“Community Meeting” is a practice I often use at work to start meetings. It includes three simple, but powerful, questions that each person present is asked to quickly answer:

  • How are you feeling?
  • What is your goal for the meeting?
  • Who here can you ask for help?

Sometimes, because we frequently use this ice-breaker, answers can get a bit rote and the process can feel stale – especially the last question about help.  Today, however, as my two colleagues and I completed our community meeting we reflected on how important this question is.  We expressed how much we benefit from seeking and getting help from one another, how honored we feel when we are asked to help, how grateful we feel when we give help and how, too often, we are hesitant to ask for help and wait until we are really stuck before reaching out.

This conversation led me to think about Hazzan Harold’s request that I write something for Elul about why being part of the social justice work and the Love Your Neighbor Committee (LYN) at Beth Am has been important to me. I realized it’s about all of the above!

Giving help is very gratifying, but even more gratifying and comforting is belonging to a community, a beloved community, where I can ask for and get help and one that is deeply committed to offering help in multiple forms.  The Love Your Neighbor Committee, so ably led by Irene Glickman and Gabby Lipkin, offers opportunities to give and get help through acts of  G’milut Hasadim, caring for our own beloved community by supporting one another  in times of need such as losses of loved ones or illness; through Tzedakah or charity, and through Tikkun Olam, repairing the world outside our doors through hands-on actions, like the upcoming Green Team sponsored day to clean Flatrock Park and by participating in social justice actions aimed at changing practices and policies that are hurtful and harmful.   Being able to participate in this panoply of helping efforts offered through LYN has not only enriched me, but it has helped me in innumerable ways.  A few of them are through deepened connection to BAI and POWER members, opportunities to gain more courage to stand up, speak out, and advocate for what I believe in, and to take on new leadership roles.

This year I am honored to be serving as a new BAI Board member and as the Board liaison to the Love Your Neighbor, Inclusion and Green Team Committees.  I know that I will be asking many of you for help as I assume this new role, and I am certain, that as my beloved community, help will be offered.

Shana Tova