When my wife Karen and I were new to California, we did the “shul shopping” thing and I had pretty much given up when she convinced me to go to one more. When we drove up to an elementary school in Calabasas, I turned to her and gave her my “what the…” look, to which she said, “Come on, you’ve heard the Cantor and liked his music. Give it a try.” I said, not so quietly, to myself, “In an elementary school utility room?”
When I came through the door and was greeted so warmly and welcomed by people I’d never met before; it felt good. When the congregants learned we were looking for a new spiritual home, they shared their love of Or Ami with us. They noted that our first Shabbat there was their new Rabbi’s first there, too.
And then the music started. At 7:30 PM precisely! And I did recognize it, and I did enjoy it, and our search ended.
Tonight, since temporarily moving out of our sanctuary while it is remodeled, we have the chance to roll back the clock in a way, and all join together for Shabbat services at Bay Laurel Elementary School! As we wander about during the remodeling, we have an opportunity to gather together like we did 12 years ago — remember Carly (then a young child) wandering around and sitting with any one of us she chose, climbing up on the chair next to you or into your lap while Cantor Doug sang?
We have the opportunity to share that special sense of being at home with family for Shabbat, even though it was an elementary school utility room with fold up chairs and the Torah on a card table. Come join us, bring your friends, bring our “newer” congregants with you, and share that wonderful feeling we had as we celebrated Shabbat together in our once-a-week home, strangers and friends and families all together as one.
Oh, by the way, there will be a really interesting guest speaker at the Adult Study service as well: Rabbi Denise L. Eger of Congregation Kol Ami (West Hollywood) will discuss “Civil Rights in Our Time: Marriage Equality and Why It is a Jewish Issue.”
I hope to see you tomorrow night at Bay Laurel, 6:30 PM for a wine and cheese reception, and services at 7:30 PM. Feel free to share this with anyone you think would want to join us (or those who may have missed those “pioneering days” at Bay Laurel).