Thursday, September 13, 2007

Woodstock’s Values, and Abraham’s, Too

Published: September 13, 2007


In his Rosh Hashana sermon today, Rabbi Jonathan Kligler, like many rabbis, will try to put the eternal struggle to square human fallibility with human aspiration in a context particularly germane to his own congregation.

So in the prepared text of his sermon he begins by meditating on “messianic visions of modernity,” particularly the idealism and passions of the ’60s that brought so many of his peers to this Catskill town still defined by the concert that wasn’t held here. Along with mulling over the “yetzer hara,” the capacity for evil, and the “yetzer hatov,” the capacity for good and the ancient wisdom of Rabbi Huna of Tzipori, he’ll tell his congregation to keep hope alive.

“I never want to abandon my idealism,” he says, near the beginning of the sermon. “I’m the rabbi of Woodstock, for God’s sake!”

Yes, Mr. Kligler is the rebbe of a distinctive congregation, where the High Holy Days ceremonies are always held outdoors in their beloved tent, and the first Rosh Hashana service begins with the singing of the ’60s anthem “Turn! Turn! Turn!” with the rabbi playing guitar, where there’s always plenty of singing, dancing and hugging along with the davening.

But still, two decades on, there’s a tale of modern Jewish life in the success of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation — Kehillat Lev Shalem (which means “the congregation of the full heart”). Like its members, like many Jews, it has tried to balance tradition and modernity, staying true to its core values and adapting to change, and has managed mostly to do it, even though no one began with a vision of a place that has an annual golf outing at the Rip Van Winkle Country Club.

“Our goal has always been to be truly welcoming, truly tolerant, true to the Woodstock ethos,” said Rabbi Kligler, who came to the congregation in 1988 as a student rabbi and never left. “At the beginning, no one wanted to have memberships, there was no accounting system. Our challenge was to grow without losing our vision and spirit.”

There were plenty of Jews in Woodstock, but no synagogue closer than Kingston until late 1986, when two refugees from Brooklyn, Laurie Schwartz and Nathan Brenowitz, decided to start one. First, they wanted to have a place where their son could learn to be Jewish — and they could learn along with him. Second, as Mr. Brenowitz noted, most of the Jews in town seemed to be Hindus or Buddhists, and they wanted a place with a Jewish identity that evoked the spirituality all their friends were seeking.

They placed an ad in The Woodstock Times announcing their intentions to start a synagogue that attracted 70 responses. First they planned a High Holy Days ceremony in a single room at the Woodstock Children’s Center. Then as word spread, they thought they could do it in two rooms with the prayer leader straddling the doorway between them. In the end, they rented a tent and more than 250 people attended the first service.

They operated for many years out of an abandoned flea market in nearby Saugerties. They contemplated a new building but worried that a traditional capital campaign might not be their thing. “The capital campaign consultants talked about a giving pyramid, with the big donors at the top,” Rabbi Kligler said. “That wasn’t going to work. We’re more like a giving mesa.”

But they pulled it off. This is their second year in the new $3 million, 12,500-square-foot building (which actually is in Woodstock) with the 150 purple chairs in the sanctuary donated by the Catskill Mountain Christian Center in Margaretville. There will be about 1,500 people attending the High Holy Days ceremonies, the membership is now 375 families, and the new building means the rabbi no longer has to operate out of a trailer behind the old flea market.

There have been at least two times of crisis. The first came when the congregation split over the rabbi’s suggestion that it affiliate with the Reconstructionist Movement, where he was trained (they decided to remain unaffiliated), the second the result of bitter political schisms after 9/11 and the second intifada over whether the synagogue was supporting Israel enough or supporting it too much (a few members quit, but life went on).

THE congregation is still distinctive, proud to have sponsored the bat mitzvah of a transsexual member who had her bar mitzvah decades ago. But Rabbi Kligler figures that with Judaism facing a growing chasm between the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox on one side and those more comfortable with modernity on the other, its experience isn’t just its own.

And though anyone can attend the High Holy Days services, those who’ve paid their membership dues get to park at the temple, a perk that might have been blasphemous in the old days, but no more.

“We finally have a privilege for members,” the rabbi said. “It makes a big difference. People have joined, so they can park on site.”



Anonymous said...

cheap wedding gowns,
discount bridal gowns,
China wedding dresses,
discount designer wedding dresses,
China wedding online store,
plus size wedding dresses,
cheap informal wedding dresses,
junior bridesmaid dresses,
cheap bridesmaid dresses,
maternity bridesmaid dresses,
discount flower girl gowns,
cheap prom dresses,
party dresses,
evening dresses,
mother of the bride dresses,
special occasion dresses,
cheap quinceanera dresses,
hot red wedding dresses

Anonymous said...

replica Watches
replica Watches
replica Watches
fake Watches
knockoff Watches
replica Rolex Watches
replica Breitling Watches
replica Cartier Watches
replica Omega Watches
replica Tag Heuer Watches
replica Bell & Ross Watches
replica Panerai Watches
replica IWC Watches
replica Patek Philippe Watches
replica Chopard Watches
replica Gucci Watches
replica Corum Watches
replica Montblanc Watches
replica Jacob & Co Watches
replica A.Dunhill Watches
replica A.Lange & Sohne Watches
replica Alain Silberstein Watches
replica Audemars Piguet Watches
replica B.R.M Watches
replica Baume & Mercier Watches
replica Blancpain Watches
replica BMW Watches
replica Breguet Watches
replica Burberry Watches
replica Bvlgari Watches
replica Chronoswiss Watches
replica Concord Watches
replica D&G Watches
replica De Witt Watches
replica Dior Watches

Anonymous said...

Replica Handbags
Fake Handbags
Knockoff Handbags

Replica Louis Vuitton Handbags
Replica Gucci Handbags
Replica Chanel Handbags
Prada Handbags
Replica Fendi Handbags
Replica Dolce Gabbana Handbags
Replica Chloe Handbags
Replica Jimmy Choo Handbags
Replica Thomas Wylde Handbags
Replica MiuMiu Handbags

Replica Balenciaga Handbags
Replica Coach Handbags
Replica Lancel Handbags
Replica Hermes Handbags
Replica Marc Jacobs Handbags
Replica Anya Hindmarch Handbags
Replica YSL Handbags
Replica Mulberry Handbags
Replica Givenchy Handbags
Replica Valentino Handbags
Replica Versace Handbags
Replica Cartier Handbags
Replica Marni Handbags
Replica Bottega Veneta Handbags
Replica Loewe Handbags
Replica Kooba Handbags

Replica Bally Handbags
Replica Burberry Handbags
Replica Christian Dior Handbags
Replica Juicy Couture Handbags
Replica Ferragamo Handbags
Replica Celine Handbags

Anonymous said...

australian flights
[url=]hotels by price
[/url]airline rankings
top rated airlines
tourist house
[url=]cheap rate hotels
[/url]victoria pension deals
korean flavour control class
hotel booking website
[url=]nick hotel prices
[/url]vietnam airlines booking
cheaply b & b stay
[url=]ivy hotel
[/url]hotel pantheon
matter discernment bearing trekking
newquay shabby
[url=]hotel le
[/url]pvr cinemas
thriftiness stock airlines
hotel price bidding
[url=]hotel 81
[/url]vacation deals
doll prostitution seedy
housing in bath

Anonymous said...

stingy visitor houses
price right hotels
profit booking
outset age motor hotel booking
hostelry accomodation
hotel bastille
osu homes
ginger tourist house booking
tatty hong kong b & b
hotel via
enormous prices on hotels
inexpensive sheds
cheap summer houses
hotel prices in france
stingy europe
initial refinement airfares
accommodation lake
albergo hotel
india booking
allot eight housing
airline covey of grouse reviews
hotel etoiles
cheap quarter and capture
hotel base rates
senior unseemly takings housing

Anonymous said...

Greetings I am so happy I found your web site, I really found you by error,
while I was browsing on Google for something else, Anyways
I am here now and would just like to say thanks for a
marvelous post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design),
I don't have time to look over it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the great job.

my site :: Abercrombie & Fitch

Anonymous said...

Hiya! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless I'd figured I'd ask.
Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest
authoring a blog article or vice-versa? My website covers a lot of the same subjects as yours and I think we could greatly benefit
from each other. If you happen to be interested feel free to shoot me an email.
I look forward to hearing from you! Superb blog by the way!

My page Michael Kors Outlet

Anonymous said...

Good respond in return of this matter with real arguments and explaining all on the topic of that.

Also visit my website: web page