Quite a few things have happened since November. First, the rabbi asked me to help lead Carlebach-style Kabbalat Shabbat services once a month. The old folks are still getting used to it, but they seem to like the peppiness. It takes about an hour and a half. We have wine tasting afterwards. So far it seems to be a hit (bringing in about 30 folks for a Friday night service, which is about 2-3 times the usual attendance).
I am still getting used to leading anything, much less prayer. I know enough to know I don't know all that much, but I figure that if people find it meaningful or enjoyable and it gets people in who otherwise wouldn't attend that it must be a good thing.
In related news, I was asked to join the Beth Elderly board and was almost unanimously elected (one old lady in the seat in front of me voted against, then immediately turned around and said "welcome aboard!")
I had my first board meeting on Monday. It took over two hours. Mrs. Yid called me afterwards to ask how it went. I wonder if "Jesus tapdancing Christ" was the most appropriate response.
There are now four of us young folks (30 and below), plus the rabbi who's in his late 30s. The rest of the board ranges from 50s to 80s. Needless to say, we are not all exactly on the same page. The young folks know the shul needs to find ways to attract new members. The outgoing President stirred up a big fuss when he proposed trying to make a new "Kehillah" consisting of several small shuls in town and moving under Temple Ol'Faithful's roof. While at the moment there seems to be very little enthusiasm about the idea from the Old Guard (one older board member, who I'll call Fishy, railed against each of the other small shuls, singling out B'nei Hippy in particular as "not even being a real synagogue!"), I think it's been invaluable in getting them all talking about how to keep the shul sustainable. The reality is whether we stay in our shteibl or find somewhere new, we need to be able to give people what they want and need, and folks like Fishy who think "everything is doing great" are kidding themselves if they think we're going to get anyone in the door with facilities that aren't ADA compliant and bathrooms that are older than me. At a bare minimum, we need to invest in our building, our infrastructure, and our programs. These are non-negotiable.
So, yeah, there's a little work to be done. I don't know how much I'll be able to help, but hopefully I can do some good. I'm not sure how I feel about becoming so entrenched within a community structure in such a short amount of time, but my hope is that we can help keep things going and maybe even bring some new blood and ideas into the shul.
For the cherry on top: Today I'm going to see an old friend from high school who asked me to officiate at his wedding. I've come quite a long way from the first time I opened up "Basic Judaism" 14 years ago.
Masha the Meshugenner had a major melt-down in shul when the rabbiw as discussing shmita and the Jubilee and opened it up to comments from the crowd. She is fairly Republican and didn't like the idea of everyone losing their private property. Ezekiel, who is about as oblivious as Masha to opinions other than his own, said he thought it was a nice connection to the modern-day green movement and then shot her response down by saying that the synagogue was no place for political arguments. Masha got super pissed, stormed out cursing, and then milled back and forth in the back for another 20 minutes before calming down and doing a hora with the kids during L'Dor V'Dor.
The moral of the story? Maybe certain shul members should only be allowed to talk to the rabbi, not each other.