Last month our water heater broke. We asked around for a plumber and found one. He arrived the next day, put in a new heater and we were back up and running soon enough. We paid him and were satisfied with the job that we hired him to do. It is a similar situation with a roofer, an electrician, a midwife. They have one job, they do it, they get paid. There is direct satisfaction.
The situation is more complicated when it comes to religion. People pay to be part of religious institutions So what job are those groups being paid to do? The answer comes from Rabbi Irwin Kula at the National Jewish Center for Learning & Leadership. He suggests that we hire religion to do the following seven things:
1. Connection: we want to be in a relationship with other humans. 2. Personal growth: we want to develop our mind, body and soul. 3. Social transformation: making the world a better place. 4. Meaning: finding our purpose in life. 5. Common Space: carving out a place where strangers become friends. 6. Creativity: increasing our curiosity and imagination. 7. Accountability: holding ourselves and others responsible for being ethical.
Now you might not agree with all of these, but religion has to do some of them otherwise it is not doing the job it was hired for. We do not just become members of shuls so that the shul exists for its own sake, to keep the doors open and the lights on, but for something greater and grander.
So, we look forward to seeing you at Temple Sinai in this busy month ahead, not just for the sake of it, but so we can connect, grow and find meaning.
L’shana tova u’metuka!
Have a good and sweet year!
Rabbi Malcolm Cohen, Sarah Stewart, Elijah & Rachel