Monday and Tuesday of this week I was privileged to be in dialogue with a remarkable cohort of Jewish and Christian religious leaders reflecting together on the challenges of guiding faith-communities in our ever morphing culture. The gathering was hosted by Synagogue 3000.
The S3K site says: “Synagogue 3000 is a catalyst for excellence, empowering congregations and communities to create synagogues that are sacred and vital centers of Jewish life. We seek to make synagogues compelling moral and spiritual centers – sacred communities – for the twenty-first century . . . Sacred communities are those where relationships with God and with each other define everything the synagogue does; where ritual is engaging; where Torah suffuses all we do; where social justice is a moral imperative; and where membership is about welcoming and engaging both the committed and the unaffiliated. We wish to change the conversation about meaningful Jewish life in our time.”
Synagogue 3000 is the successor organization to Synagogue 2000 (S2K), and some of the key voices behind the creation and management of S3K are Ron Wolfson, Larry Hoffman, Shawn Landres, Ellen Dreskin, Merri Lovinger Arian, and Joshua Avedon.
In addition to the participants listed here below, many of the S3K board, finical supporters and members of the media were present.
Daniel Alter Denver, Julia Andelman New York, Andy Bachman Brooklyn, Sharon Brous Los Angeles, Menachem Cohen Chicago, Shir-Yaakov Feinstein-Feit New York, Lauren Grabelle Hermann West Philadelphia, Dov Gartenberg Seattle, J. Shawn Landres Los Angeles, Amichai Lau-Lavie New York, Margie Klein Boston, Shoshana Leis Riverdale, Jeremy Morrison Boston. Ryan Bolger Pasadena, Troy Bronsink Atlanta, Scott Collins Philadelphia, Tony Jones Minneapolis, Tim Keel Kansas City, Heather Kirk-Davidoff Columbia, Doug Pagitt Minneapolis, Nanette Sawyer Chicago, Dieter Zander San Rafael, and myself.
If I failed to mention someone or mislinked anyone, please post a corrective comment below.
Though there were so many beautiful moments – from times of prayer to lively-vision-expanding discussions – the moment that I find myself sitting with came from an exchange between the Rabbi of a mega-Synagogue and Tim Keel. A question regarding how Rabbis of successful, established Synagogues might come alongside and support these new expressions of faith was voiced. Tim responded by taking us to the story of Eli and Samuel. The text tells us that “in those days messages from the LORD were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.” Eli had not heard from God for a long time, and Samuel didn’t know what he was hearing or how to respond when he heard from God. But together they both heard. Eli coaching Samuel and Samuel sharing with Eli, and by working together the people of God were blessed.
I have come away with much to consider, and new voices and faces to shape my soul.
Here are a few links to stories that ran prior to the gathering: Religious News Service, The Christian Post and WNRF.