Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Kavvanah, 8/23/2011 - Building Community: Sacred Moments

The third level of building relationships is bein adam la-qehillah / between individuals and the community. How do we do this? By creating shared sacred moments.

It is indeed possible to have sacred moments alone - some of us might identify our most mundane rituals as holy to us: that first cup of coffee in the morning, the quiet read before bedtime, and so forth. But I have found that the most powerful sacred moments are the collective ones: lifecycle events (weddings, benei mitzvah, etc.), special tefillah / prayer experiences, singing together after Shabbat dinner on Friday night.

These are the moments that connect us to each other, that establish relationships between the individual and the qehillah, the group. We need to find more of these. As the sociologist Robert Putnam pointed out in his essential book, Bowling Alone, our "social capital," our interconnectedness as a society has gradually eroded over the past half-century. As such, the need for shared sacred moments is greater than ever; we should strive to create more of them, both within and without the synagogue.

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