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April 04, 2003 - Image 65

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-04-04

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"It's been wonderful to see the different teams,"
Wengrow says. "Each is so unique. It reflects the
richness of our community."

Mission Of Improvement

Synagogue 2000 seeks to improve congregational
life in five areas, represented by the five letters in
the word Pisgah, the mountain where, according
to the Bible, Moses stood to view the Promised
According to the organization's mission state-
ment, these areas are:
• Prayer that is personal and participatory;
• Institutional culture that is open;
• Study that is continuous and deep and open to
all ages;
• Good deeds that repair the world;
• Ambience that warms and welcomes;
• Healing that makes the spirit whole.
The Detroit-area cohort officially began with a
curriculum called "Building a Sacred
Community," which combined the areas of insti-
tutional culture and ambiance. A bridge curricu-
lum focusing on the use of short-term study and
self-examination subcommittees known as "Jewish
Journey Groups" followed.
So far, this year's S2K curriculum centers on
adult and family education, with a major unit
coming up on improving congregational schools.
Some congregations, such as Temple Kol Ami in
West Bloomfield, have substituted the prayer cur-
riculum for one of the other courses of study. And,
at Bloomfield Township's Temple Beth El, the
entire S2K team changed this year when the edu-
cation curriculum began. Both are Reform tem-
In all congregations, team meetings follow a cer-
tain agenda, beginning with an opening ritual.
This is followed by a check-in, during which each
member has the opportunity to speak.
The facilitator begins discussion of an open-
ended question related to the area of study out-
lined in the S2K-supplied binders. Depending on
the wishes of the specific team, there is also text
study from the Bible or the sacred writings.
A closing ritual includes words from every team

Trying New Ideas

Many team members report specific changes in the
way their congregations operate because of their
involvement with S2K.
Ann Arbor's Beth Israel Congregation never had
a membership committee until S2K gave them an
outline, Abelson says.
The synagogue also has formed several Jewish
Journey Groups, including one on the challenges
of raising an interfaith family. Other groups study
Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers, a book of the
Mishnah); Abraham Joshua Heschel, an influential
20th-century writer on Jewish ethics and mysti-
cism; and the biblical Book of Ruth. Still another
grapples with the question: "What Do You Believe
In, Anyway?"
And, even though the three-year S2K program



Shelly Komer Jackier of Bloomfield Township leads Israeli folk dancing at Temple Israel's Super Oneg.

ends next fall, Abelson says her synagogue will
continue on its path of self-improvement. Along
with Congregation Beth El iri Windsor, Beth Israel
plans to tackle the S2K prayer curriculum.
"On one level, I view Synagogue 2000 as a sort
of Home Shopping Network," Appelman says,
"bringing all the congregational trends across the
country to our door, so each congregation can
pick and choose the ones that suit them the best."
To make the synagogue more. user-friendly,
Congregation Shir Tikvah's S2K team spearheaded
the formation of a membership committee, reno-
vated the lobby decor and instituted a series of
Oneg Shabbat experiences, bringing synagogue
members together for enjoyable or intellectually
stimulating activities after regular Shabbat services.
The Reform-Renewal synagogue also has formed
Jewish Journey groups to discuss spirituality, com-
munity building and how to Jewishly parent
young children.
At Shir Tikvah, the S2K program "enriches each
individual's experience so they develop a sense of
ownership," Wengrow says. "We no longer refer to
it as 'the temple' — it's our temple.'"

Welcoming New Traditions

Temple Israel, metro Detroit's largest Reform syna-
gogue with 3,300 member families, has instituted
a series of family-friendly Oneg Shabbat experi-
ences, which take place after S2K-inspired Friday
night services.
On March 21, about 800 people attended what
the temple calls a "Super, Oneg."
The event began after services with a reception
featuring traditional Shabbat pastries. This was
followed by three separate activities: singing in the
main sanctuary with cantorial soloist Neil

Michaels; Israeli folk dancing led by Temple Israel
member Shelly Komer Jackier; and a discussion of
the war in Iraq with business writer Doron Levin,
a synagogue member.
Congregation Shaarey Zedek holds monthly
Kabbalat Shabbat services, known as "Friday Night
Fever," at its Southfield building. Families gather
in the main sanctuary for a folk-style service led
by Shaarey Zedek Rabbi Jonathan Berkun and his
wife, Rabbi Lauren Berkun, who teaches adults in
Detroit and Chicago as a-rabbinic fellow for the
Jewish Theological Seminary oof America.
Rabbi Scott Bolton leads similar services, known
as Simcha Davening, once a month at the
Conservative synagogue's B'nai Israel Center in
West Bloomfield.
Shaarey Zedek also has created a greeters pro-
gram to welcome people as they enter the building
for Shabbat and holiday celebrations.
"Our team of rabbis is very forward-thinking
and very enthusiastic about everything we do,"
says Shaarey Zedek's S2K team facilitator Sally
Krugel of Bloomfield Township.
Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills has
a similar service, known as "Shabbat Rocks." The
Conservative synagogue also has adopted a new,.
S2K-inspired prayer book.
At Oak Park's Temple Emanu-El, the S2K team
is beginning a Jewish Journey Group to write a
new prayer book.
"We have been experimenting with different
types of prayer books, trying different ones on
Saturdays if we don't have a bar or bat mitzvah,"
says Emanu-El co-facilitator Nancy Evanson of
Bloomfield Hills.
Synagogue members meet after services to find


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