July 29, 2011

Last Thursday I was overjoyed and excited to welcome over 150 campers and staff from Camp Ramah here in Nyack to an incredible concert they hosted in our new social hall.  All I could think about was the Beatles classic “Imagine All the People.”

Since arriving at CSI only a short few weeks ago, it has been made clear to me that one of my mandates is to bring in new families, as well as plan new and innovative programs to share with our current young members and families.  While we are all aware that this is not going to happen overnight, last Thursday gave me a glimpse into what the future portends.  As I watched these children dance and sing in the social hall followed by time to sit outside, play and eat a snack on our wonderful property, I got a brief peek as to what our shul can look like in the future.

Last week’s parsha involves taking a census of the Israelite people.  After the census is taken, however, beginning this week in Parashat Mattot, and throughout the rest of the Torah, lists all the necessary preparation so that our people can properly enter the land of Israel.

Here at CSI the same kind of preparation is going on so that we can hopefully enter into our new era with our children’s programming titled “Gan Katan.”  Programs and times are listed at the end of this message.

It does not stop there, this August, we are going to be offering Watermelon Wednesday CSI Storytime every Wednesday at 10:30.  And, on Sunday, September 11th, we will have our first annual Rockaroo Concert for parents and children as I expect the social hall to be rocking from 11 a.m. to noon!  I am not the only leader for all of this myriad of activities.  The facilitators are all professional and some of the storytelling will feature my wife Lauren who has 10+ years of experience as a Jewish educator at cutting edge day schools in New York and Los Angeles.  Needless to say, everyone will be masters of their craft.

We have exciting programs on the horizon for the religious school and families of all ages as well.  Please be on the lookout for these future programs.

All that I have mentioned is just a taste of what we are looking to offer here at CSI.  However, none of this amazing programming is going to be successful without each of YOU!

This week’s parshah begins with God giving instructions regarding the making of vows and oaths.  Any vow made in the name of the Lord must be fulfilled.  In the Torah there is a differentiation between the vows of men and women, but I believe in our egalitarian world today the vows are equal.

I am asking each of you to make a vow to help us make our new programming initiatives successful.  If you know of any friends, grandchildren, neighbors, or anyone at all that may have an interest in our programs (members or non-members), please contact me and give me their information so we can get them on board.  I need each of you to help me get the word out that these programs are legitimate and right here at CSI.  We want to have as many children enjoying each program as possible.

On top of getting the word out, in order to make these programs as successful as possible, I need more of your help.  If you have any extra time on your hands throughout the week, we could really use your help just to greet new families at the entrance to our newly remodeled synagogue, or help us serve snack at one of these classes.  Just being there to smile, greet, meet, and schmooze is enough.  Before you know it, you will be tapping your feet and singing along. We need everyone involved!

“Imagine All the People.”  Right now we are only imagining.  This project is going to take time, and success is not going to be quantitative but qualitative initially.  However, with your help, we can make this place into the vibrant, unique shul that I know we all want it to become.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham