Rabbis care a lot about community because Judaism can only be fully realized and practiced with other people. If people don’t come together, it’s hard to do Jewish things.
Check this out:
- We pray in the plural (we atone on Yom Kippur for the sins WE have committed)
- We pray in a group called a minyan (at least 10 adults)
- Ruth said in the Bible, Your people will be my people, your God my God. People before God!
- Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, said that it’s more important to belong than believe.
- 2,000 years ago, Rabbi Hillel said, “Do not separate yourself from the community.”
It’s important to see the people you do Jewish things with as your community because that’s an intrinsic part of Judaism. And, don’t say…oh…we really don’t have community, because it’s usually just my family on a Friday night…that IS your community. I mean, you can always invite people over and enlarge the circle, but you’re doing enough!
Here are questions to consider when thinking about community in a realistic way. We throw around this word so much, that it’s hard to figure out what it even means.
Who would you say you can rely on now to be there physically if a kid needs to be picked up early from school or your car breaks down?
Who do you text or call first when something important happens?
Do you feel like there are groups on Facebook that are a community for you?
Are the fellow parents from your kid’s school and classes your community?
Are the people you work with your community?
How many people does it take to make a community?
What’s the difference (if there is one) between friends and family and people you would call your community?
Have you heard people say that they join something for the community? What are they saying they want? Is this about a feeling or about something more tangible?
Are you a people person or do you crave alone time? It’s not a binary, I know.
God says in the Torah to build a sanctuary that God may dwell among the people. God doesn’t say that the Eternal will be in IT. God is where people are gathered. (Exodus 25:8)