On Shabbat morning June 13th, Sarah Yodfat celebrated becoming a Bat Mitzvah at Chisuk Emuna. Well, not exactly at Chisuk Emuna – our building remains boarded up following the devastating fire that destroyed our sanctuary and damaged our building. Sarah marked her assumption of the rights and responsibilities of Jewish adulthood as part of the Chisuk Emuna family at our temporary home at the JCC. Every life cycle event celebrated in the weeks since the fire has been particularly precious. The naming of Julia Faith Klein, the Bar Mitzvah of Nathaniel Pinskey, Confirmation, Hebrew School Graduation and now Sarah’s Bat Mitzvah are all evidence of our Congregation’s vitality. The ongoing weekday, Shabbat and holiday services, classes, social events and lifecycle celebrations are all indications that the life of Chisuk Emuna goes on!
Even as we lament the loss of our sanctuary and address the physical and financial challenges left in the aftermath of the fire, thanks to our gracious hosts, the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg, our temporary home at the JCC is a laboratory for us to explore what our future home — whether at Fifth and Division Streets or elsewhere — might look like. In various rooms at the JCC, we have tried different configurations of seating for services. Members have taken turns decorating our prayer spaces. We are even getting the chance to experience “shared space”. Last week, for the first time, on account of Sarah’s Bat Mitzvah our services and luncheon were held in the same room. It took six minutes to transform the “sanctuary” into a “reception hall.” As architects work on a feasibility study and as we continue to collect data to help us make thoughtful decisions about our congregation’s future home, there is something very unique about our temporary stay at the JCC. What a gift it is to be part of the Chisuk Emuna family in our collective exploration and experiment in serving G-d, creating community and repairing the world.
I look forward to seeing members of the Chisuk Emuna family in “shul” and at the annual meeting on Monday evening, June 29th at 7:45 p.m. in the Mary Sachs Auditorium at the JCC as we update you on — and you contribute to — our congregation’s journey of rebuilding.