Dear Rodeph Sholom Family,

Today marks the beginning of the month of Cheshvan, the only Hebrew month without a holiday or festival. According to our early sages, this is the beginning of seedtime, when the agricultural moment for planting spiritually mirrors us sowing the seeds of change we fostered amidst the High Holy Days. These are the weeks in which we cultivate the first kernels of a new year and bring intention to the momentum we nurture.

In my first months as Senior Rabbi, our entire professional team, from clergy to administration to facilities to security, worked to shape the most complicated High Holy Days in our Rodeph Sholom history. There are not sufficient words to capture the gratitude we all feel for our team, and for our entire congregation holding together to elevate awe and optimism. COVID protocols required myriad adaptations and evolutions, and we celebrated a seamless experience across online and in-person worship, with more offerings, more avenues, and more ways to glean meaning from this season than ever before. In a community with such a wide array of needs and realities, we charted a course intended to hold us all together at a time of flux.

On Yom Kippur, I reflected on the legacy of Rodeph Sholom fulfilling the needs of the community in each generation, recentering and evolving with each of us. While many of the changes witnessed this year were necessitated by our health protocols, as we look to the years ahead, we will hold fast to the example of prior generations by bringing intention to keep this congregation centered on our community. In order to do this, we open more paths to listen and understand, expanding our awareness.

The injunction to listen (שמע), appears more than a thousand times in the Hebrew Bible. Even the very watchwords of our tradition, the Shema, begins with the responsibility to pay attention. In our call to community, we begin with listening. At this moment of seedtime, as we germinate our growth, we wish to glean your perspectives. In a congregation as diverse and vibrant as ours, we cannot fulfill all needs at all times, but it is our responsibility to ensure we are aware of each person and together move this institution to reflect our community. As we emerge from our many holidays and communal moments, we would be grateful for your reflections, helping lend your wisdom in the work ahead. This ensures that the seeds we now sow will be cultivated by our community.

We invite you to reflect on three layers of feedback, whether about High Holy Days or the congregation as a whole: from your perspective, what should we keep doing, what should we stop doing, and what should we start doing? Please complete this survey, or send us an email at clergy@crsnyc.org.
Thank you for bringing your reflections into our planning for the chapter before us. I look forward to growing with you and shaping this year of blessing together.

With gratitude,

Rabbi Benjamin Spratt
Senior Rabbi