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April 04, 2003 - Image 91

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

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it and discovered ways to bring that pent-up
desire to fruition."

A Good Night's Study

Lessons Learned

Shir Shalom's S2K team combines
self-examination with learning.

There's no question that members of the S2K
teams have benefited greatly from the experi-
ence, Appelman says. The challenge, she says, is
spreading their fervor for renewal to the rest of
the synagogue community.
"We should have thought about the end of
S2K at the beginning," she says. "In Westchester
County [N.Y.], they started from the very begin-
ning discussing how they would involve the
whole synagogue. Here, we allowed people to
become immersed without pushing them to
think about the big picture."
The changes at Congregation B'nai Moshe in
West Bloomfield have been "subtle," says Dennis
Blender, co-facilitator of the Conservative syna-
gogue's S2K team.
Following the pattern set.by the team meet-
ings, "we changed the format of the board meet-
ings to give everyone input before beginning the
regular agenda. We also set up an architectural
committee to work on the synagogue's ambiance.
"But, if you ask the average B'nai Moshe
member, they wouldn't necessarily think of
Synagogue 2000," he says.
At Temple Emanu-El, the S2K committee
doesn't put its name on everything it does. "If
you don't come to services, you don't see the
changes," says co-facilitator Evanson.
For the next conference of the Detroit cohort, to
take place June 1, team members- have been asked
to bring others from their congregation who are
interested in working to carry out the movement's
ideals of institutional and personal improvement.
"People come back from the conferences so
enthusiastic," Dr. Wolfson says. "But sometimes,
it's hard to communicate this enthusiasm. It's
like showing your slides of Europe — it's not the
same thing as being there."
For this next conference, Appelman has asked
team members to identify areas in which she and
her staff could continue to help. "Not by supply-
ing funds," she adds, "but by things like feeding
them curriculum, training facilitators for Jewish
Journey Groups; materials for family education."
As the synagogue renewal program progressed,
some S2K teams made requests that could not be
filled because of limited time or personnel, she says.
Among the requests were consultants to shadow
specific congregations or to do strategic planning.
Appelman says she feels "a little unsettled that
we couldn't answer every request."
Shir Tikvah's Wengrow cautions that
Synagogue 2000 is not meant to force syna-
gogues to create activities.
"We were doing a lot of different things before
S2K," he says. "So why did we need it?"
Wengrow's answer captures a vital element of
the S2K philosophy: "It's not meant for different
projects, but to enhance the experience," he says.
"Actually, we do more things when we spend
time studying than when we stopped studying to
find time to do things." ❑

decided to add study again."
Tonight, the text is from Exodus,
chapters 35-37. The Israelites have
fled from slavery in the land of
Egypt and are building a temporary
sanctuary in the wilderness. The
text states that everyone brou ght
of relationships," says Oram,
gifts for the sanctuary; "there was
who lives in West Bloomfield.
enough." Later, however, the text
Staff'Writer/Copy Editor
"This is the most recent — and
reveals "there was extra." Rabbi
one of the most satisfying."
ouise Oram came back
Moskowitz discusses different schol-
Joe Firestone of Beverly Hills
from Florida a day early.
arly explanations for the evident dis-
says his journey with the S2K
It was still mid-
crepancy, from Maimonides to
February, and plenty of team gave him "a little more utz"
the Chassidic. Maybe, he says,
(push) when he filled in as soloist the different sentences come from
winter was left in southeast
Michigan. But Oram's Synagogue at Shabbat services during
the combining of two stories.
Steyer's vacation.
2000 team had a meeting sched-
The rabbi personally connects
"I think of my life as a Jewish
uled for Tuesday night, so she
the extra gifts with the unending
journey," says Ron Ogusky of
nature of knowledge: "The more
caught an early flight.
"I knew it would warm my heart Bloomfield Hills. "As a child, I
we know and understand, the
found Judaism very sterile and
to be here," she says, "because the
more we need to connect. The
boring. There have been a lot of
extra will always be there."
rest of me is freezing cold."
twists and turns — I never know
West Bloomfield's Temple Shir
The team moves from Torah
where it will go."
study to the subject of form-
Shalom follows the recommend-
ed S2K meeting format to
ing Jewish Journey Groups —
small, short-term groups to
the letter. However, as the
work on specific issues or
S2K Jewish Family Education ,
study topics. Book club, car-
unit points out, "it is possible
to be both informal and very c,
ing committee, shivah com-
mittee — all these could be
So the agenda's first item is
formulated as journey groups,
members say.
"Schmooze: 6:45-7:05."
Carol Ogusky, in the final
The agenda then allots a
stages of planning the temple's
specific number of minutes
March 8 Monte Carlo night
to opening ritual, picking a
fund-raiser, says she's sorry the
historian to record the
first call received by some new
evening's events, check-in,
members was from someone
study and discussion with the
asking them to spend money.
rabbi, curriculum discussion,
"It would have been better if
housekeeping, check-out and
the first call had been, 'Come
closing ritual.
to hear Dan Nichols,"' she says.
This meeting is where the
Joe Firestone talks of tenta-
bonding that is the trademark
Cantorial soloist Penny Steyer of Commerce
tive plans for a retreat with
of Synagogue 2000 takes place. TOwnship leads the Temple Shir Shalom
This is where the innovations
S2K team in singing "Modeh Ani," the tra- temple leaders, to speak with
them about ways to incorpo-
begin — not in an elaborate
ditional prayer on waking in the morning.
rate an S2K systems approach
sanctuary but in a small room
Steyer points out that Shabbat,
throughout the Shir Shalom
on a cold winter's night.
Every Shir Shalom S2K meeting a day of rest for most people, is a
The evening ends with more
begins with a prayer, led by Penny work day for her 'This is my
Shabbat, my time out," she says.
singing, and, as the Shir Shalom
Steyer, cantorial soloist for the
"This is where I find a new place
S2K committee prepares to leave the
900-family Reform synagogue.
Tonight, it's Modeh Ani, tradition- I can't find the rest of the month." building, Bill Cooperstock of West
Bloomfield says he's leaving with
ally said upon rising in the morn-
"much more than he came in with."
ing. Steyer uses a contemporary
People Of The Book
As the. S2K family education
tune by musician-songwriter Dan
curriculum states:
Nichols, who recently led the con- Now that Detroit's S2K program
is in its third year, most of the 13
"Serious conversations and the-
gregation in a rock Shabbat.
teams have stopped including text moments of closeness allowed
Then there's the check-in, a time
powerful moments of silence and
when everyone says a few words on study in their monthly meetings.
"But what we most enjoyed
chances to sing with great spirit.
the topic for the evening.
the first year was the studying,"
The wonderful thing here is to
Tonight, the group numbers 11,
watch a community not com-
including Steyer and Rabbi Michael says Shir Shalom facilitator
Pam Kornfeld of West
pletely sure of the path through a
Moskowitz. And the evening's
Bloomfield. "When we stopped
service comfortably join together
topic is the Jewish Journey.
studying, we lost focus. So we
to make the journey" ❑
"My Jewish Journey is a series


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