It’s hard to believe it’s already December, and in several weeks, we will welcome in a New Year, 2018! The word “welcome” inspires me! Welcoming guests, hachnasat orchim, seems to come naturally and effortlessly to our members. Hospitality is a powerful way to model kindness. When we open our spiritual home to others, with full inclusion, it is a way for us to share with one another the uniqueness of who we are and the blessings we have. Hachnasat orchim is an important and necessary Jewish value, it is also a mitzvah, a commandment within Judaism.
Each Friday night at Shabbat services, I am blessed to welcome new people into our community, whether they are family members coming to celebrate with a B’nei Mitzvah family, members of the larger community looking to find their spiritual home, speakers or scholars invited to Solel to learn with us, or congregants, whom I have never had the pleasure to meet or to talk with previously. Week after week, people seek me out to share details of the warm welcome and meaningful experiences they have at Solel, and how comfortable they feel worshiping along with us in our home. Fifteen years ago, when Jeff and I were searching for a synagogue and a community to connect with, we were welcomed at Solel with warmth, kindness and love; it was obvious we had found our spiritual home.
Similar to Rosh Hashanah, we naturally begin to reflect on the year past and the coming year. T’shuvah is a natural process, we continually strive to be better people and rid old habits. As I reflect on the year of 2017 at Solel, I can’t help but smile and feel happy. We have accomplished so much! We have welcomed over 20 new member families to our community, our children at Lev Solel, under the direction of Ashley Plotnick, Director of Congregational Learning, are educated with love and develop a deep love for Judaism, our Rabbi and Cantor pray and lead with intention, the chapel is filled week after week on Shabbat with wonderful ruach. Our congregants have proven time and again, how important it is to perform acts of kindness to perfect or repair the world and why we need to continue this sacred work. Our choir gives their time each week to rehearse with Cantor O’Brien, so our worship is enriched with their beautiful voices, and Russel Stern, our music director is a brilliant musician who touches our souls with his music.
Last week, I was blessed to be with family celebrating the American Holiday of Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for all of you, your ongoing support, your friendship, our professional staff, our clergy, and the prospect and greatness that will come to us in 2018. I want to give a heartfelt “thank you” to everyone who has already contributed to our annual congregational appeal. Your gift to our beloved Solel is so greatly appreciated, and allows us to reach new heights and fulfill our dreams and expectations in 2018. Your contribution, no matter how small, gives us funds to use today, to enrich our lives and have richer experiences. Your gift translates into strengthening your congregation.