In this week’s eblast, Rabbi Shawna wrote about stepping up to the plate in the light of developing a sense of community, and how the Men of TAS provide a valuable example of the process. My reflection is based on this thought.
Before I joined TAS 12 years ago, I was a member of a congregation that had just about everything I wanted: a vibrant, empathic, and involved Rabbi, a spiritual presence combining old traditions with a modern environment, and services that were truly inclusive, which in theater terms, meant no “fourth wall.” In short, it was a delight to be there. But over the many years I was part of the group, I found myself becoming a little alienated because I lost a sense of a “community.” I was not included in the management of the group, and therefore not part of the “in crowd.”
So, enter TAS. I was immediately drawn to the ”Men’s Club.” The guys were friendly, and gave me the space to participate in activities I enjoyed, and not being forced or guilted into ones that were not my cup of tea. For some reason I don’t completely understand, raising my hand at a meeting made me a chair of some committee or other, and eventually into leadership in the group. Later, as president, I was fortunate to be able to introduce a couple of changes, including transforming our “Men’s club” into a community of openness and inclusivity, rather than be a group you had to pay to join. It was, and is, my belief that being part of a community is what helps makes us human beings, whole, and this part of relationship building has been vastly improved by my successors, Dan Faigin and Frank Soronow.
A few years ago, the TAS Board did an interactive process, attempting to determine the one crucial element that defines Judaism. What could we live without, and still be Jewish? Surprising things were eliminated: a physical temple, a Rabbi, the Torah, and even God. The one thing remaining was “community.” Without it, there is no Judaism. We in MoTAS are here to continue to build upon what we have before, and help make it grow for the better. That is my MoTAS; that is my community.