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Rabbi Lader
Rabbi Lader

Nourishing our Spiritual Lives

New seating… New lighting… New accessibility… New flooring… New handrail… New air conditioning and heating… This has been the latest “news” over the past couple of years as we have entered into our 21st Century renovations, and we are thrilled. However, as wonderful as this news is, it is an accompaniment to our kehillah kedoshah – our sacred community.

Ron Wolfson, professor of Jewish education and trail-blazer in the field of synagogue transformation, helps us understand the nature of sacred community: “… where relationships are paramount, where worship is engaging, where everyone is learning, where repair of the world is a moral imperative, where healing is offered, and personal and institutional transformation are embraced.”

Our sacred community nourishes our spiritual lives. Spirituality. Not a particularly easy word to define, yet, as Wolfson writes: “… just under the surface of most people, you will find a spiritual soul waiting to find expression.” What is that spiritual soul looking for? Meaning, purpose, connection and Presence.

Wolfson suggests that if we can help each other find the answers to four basic questions, we can support and nourish each other’s spiritual lives:

  1. What is the meaning of my life? After I have shuttled my kids back and forth to all their activities… After I have worked my 60-hour week… After I have acquired so much… what do it all mean?
  2. What is the purpose of my life? What am I here to do? For what purpose can I use my talents and gifts to help to make the world a better place?
  3. Where can I connect to community? It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to live alone. There is a deep-seated human need to connect to others, to belong. Where can I find a community to belong to, a community that will be there for me, a community that I care enough about to be there for its members?
  4. Where is God’s Presence in my life? Do you need to believe in God to be Jewish? No. Yet, many of us seek something beyond ourselves. Where I can look for God, discover God, find the godliness in others?

Our Beth Israel – The West Temple has been a center for Jewish life on Cleveland’s west side for over sixty years. We have and continue to be a sacred community – a kehillah kedosha – nourishing each other and our spiritual lives. Times change. Buildings need refurbishing. Our spirits need revitalizing. May we step forward together – finding meaning and purpose to our lives, welcoming each other and reaching out to those who join with us along the way, and being grateful for the Divine Presence that manifests in our lives in so many ways.

Kol tuv – All the best,


Rabbi Enid C. Lader
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