Click hereor scroll down to read CBE member Amanda Leath’s thoughts on her experience at a Mishkan meeting;click hereto read CBE member Nikki DeBlosi’s thoughts on her experience.
What is this?
As we are starting to repair and improve our physical space, we want to use this opportunity for some deep reflection. Who are we as a community? What are our values? What defines us and makes us special?
The staff, clergy and board of trustees are developing a strategic plan for CBE and look forward to your input over the next year.
To support the strategic plan, a group of members is helping us go a step further, beyond the traditional focus groups and community meetings (don’t worry, we will have those too). They have created a program called Mishkan.
Mishkan was the name given to the temporary structure built by our ancestors to house the Holy Ark during the 40 years they wandered in the desert. It is said that it was only once the members of the community itself, not just the leaders and rabbis, built something together that they became a true community. As one commentator has said “it was only by becoming builders did we become citizens”.
How does this work?
Through Mishkan we have our own chance to be builders. Everyone is invited to take part in small group conversations facilitated by fellow members. You will be challenged to think deeply about our congregation and our community. To speak, to learn, to plan and to ACT on things that matter to us most: social justice, education, community, family, ritual etc.
When is this?
The launch of Miskan on December 7 was a huge success—as were the follow-up meetings in January, February, and March.
We have one more Mishkan meeting on the calendar, designed especially for new members, on May 30.
Again we will have structured conversations in small groups, facilitated by fellow congregants. We will have personal, authentic discussions about our lives and the role CBE can play in them, and how we can take action together.
CBE is a community made up of exceptional individuals. We believe that this community-wide discussion will produce extraordinary results.
To sign up, please contact Isabel Burton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-768-3814 ext 243.
For information about all our social action projects, click here.
CBE member Amanda Leath writes:
I have to admit, when I first heard about the Mishkan initiative I was not interested in joining in. But as I learned that it was a grass-roots oriented process and any changes that may stem from it would be from the bottom up, I became interested. I learned that it is a process through which the Synagogue’s culture could be defined and/or redefined based on what is important to its members.
I figured I couldn’t just sit on the sidelines, but I should join in this growing groundswell of members who believe the Synagogue should be defined by community and all the needs and interests that go along with it. I attended a meeting mid-January. Interestingly I knew almost everyone at my session, but realized that they crossed many different “circles” in which I move in the Synagogue. The two hours we spent together passed quickly. The facilitated discussion/sharing was engaging and gave me a front row seat into the possibilities for growth, connection, community, support and action which could be addressed through CBE.
Personally the meeting energized me. Once again I am poised to be more than just a member, someone who wants to help transform the Synagogue. Whether you want to be a change agent or just want your voice heard so your needs and interests can be considered, I urge you to participate in the next series of Mishkan meetings. It won’t be a waste of your time, at the bare minimum you will spend two hours with people in your community and learn a bit more about them, and at the most you may help transform the Synagogue into the community you want it to be.
CBE member Nikki DeBlosi writes:
Why participate in Mishkan at CBE? The community members who have spearheaded this organizing initiative chose to focus on the “temporary structure build by our ancestors to house the Holy Ark”—a structure built by the freely-given gifts and freely-offered talents of each and every member of the Jewish community as it traveled from slavery into freedom. Of this remarkable structure, God said, “Build Me a sanctuary and I will dwell among you” (Exodus 25:8). Build me a dwelling place, but it isn’t the building that really matters: it’s the people.
After attending a mid-January Mishkan meeting, I am convinced more than I ever was that the people matter more than the building. Although I agree that the preservation and development of our Sanctuary and Temple House matter to the vitality of CBE and to Brooklyn’s Jewish history, I learned at Mishkan that it is the people of our community who truly make this place sacred and special.
The two hours I spent at Mishkan demonstrated that CBE is made up of diverse members who share values—among them a strong desire for and sense of community commitment and mutual obligation. If we are truly to shape and foster a caring, learned, involved Jewish community, we must learn about our members. Mishkan is a process that seeks to learn more about each of us, so that we can each bring our gifts and talents freely to our ever-growing community.
Charitable giving is an important part of Judaism and is vital to our congregation. We depend on your act of generosity and kindness - of Tzedakah - to support our programs and facilities and help us meet the needs of our growing and diverse synagogue community.
Congregation Beth Elohim always welcomes new members. Learn more about joining our vibrant, growing community, or view or download a PDF of our membership form.