Igniting change in spiritual communities through interviews, visioning and dialogue, fearless conversations that lead to action.
Dr. Ron Wolfson:
“Engaging our members in a relational way, in a way that really connects people to each other.”
“This past March a new book came out. It’s called “Relational Judaism, The Power of Relationships to Transform.” We have a transactional model in our synagogue’s. We join to get something, bar mitzvah for kids, high holiday seats, a rabbi on call. I give you my dues, i give you those things. Second, lots of programs for young people, older people, family with kids, this group that group, different worship services to attract different people. It works to a degree. But when the young kid is bar mitzvah, so many of our people decide, “Transaction Over…. I’m out of here bye bye” because they don’t see any value in joining a synagogue. Didn’t find a group of friends, a community, a chevra of people, who want to be there for you in good and bad times in our lives, to be there for us through thick and thin. They don’t find it. We’re not engaging them with these programs, this programmatic, transactional model.
The big idea in book is we have to shift paradigm from programmatic and transactional to relational. Relational meaning, I have in this sacred community of our synagogue, a group of friends that care about me, a group of friends I can share my story with. Men’s clubs have pioneered this idea, in your fabulous program “Hearing Men’s Voices.” Now we have to do it for everybody in synagogue life. Begin the process of engaging in a relational way, in a way that really connects people to each other, and to the congregation in a fundamentally different relationship. That’s our challenge.”
“Words that come from my heart, enter your heart”
“I am not the world’s greatest singer. I am not the world’s greatest ukulele player. I play baritone ukulele in order to have something that sort of supports the song I’m singing. But stay in my presence, allow me to find the right song to sing to you right now because it’s just what you need. You will think I am the best singer ever.
It won’t matter to you if I hit a bum note because it’s not about that. It’s about I reached inside me to find what I thought might reach inside of you. That moment where words that come from my heart, enter your heart. What more could a person ask of a teacher, or a leader, or a friend?”
“And to have a gentle hand on your shoulder that says You’re one of us.”
“And I remember her coming up from behind and putting her hand on my shoulder, bending down and saying “You are one of the Silver girls from Newton.” And I looked up at her and said “I am “ and she said, “I met your sister.” And in that same instant, I started to cry. I started to well up and she saw it. Because it was really the first time anybody connected with me. I felt so out of it. And she has her hand on my shoulder and said, “Oh you can’t cry at Shabbat Services, not at this camp.” And I will never forget it. I will never forget that she took the time, she obviously caught something in me before I saw it in myself whatever it was she made a beeline for me at the beginning of services and got me to feel more comfortable about being there.
It’s something that I keep very close to me because it’s a story I’m always running into. I see people in places who feel equally out of it and not part of the frame, inside that frame. And I’m sure that the lesson I learned that day from Hadassah was, ‘pretty much everyone feels this way at one time or another.’ And to have a gentle hand on your shoulder that says “You’re one of us. You might not feel like one of this, you don’t belong here….and you do. And the reason you do belong here, is not because how I feel but just because you’re standing before me, because you’re a living breathing example of a human being. You’re here, you belong here. We’re all home. This is home. Home is behind your eyes, it’s in your heart. You’re home here. You’re home physically maybe somewhere else, but you can be home here.”