Chazak, Chazak, V’nitchazek
June 13, 2019
68 years ago, a pioneering group of families came together to found Temple Beth El of Northern Valley. They envisioned a Reform Jewish congregation that would be a place for learning and living, promoting a vibrant Jewish life in northern Bergen County. And they worked diligently to create a community of meaning and connection.
We today are the heirs of that pioneering group, entrusted not merely to preserve their legacy, but to nurture their vision. When faced with demographic, sociological, and generational changes, we responded. Four years ago, I suggested bringing Rabbi David Wolfman to our community to help us create a process of discernment for our future. Guided by our lay leadership, we engaged 250 different voices in an exploration of how we reshape congregational life to respond to these changes and still continue to be that center of Reform Jewish living and learning that our founders envisioned. We charted a path forward and, two years later, were joined in that journey by our partners at Temple Beth Or, who wanted to forge a future together. And now the time has come to take the next step, as Temple Beth El and Temple Beth Or merge into a new entity, Kol Dorot: A Reform Jewish Community.
In the cycle of reading Torah, when one book is completed and the next is about to begin, the community calls out, “Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,” “We are strong, we are strong, and we will strengthen one another.” As we turn from one chapter of our congregational life to the next, this phrase holds a double meaning. We are a strong community from our history as Temple Beth El and will grow stronger still in our next iteration. And, in adding our strength to the strengths of Temple Beth Or, we will strengthen one another in this new community.
I hope you will join your Temple Beth El family for a truly memorable Shabbat this weekend. Tomorrow night’s evening service begins at 7pm and features opportunities to celebrate the vast legacy and rich heritage of our community. The Saturday morning service begins at 9am and culminates with the marching of our Torah scrolls 7 miles to their new home in the Kol Dorot community. (Details for all of these milestones are below and on our website.)
One chapter of our community’s life is coming to a close. Another chapter is about to begin. We remain committed to the same ideals as our founding families as we take these next steps together. Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek, may we always strengthen one another.