Preparing for Another New Year
“A Season for Remembrance”
“Yom Hazikaron”- a day of remembrance- is a name for Rosh Hashanah. Traditionally , it is to G-d to whom we wish to be remembered for life and health in the coming year . It is at this season also that many kehillot , communities, advertise their offerings for memberships and subscriptions in an effort to attract much needed support. We all do this, as many seekers and newcomers want to belong to something holier than a social club. So we beckon their attention, offer programs and services, worship and community. At season’s end, it seems we all return to the mundane, hoping we have been worthy of the confidence people have entrusted to us-at least for the year ahead. And then it begins again. What did we remember?
CISA was formed in 2006, when certain tensions in the community beckoned an alternative ; CISA celebrated its 12th year in 2018. Our small community has striven to provide meaningful worship without child-like gimmickry elegant and participatory adult worship, thoughtful and intellectual study of text,-enhanced with the beauty of holiness in its music. A traditional style of the established authentic conservative movement. We have been successful often, and we have been shown ways to improve. We remember, too, that our purpose was not to be large; our goal was to be excellent, an intimate footprint in San Antonio. We have witnessed all that the life-cycle presents over these past 12 years. We have seen souls come and go for reasons of their own, and accepted indifference and criticisms from others. In a small family, little warts loom large and successes are sometimes noticed, and maybe even duplicated by others. At bottom, CISA, while organized, is not corporate in feeling, nor “family” as schule’s often propose. It is “the friendly schule” as described by some who have engaged with us. What do we remember?
As 5779 approaches, the questions are asked again, “what are our dues?”; “where are we meeting?”;” is there a fee?” Legitimate all, and answered simply that CISA provides that which its kehillah will support, financially, completely, without debt to the whole, and with rachmones for those who legitimately need assistance. I encourage all to review our Membership page, beautifully presented by our webmaster. I remember a time when challenged by a prospective member as to why any contribution was necessary since “religion is free.” I asked the individual if he studied Torah and was mindful of this question. He nodded, yes. Then, I suggested he review the reading for the festivals closely. In it he would read that we are admonished in the text, not to appear empty handed before Hashem. As our late benefactor once remarked, “between G-d and humans, there is always an economic connection.” As Kemach (money) is the lifeblood of every human endeavor, why would schule not be one of those worthy of sustenance? CISA wishes all a good year. May it conclude with higher resolve and good living.
And G-d remembers.
Rice University professor and San Antonio native, Dr. Joshua Furman, will return to the JCC for a presentation about his new work creating an archive of Houston and South Texas Jewish History.
The JCC is welcoming Dr. Joshua Furman this Sunday for a lecture series about his new work creating an archive of Houston and South Texas Jewish History. He will also address what steps we as a community can take to ensure San Antonio’s Jewish history will be preserved for generations to come.
Tickets are $10 each, but CISA members can get 50% off admission. To receive this, visit this link and enter the code FurmanCI. The code may also be used on purchases made in person at the JCC or over the phone at 210-302-6820.
The event is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 5 at 4pm at the JCC.
I was intrigued. I have seen it advertised for years. Ta’am Ha’Ona, the teaser for the Passover Seder created by our JCC advertises “food, fun, and no fuss.” True that, there is no fuss when others prepare the Seder feast; all one need do is sit and enjoy. Could it be fun, too, I asked myself?
For over 45 years, I have conducted congregational Sedarim with my rabbinic colleagues in our synagogues. In them, the assembled all looked like my congregants. True that. They were! They were assembled at Hogwarts like rows of tables reminiscent of a military dining hall, crammed shoulder to shoulder, 400 or 500 of them on the Second evening. The rituals and feast were fine enough, but fun was not necessarily a word I would choose.
Seder night is joyous, but with a tinge of solemnity - we reenact in a 4-act talk-feast, the trek from enslavement to freedom and responsibility. Enslavement of the soul and mind, perhaps the body, to the acceptance of mitzvot and responsibilities as Jews at Sinai. “Fun” is not a word I would choose, until last Friday evening, March 30.
Lauren Ross, Betsy Cowan, and Maya Siler asked me to “officiate,” strike that, lead the JCC Seder for the first night. An artfully prepared Hagaddah of the highlights of the story fulfilled the legal and ritual requirements. We sat family-style at round tables decorated in festive fashion. Nearly 200 of us. Veteran culinary artist Irene Ramirez and her staffers led the kosher kitchen. The Kedem grape juice and Concord wine flowed. The fish was gefilte, our matza flat and dry. Our matza balls melted in the mouth.
We sang, laughed, and shared some personal stories, as families do at home. Colonel Hannah Margolis shared the history of making Matza with cowboy spurs in San Antonio-who knew!? An affable Israeli Gentleman, we call him Mr. Page 19 (since he wanted to get to the dinner portion quickly on page 19) came forward and sang a better melody than one I chose-and louder, too. Then he left a kosher cabernet at my table that may have trumped the Concord grape wine. Young in their holiday best, with parents and grandparents, followed with eagle eye to spy out the afikoman. Conversation and movement were free flowing, like a large family. It felt like one to me.
Yes, I recognized current and past congregants. However, on this night, what was different from all other nights was that they were all familiar to me and new to me at the same moment. This large tent at the JCC was warmly inclusive and non-denominational. Here assembled a family of Jews and guests, a mix of souls, retelling an ancient journey, recreating a true sense of freedom through poetry, food, song…and fun! See you at Sinai.
March 30, 2018 6:00 PM
Conducted by Hazzan David Silverstein
Congregation Israel of San Antonio
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