In the Torah, certain times are designated for rest and reflection. These are key elements in living life intentionally. Shabbat comes once every seven days; the sabbatical year, once every seven years; and the Jubilee, once every fifty years (the year after the seventh successive sabbatical year).

The first Shabbat morning tefilot – we weren’t yet B’Chavana – took place Dec. 18, 2010 in our family room as Susan and I invited a group of friends and acquaintances for something new. We sang, we learned and, of course, we ate. Something substantial “clicked” and we knew there was something special, even though only in potential. Susan and I hosted a monthly gathering for another two months at which point people offered to host: first, the Campbells, then Rachel and so on.

We had a full head of steam, then. By August, 2011, we incorporated as a congregation and hosted our first High Holiday services in September.


Which would have begun our sabbatical year in the fall of 2017. So . . . we’re a little late. But, as they say: better late than never.


About a year ago, the Va’ad decided that it was time to do that reflection. Over the years, there have been a couple of times when we’ve invited response through written/electronic surveys and/or community conversations. But it was time, we thought, to do it in a comprehensive way: to look back to our origins and use them as a lens through which to evaluate where we are, especially looking at the ways in which we’ve succeeded – and we have – and the ways in which we can best address the next few years.

I began by scheduling PeP meetings – Panim el Panim – with you. I met with many members and look forward to meeting still with everyone. I have asked a couple of questions and then mostly listened to you, as you’ve told me about what you value in B’Chavana, what you don’t like in B’Chavana, and what you might like to see new in B’Chavana. I have found these conversations gratifying and helpful, as you’ve been forthright with me and, in doing so, expressed a great degree of excitement and satisfaction with our community, what we give you and the way in which we do so.

In addition, we invited our newest member, Carl Derenfeld, to engage us in a structured process of reflection, something that Carl does professionally. We have benefited from his experience and insight already. He first met with a smaller team consisting of Renee, Leslie and me. We met in person a couple of times and shared documents back and forth several more times. Each time, Carl refined the document to reflect our comments until we arrived at a statement that was comprehensive. We then took that to the Va’ad and received its input. Carl then once again refined the work so that it was inclusive of everyone’s insights and concerns.


It’s my turn now. As I continue to meet and listen to you, I am reflecting on our origins and  accomplishments, strengths and challenges. And I’m excited about building on all of that and looking ahead to the next few years in the life of this unique and lively community.

My first task has been to share the information in this post with you, describing our process. In next week’s post, I’ll share with you the findings of the work done by the team and the Va’ad. Sometime later, I’ll share what I’ve gleaned from my PeP meetings; I would like to conduct more of those before drawing and sharing any conclusions.

Finally, I envision an asseyfah (community gathering) later this spring – at which time we’ll celebrate our history and successes, identify our challenges and how we’ll meet them, and I’ll share my vision for our communal future together.

As always, I’m eager to hear from you. So if you have thoughts that you would like for me to know please don’t hesitate. If we’ve already had our PeP meeting, or haven’t yet had it, there’s no reason not to email or call me. In that way, we’ll continue to build this community together.