The Sages taught that King Solomon began building the Temple in Jerusalem during the 4 days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot, so it's only fitting that as a community, we begin thinking about how to repair and restore a Sanctuary built originally in 1909 and poised to be conceived of anew for the next 100 years of its existence.
What a week it has been. 7 days ago we were absorbing the news of a section of ceiling falling in and were received so warmly by our friends at Old First. And now we are taking the deliberate and important steps of making the right set of decisions so that ours and future generations will worship and learn in comfort and beauty.
The Sages further taught that if an opportunity to perform a mitzvah presents itself==rush to do it. Well, the mitzvah of "build me a sanctuary and I will dwell within it," echoing God's word in Torah about the Tabernacle in which would reside the Tablets of the Law seems a fitting quote to use when thinking about the gravity and the urgency of the matter at hand. Our house of God is calling for repair and so as a community we are urgent about doing what's right, at the same time that we are aware that our careful and studied deliberateness will aid us in the long-run.
And finally, the Sages taught that the fulfillment of the commandments should have an aesthetic appeal--there should be beauty and beautification involved in the carrying out of God's will. I think of Gia and John and Adam and Dan laboring in our alley to build an original Sukkah, for the Festival which comes in tomorrow night. I think of the countless people who have called and emailed in the past few days, talking about the beauty of our community, the gratitude that people feel being a part of something so special, responding and being responded to with warmth and intent and purpose that reaffirms the choice of community people made in order to live here in Brooklyn and be a part of what we're doing. And I think of all of those over the years who have put in hours of labor and hours of love in order to be a part of a social aesthetic of caring and giving that make our nearly 150 year old synagogue such a special place.
We have a one hundred year old building that needs a new roof and when all is said and done will likely need a whole new interior Sanctuary; we have an 80 year old building that likely needs an elevator, a new kitchen, a renovated ballroom and roof access. All in an economy that is less than favorable to non-profits.
And yet we possess, like our founding inspiration, the Biblical Jacob, the product of what happens when one sets one's head on stone and dares to dream: a House of God. What that actually means as we embark on this journey will be a sight to see.
And to quote a more modern Sage--just one from two hundred years ago, the world may seem like a narrow bridge that we are crossing: teetering, unstable, uncertain. But the most important thing of all is not to be afraid.
The other side of the dream that night in the desert, for Jacob, more than three thousand years ago, was daylight and following realization:
"How awesome is this place! This is none other than the abode of God and that is the gateway to heaven."
We are so there.