In about a month from now, Beth Sholom will start moving into its new building, and our community will have a home again after being Bamidbar--in the wilderness--for almost two years. The time away has been difficult and had a negative impact on many of our practices and traditions, not least of which was the negative effect it had on our Shabbat gatherings.
Most of the time we've been without our own building our congregation was split between two services for Shabbat--one at another congregation across town and one in our school building for those who do not drive on Shabbat. Since January we've been holding Shabbat services at St. James Church, which has allowed us to come together once again as prepare to return to our new home. We get to feel that community spirit again, to be back with our Beth Sholom traditions while trying out some new ways of experiencing prayers.
Yesterday was a Shabbat that brought me that feeling of shalom, of fullness, that has been missing from much of my time Bamidbar. It wasn't any special Shabbat--it was just the specialness that is Shabbat. We sang together and prayed together and learned together. There were elders and youngsters and expectant parents. A mom and her daughter opened the ark; a dad and his son shared a birthday aliyah. Babies were sharing their own version of davening, and a little boy couldn't wait to lead Adon Olam. At kiddish, a young couple spent time talking with a 90 year old matriarch, sharing stories about living in Brooklyn, New York.
And I got to take it all in and let it fill me up. I spent no time worrying about anything. The service flowed as it needed to flow--any burps were just integrated into the stream. The spirit in the room was one of joy; the feeling of community palpable.
We are in the month of Nissan--in the Torah, the first month of the year. It is in this month, in this new year, that we start to move into our new makom, our new space. It is good to see, hear, and know that while it's great that we have a literally awesome, new physical place, it is the community spirit we are rebuilding that will sustain us.