Ina Lubin, former president of Temple Israel and active member of the Wilkes-Barre Jewish Community, shares her thoughts on our new home.
On a cold drizzly Spring Sunday morning, my husband and I bundled up and headed over to the Third Avenue Information Session. We briefly considered spending the morning in our nice warm home but were curious enough about the status of the proposed future home of our Center for Jewish Life. Also beckoning were the bagels and lox refreshments.
My own feelings about home and community have evolved as I moved through adulthood. During my years as a young single, followed by marriage, a full-time career and parenting three children, I only gave it superficial thought. Home was part of a community were where we had careers, owned a home, had parents and some local extended family. We were members of a synagogue and the JCC which provided our children with a Jewish education and a place to be with other young Jews. The Jewish connection to the ‘community’ was only a small part of feeling at ‘home’ and was primarily focused on giving our children a Jewish identity.
What does home and community mean now? Careers are past history as we enjoy retirement, our children no longer live here, our parents and most extended family has passed or moved away, and the Jewish community is diminishing for a variety of reasons.
The definition of home and community have now evolved to mean a stronger connection to my Jewish roots providing a common bond with the Jewish population that still remains in the valley. This bond now defines my home and my sense of membership in a community. Our Jewish relationships have taken on an almost sacred importance that was not there in the past as our biological family is at a distance or is no longer with us.
Whatever our stage and priorities in life, our Jewish community ‘family’ needs a place and activities to keep it strong. A common place outside of our homes and secular community to come together to socialize, learn, keep in physical shape and share our common Jewish culture. Our synagogues provide some of this environment but the new Jewish Center can do much what the South River location did…bring multiple dominations together to share in collegiality and the cultivation of relationships…serving as a base for keeping our Jewish community in the Wyoming Valley strong and culturally connected to one another.
We need a new, modern space as we reinvent ourselves moving forward. We deserve it, and perhaps in an age when affiliation is not a priority, whether it be to religious or secular institutions, our brand-new physical space will provide the fertile ground for us to grow a Jewish community that meets the ever-evolving future needs of multiple generations.