A Few Thoughts about Temple Or Rishon
Temple Or Rishon (TOR) is a 240 family Reform congregation in Orangevale, Ca, serving the northeast Sacramento valley. Though many join TOR because of its geography, people stay because of the relationships and personal connections that come with their involvement. When taking a close look at the Temple and its activities it is clear that TOR offers more programs than one would normally expect from a small to medium sized congregation. TOR is a busy congregation. And yet, with programs that reach out to young families, people with special needs, interfaith couples, teens, empty nesters, seniors and so many others, being a part of the TOR community is about much more than joining the programs it offers.
I have been the spiritual leader of TOR since July 2009. For me, a Temple is about more than programming and committees. Belonging should connect us to something larger than ourselves. A Temple should be a place where people come to seek meaning and purpose in their lives.
One of my favorite teachings comes from the great Jewish mystic and Kabbalist Rabbi Ezkari. Ezkari lived in the town of Tzfat in northern Israel in the 1500's. He wrote that when one teaches Judaism to another, that person has fulfilled the commandment of "teach them to your children." BUT when one teaches that same lesson with joy, passion and enthusiasm, they have also fulfilled the commandment to "love the Lord your God with all your soul and all your might".
With so many things that pull people down—economic concerns, health issues, challenging relationships—I want our TOR community to know that belonging to a Temple and to Jewish community has the power to lift us up and make us feel good. TOR strives to be a place that inspires us to live our lives, and our values, with joy, passion and enthusiasm.
When people step into TOR they should feel as though they are in a place where, if only for a few minutes, they feel less fragmented, less frazzled and less lonely. This only happens when we work together to make the Temple a place of warmth, kindness, and mentchlikeit. This kind of community has the power to penetrate deeply into the human heart. This is the kind of community that people will join, and stay a long time!
Rabbi Alan Rabishaw