Thank you, Beth Sholom

This seems to have become a yearly tradition of mine — I drop the “we” and straightforwardly take advantage of this space to gush about the Shabbaton at Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck.

I can justify this, though, because the Shabbaton is not only marvelous — and it is so very marvelous! — but it also is a model that other communities can use.

Beth Sholom is unusual in the number of rabbis, teachers, and other Jewish professionals who are members; many of them work at the Jewish Theological Seminary, a straight shot across Route 4 and the George Washington Bridge. It is also unusual in the level of Jewish knowledge and all-around brains just about all its congregants seem to have. The amazing thing about Beth Sholom’s Shabbaton is that it takes advantage of all those brains, all that background knowledge, all that intellectual and spiritual passion, by having community members teach each other. There are about 30 sessions — not counting the ones for kids and teenagers — that range from intellectually challenging to emotionally gripping.

And then the meals show off another aspect of the community, its warmth and cohesion. It is terrifically welcoming to outsiders, in the way that a community strong in its own internal strength can be, and that too is thrilling.

So thank you, Congregation Beth Sholom, for your warmth and love and education and insight. May your example be taken seriously.

About the Author
Joanne is the editor of the Jewish Standard and lives in Manhattan with her husband and two dogs, so she has firsthand knowledge of two thriving and idiosyncratic Jewish communities. (Actually that's three communities, if you also count the dog people.)