April Newsletter

Why Sulam? This is a question I frequently ask myself. This is because I never take the Congregation for granted. It is too precious for that. As the spiritual leader of Sulam, I constantly try to re-imagine our life and purpose. Why be a member of Sulam? What is our small synagogue contributing to the Jewish People? Why belong to a synagogue that does not offer a thick brochure of activities?

My answer is the following. It is amazing how, regardless of our size, we have never lacked for a minyan for our Shabbat services. This Congregation is a fantastic example of commitment to prayer. Our core minyan is solid and generates a profound sense of community. In fact, our Shabbat minyan has grown with the addition of individuals who have become regulars and are an integral part of our services.

Sulam’s unique spirit shines through Ari’s keyboard and Michael Varon’s guitar. Our services offer dynamism, spirituality, and joyfulness. It is within the service that another unique component of Sulam takes place – the Torah study. Our Torah study is special in its breadth of sources, length of discussion, and profundity of analysis. Our monthly Friday night services, which we have revived this year, are all about music. We move from prayer to prayer by experiencing melodies which match the meaning of the words.

Another pillar of Sulam is learning. During the past several months, we have been studying the thought of Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the most profound Jewish thinkers of the twentieth century. How is our learning unique? Well, I have used the same material I taught at rabbinical school. The depth of learning is at the same level as a college course. At the end of the journey, those who have attended will be enriched by a profound encounter with Heschel’s wisdom.

A few months ago, the “three Karens”: Feldman, Greene, and Lowentheil met in order to reinvigorate our social programs. What they created in a few months is amazing: a visit to The Museum of Jewish Heritage for a tour conducted by our own Fred Claar of an exhibit on Adolph Eichmann, an Israeli movie preceded by dinner in Greenwich, and an Oneg Shabbat during which Mark Schonwetter and his daughter, Ann Arnold, recounted the moving story of his survival during the Holocaust.

In our recent journey we experienced some frictions among ourselves. I am writing this message to remind us that we are custodians of a precious gift – Sulam Yaakov. We may still find some difficult challenges ahead, but if we remember how special Sulam is, we will overcome them. I wanted
to take this opportunity to remind you of the spiritual and intellectual power of this small community. We must always remember that Sulam stands for a wunique Judaism that is worth your support.

Harvey Geller and Rabbi Alfredo