Summer is typically a slow time in synagogue life due to the lull in in the cycle of Jewish holidays and vacation and travel plans. We mark the end of spring and the advent of summer with a Shavuot program and our religious school’s festive graduation celebration. Here at the shul, we are happy for the presence of in-town congregants to maintain our Friday night and Shabbat services and our daily morning minyan. We also enter the planning phase of the High Holiday season, which only seems far away now.
This year is much different, however. The above still hold true, but this time around leadership is busier than ever, planning for our future.
At this writing we have completed our three rabbinical candidate weekends and attendance has been terrific at these events. Those of us in leadership are gratified to see how many people are eager to participate in the selection of our new Rabbi. At all events in the busy rabbinical weekends—Friday evening services and dinner, Shabbat services and lunch-and-learn, and Sunday morning services and breakfast—our community members were warm and welcoming to the candidates and to one another. The spirit of wanting to move forward together, which you first exhibited at our January congregational meeting, was confirmed by the high turnout at these rabbinical candidate weekends and the many emails and calls we received in which individuals shared their thoughtful impressions of the candidates. Please know that leadership is working hard to take your views into account and make the decisions that will make your desire for a renewed and reinvigorated TOL*OLS a reality.
Even as we conduct our rabbinical search, we are also deep into the planning stages of a “metropolitan” synagogue model, based here at TOL*OLS. Discussions with New Light Congregation have progressed from the exploratory phase to more detailed negotiations mapping out their move into our building and contributing to the community we have built here with Congregation Dor Hadash. The synergy that would result from having three shuls under one roof has tremendous possibilities for the members of these congregations and for the Squirrel Hill Jewish community as a whole. If you have friends at these congregations, please tell the New Light folks how eager we are to make them feel welcome, and let the Dor Hadash people know how much we value their presence among us.
Lastly, we continue to communicate with our neighbor across Wilkins Avenue, Chatham University, about ways to make the best use of our building during the weekdays, when it is not in use. While the metropolitan model will have the building bustling on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, Chatham would like to use our facility during the week for things like their own Osher classes, early childhood development programs, and culinary classes. Talks with Chatham are in the preliminary stages, but we are encouraged by their interest in our space and the energy that will be created by all of the young people within our building.
As you can see, this summer will be different than that of year’s past. A Rabbi search, a metropolitan synagogue model, and possibly a University within our walls is a recipe for an exciting and transformational change for TOL*OLS….and an unusually busy summer!
Enjoy your travels away; come see us when you are in town; and look forward to our beginning a bright new chapter in TOL*OLS when we gather for the new year in the fall.