual home special. A congregation that welcomes new folks yet still has that southern “down home feeling” where basically everyone still knows who everyone is. Additionally, are grateful for a successful Religious School to educate our youth, the retention of a rabbi with a high calibre of Torah and Jewish learning, and the blessing of so many individuals throughout each year giving both financial support and active involvement so that we keep moving forward in a positive way. There are many other items I could list, but will confine my remarks to a page as usual, as this November bulletin is an especially information packed issue! (And it’s also a wise thing not to stress out one’s editor who manages somehow to squeeze in what is needed each month – awesome job Deborah!)
An enriching experience just concluded this weekend with our Scholar-In-Residence, Dr. Richard Friedman. His knowledgable academic commentary was punctuated with just the perfect amount of humor. I hope as this new Jewish Year progresses that all of you find moments to smile and laugh about too!
Finally, don’t forget our CSI Book Fair this month and have a Happy Thanksgiving!