Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,
I hope that this note finds y’all well! I have sweet news to share with you. We at CBI have an opportunity to be at the cutting edge of understanding how Judaism functions at the beginning of the 21st century.
Some of you may recall that I was chosen as a Rabbis Without Borders fellow last year. Rabbis Without Borders is a program of Clal (the Center for Learning and Leadership — the Hebrew word clal means “inclusive”), and the fellowship experience gave me all kinds of tools and ideas to bring back to my service of CBI.
Because of my participation in Clal’s Rabbis Without Borders, our congregation has been invited to participate in the first ever national study of the impact of the High Holiday experience on the strengths and virtues central to human flourishing. In other words, do you get something out of the High Holidays? Does some aspect of the experience of coming to shul during the Days of Awe help you in your life? No one has ever asked these questions before. Our answers could shape the Jewish future.
Here at CBI, we’re already hard at work planning the experiences we’ll open up to you during those special days. We want your high holiday journey to be meaningful and sweet. We hope that our services will uplift your spirits, connect you with each other and with God, and launch you into a new Jewish year filled with renewed desire to be your best self. This mirrors what Rabbis Without Borders aims to create nationally, a Judaism which helps us flourish as human beings.
How will the CBI community participate in this research? Those who choose to do so will be invited to fill out a survey both before and after the high holidays to measure how we are affected by the holidays. The survey will be anonymous. If you are interested in participating please let me know (email rabbibarenblat at gmail dot com, or call the office and leave your name with Jack.)
The information we gather will be a novel contribution to the fields of positive and social psychology, and will benefit the Jewish world as a whole. Beyond that, in filling out the survey, we ourselves will learn more about how the High Holidays work for us to increase our capacity for gratitude, optimism and belonging.
Please let me know if you have any questions about this process. I look forward to sharing more about it with you in the months ahead.
Blessings to all,