So I have to admit, one of the things that I was nervous about was moving to Cleveland when we were expecting a child. It’s one thing to change jobs, move your family, and find a new home. It’s a whole other thing when you do this and your wife is five months pregnant. Some of the anxiety was logistical. How quickly could we find an OB? What hospital would we use? Who would take the kids if Ali went into labor in the middle of the night?

The rest of the anxiety was about community.

And I and my family are grateful that it is just not something that you have to worry about in Cleveland. I have written before how appreciative we are of the support that we received as we made the transition. With the birth of our son, Gilad Lev, the strength of this community is even more readily apparent. Whether offers of meals, playdates for the girls, or just checking in to see how we were doing, this is a community that understands what it means to be a part of a kehillah.

Judaism is not a religion that functions well in a vacuum. We require a quorum of ten, a minyan, for some of our most important prayers and rituals. Our ceremonies are often at their most meaningful when said as part of a community whether it is saying gomel (a prayer of thanksgiving after an illness, surgery, or long trip), welcoming a child into a community as part of a Brit Milah, or hosting Sheva Brachot (special meals for the bride and groom during the seven days following a wedding).

Keeping a community going takes work and you can see it in the hours of volunteer work that goes on here at school. You can see it in the speed with which the Schechter community mobilizes to support families experiencing life cycle events. And you can see it in the pride that we show when we talk about our community.

So, keep talking, keep volunteering, and keep strengthening Kehillat Schechter. Join us at the next Kehillat Schechter meeting (December 9, 7:30 PM), volunteer for the book fair, participate in the school’s annual campaign, and come sit with me and talk all things Schechter at a Bo N’Daber session (December 16, 8:15 AM). And as someone who has seen first hand just how powerful and impactful our community can be, thank you.

Shabbat Shalom,

Dr. Ari Yares

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