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Keruv Article: The Company Keruv Keeps

04/07/2017 12:49:25 PM

Apr7

The Keruv Committee is composed of folks who desire to make Beth El as welcoming and inclusive as we can, within the bounds of Conservative Jewish halacha, financial and other practical constraints, and plain good sense.  We have a formal structure – task forces that focus on intermarriage, special needs and LGBTQ issues – and semi-regular meetings of a beautiful group of people who, in more cases than not, have been bonded to Beth El for decades.  That’s “formal” Keruv, working to open Beth El’s doors a bit wider to individuals and families who may not see them as open.

What would normally follow right about now is a detailed list of Committee achievements: our cross-generational work, speakers and panels, new facility services, non-traditional religious services, new members. 

All of which is true, all of which we are proud, but let’s not go there.

Moved by Rabbi Schuck’s description, in an earlier Bulletin, of a Manhattan synagogue’s members who simply up and visited their local hospital following Shabbat services in performance of the mitzvah of bikkur cholim, and inspired by Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove’s Park Avenue d’var Torah several weeks ago entitled “The Company We Keep,” which envisions the synagogue as the place where we have been commanded to be our best selves, the Keruv Committtee takes this opportunity to thank our community, the company that Keruv keeps, for doing keruv without fanfare or formality.

“Doing keruv”?  That’s when: 

  • a Beth El member brings the children of a neighbor, as well as her own, to the Purim Carnival
  • a twenty-something Shabbat attendee quietly asks a group of the Bar Mtitzvah boy’s buddies to up and move down the row so that a non-member family attending the simcha will be able to sit together during the service
  • a tall gentleman member sitting in the back of the sanctuary on that same Bar Mitzvah morning quietly goes out to get a chair for a late arrival
  • one member of a weekly Kiddush table voluntarily moves to another table, away from her friends, so that an elderly gentleman who is alone will have a seat – and, with a wink at the gentleman, asks those friends to make him feel at home
  • a member of our synagogue approaches the Keruv Committee to suggest that, when we look into programs for LGBTQ youth, we should not forget the large Orthodox youth community around Beth El
  • a member of our teen community holds the front door open for six long minutes, composed and smiling, while a group of visitors from Chai House get themselves organized to enter – and then asks if there’s anything else he can do to assist.

All were real encounters.  And all merely one person’s observations.

In our hearts and heads we know that this just skims the surface. That our best selves shine in this community, and that the company Keruv keeps is sacred.       

Thu, September 23 2021 17 Tishrei 5782