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A New Vision for Congregation Har HaShem

02/18/2019 11:45:32 AM


Greg Frost, President, HHS Board of Trustees

Congregation Har HaShem recently adopted a new Vision Statement. Our Vision is the culmination of a year-long process to craft a concise, powerful declaration of Who We Are as Boulder’s Reform Jewish community. I spoke a bit about the Vision during my remarks to the congregation on Kol Nidre. I’d like to share more about my personal connection to this guiding document for our synagogue.    

We create meaning in our lives through Jewish practice.

I’m a Federal scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and I experienced the recent government shutdown first hand. For five weeks I was not able to go to my office, engage with my brilliant colleagues, and carry out my life’s work of understanding and helping to solve environmental problems like air pollution and climate change. Service to our nation and to the world provides meaning and fulfillment to me and to so many others working in the government’s scientific agencies. For five weeks as a “non-essential” civil servant, I felt adrift and unnecessary.

One bright spot of my temporary lack of employment was that I became even more deeply involved at Har HaShem. The sacred work of the congregation’s Board of Trustees gave me purpose and provided structure to a potentially aimless few weeks. I was stimulated by the intellectual debates and cheered by the laughter at Torah study on Saturday mornings. I looked forward to Rabbi Greene’s teachings and Holli’s music at Friday night services. Discussions at a variety of synagogue meetings, spontaneous conversations with congregants arriving at services, and gatherings with my chavurah gave me hope. Har HaShem was a source of strength and meaning to me during the disorientation of the shutdown.

We celebrate together and lift each other when we have fallen.

The Har HaShem community was very supportive during the shutdown. Rabbi Greene sent out a congregational statement demonstrating deep understanding and empathy, highlighting resources available to help furloughed Federal workers to weather this difficult time. I received numerous messages from congregants asking how I was doing and if I needed help in any way. What could have been a lonely and demoralizing situation was instead an opportunity for me to experience our synagogue community’s incredible generosity and caring. I’m blessed to be part of this wonderful congregation. You have my sincere thanks for your kindness.

I now look forward to celebrating a wonderful simcha with my Har HaShem community. On the morning of March 2nd, fourteen adults, including several good friends, will be acknowledged for becoming b’nai mitzvah. They will lead services and be called up to the bimah to chant from our lovingly written Torah scroll. Thinking about their special day brings back so many memories of my own bar mitzvah service a decade ago. I was part of a cohort of a half dozen adults who studied together for more than a year, developing deep friendships in the process. Chanting Torah that day was one of the transformative experiences of my life. I know I’ll be emotional when I congratulate my friends as the Board representative at their service.

We are inspired to realize our human potential.

Serving as President of this congregation is an honor. It’s also a challenge that has helped me grow as a person. By serving Har HaShem, I stretch my abilities to become a better leader. I have acquired as much leadership development experience in my time on the Board of Har HaShem as I have in my entire professional life. Whether working on issues around budgets, personnel, or infrastructure, or negotiating a sensitive discussion between passionate advocates on different sides of an issue, I am learning profound lessons.

There are so many ways to grow at Har HaShem, through spiritual practice, learning, social action, and engaging with the community. Service to the synagogue is one of the ways that speaks particularly deeply to me. If service at Har HaShem also resonates with you, I urge you to raise your hand and give it a try. There is a tremendous feeling of satisfaction in helping our synagogue become a place where every congregant can realize their own potential.

We work to make the world more just.

I had the pleasure of participating in Har HaShem’s recent Mitzvah Day. Representatives of some Boulder County non-profit agencies talked about their work caring for those in need, and their stories were incredibly moving. Congregants then fanned out across the county on a variety of projects providing much needed help to these nonprofit agencies. I joined a wonderful volunteer team that deep-cleaned a facility operated by Mental Health Partners (MHP). The work was fun, the 2 hours passed quickly, and our efforts saved MHP’s staff both time and money. I also got to know several congregants much better during our conversations that afternoon. I am proud of Har HaShem for providing opportunities for our members to take actions that make the world a better place.

Guided by our new Vision, Har HaShem has begun a year-long effort to deepen our members’ engagement in the life of the congregation. Our Board and staff are asking a profound question of our congregants: How can Har HaShem help you to create meaning in your life? You’ll be hearing and seeing more about this work throughout the rest of the year. I believe that what we learn from this effort, combined with our Vision, will help guide us in our next 50 years as Boulder’s Reform Jewish synagogue. Please join us as we embark on this adventure.

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