An invitation to shape the 40th Anniversary celebrations of Congregation B’nai Shalom

In the first week of November we held our kick-off brainstorming event to imagine all the ways that we might mark and celebrate the 40th anniversary of our congregation. As congregational histories go, we are still young. But, as those who have crossed the 40-year threshold themselves know…not as young as we used to be! Forty years is also a significant number in Jewish tradition. After forty years of wandering, the Children of Israel reached the Promised Land. But those forty years were formative in creating the ethos, the culture, and the values that were to guide them in the next phase of their lives. Also, forty was traditionally the age at which one could start studying the mystical traditions of Judaism. Having had sufficient years to get grounded in Jewish community life and having had enough life experience to see the complexities of life more clearly, an exploration into the spiritual realms enabled something deeper to emerge in the next stage of life.
Our congregation has celebrated important milestones before, particularly those associated with the completion of the original building and then the expanded building, along with celebrations of particular years of clergy leadership. But it does not seem that we have celebrated an anniversary of our formation as a congregation since our bar mitzvah year. So this is a wonderful opportunity to look back at what has been achieved, take stock of who we are today, and think about our aspirations for the future.
To that end, out of our brainstorming evening came several key project areas, some specific projects that we’d like to explore further and develop, and project teams of members, just like you, to turn these great ideas into reality. By now you will, hopefully, have received emailed information about these projects and the opportunities to join these teams. However, here they are again and, if you have not yet told us that you’d like to be part of a group, you can still do so via
Whether helping with a one-time event, exploring our archives, working with our education team, creating and maintaining a garden, or planning one of our parties — we’d love to have you be a part of this special year in any way that you feel you can contribute.
Social Events Team: Three primary social events are envisioned throughout the year: a carnival-like day, with activities for all ages spread throughout a day-long event; a Food Truck festival and beer tent — open to the wider community; a Grand Gala — a special evening with significant fundraising impact.
Garden Project Team: This team is looking at creating a new garden that could be utilized in a variety of ways by the community.
Archival Team: This team will be exploring our history and archive collection to produce some or all of the following: a lobby display of our congregation’s history; a commemorative book; and a Story-Corp project where the youth of our congregation will interview those who can share important moments in the history of the congregation, for a video or podcast series.
Marketing Team: This team will be launching a search for a new logo for B’nai Shalom that will be used in our 40th year celebrations and beyond. Appropriate commemorative items will be commissioned with the new logo.

In addition to these teams that are developing these project areas, there will be an opportunity to join with Ritual Practices to help develop our kick-off and closing ritual celebrations, an opportunity to join the Social Action committee as it considers how some of our celebrations can include a social action component. We will also be exploring an Artist-in-Residence who will bring us the opportunity to engage in some very special Jewish arts to create something together to mark this special year.
Whether you feel you can contribute in ways large or small, I hope that you will join us in our 40th year anniversary celebrations, kicking off on Simchat Torah 2018!

Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz