I am writing this article having just attended the Sukkot day #2 service in the Pervin Chapel. The presence of congregants from New Light congregation should have seemed familiar, given that we have shared services with them in the past, but in my eyes today it was a different and satisfying experience.
I saw this service as a coming together of not only two congregations but of two communities. So much has happened during this year to keep both TOL*OLS and the Pittsburgh Jewish community moving forward. After hundreds of emails, the myriad of phone calls and the multitude of meetings it was easy to forget why we were doing all of this. Navigating among the JAA, Chatham, Dor Hadash, New Light and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, it was easy to lose our way. Throw in the distraction of a rabbinical search and transition, and you will agree that our ability to maintain focus was really put to the test.
It was only ten months ago that participants in our January congregational meeting confirmed our congregants’ desire to stay in the building and maintain our identity as TOL*OLS. And this morning I realized that this well-attended, enthusiastic service is the product of what leadership has been working at, so tirelessly, this entire year. Here we were together, two congregations seeking to find their ways forward during changing times, being led by our wonderful new spiritual leader Rabbi Myers and enjoying a thought-provoking sermon delivered by New Light Congregation’s Rabbi Perlman. What a difference ten months can make!
Next month we’ll further solidify the relationship between the two congregations when New Light moves into our building and makes the Sisterhood Room their new prayer space. Chatham’s offerings in the late fall and spring will only further add to the energy and vibrancy of the building’s atmosphere.
You can see that we have kept moving forward, stayed on track and didn’t lose focus, despite the many changes underway. “Nothing worth having comes easy,” but sometimes it’s nice to sit back at a prayer service and enjoy the fruits of one’s labor.