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Elul – Out With the Old…

by Mollie Andron, Coalition Educator

There is a well-used expression that states “Out with the old and in with the new.” However, as we all know in congregational education this idea is much easier said than done. Before any sort of change can happen, there needs to be an acknowledgment that something old needs to be replaced with something new. This first step is the hardest one of all. 

We are living in an era where change is taking place all over the world. People are frustrated with the status- quo and are demanding to be listened to. In my recent trip to Israel, I had the privilege of walking the tent lined street of Rothschild and watched countless numbers of people orating, demanding to be heard, and wanting changes to be made. At this point, they aren't yet sure how the government will respond and whether their conditions will be met. But the people have done all that they can and it is now up to the government to respond in an appropriate manner with new legislation. 

In congregational education we too need to listen to our people. The largest way that people express their sentiments is with their feet. If the numbers are low, or the parents and children have stopped listening, then we can surely note that the “old just ain't working no more.” 

I have the privilege of working with three synagogues – Emanu-El in Westchester, Emanu-El in NYC, and Shaaray Tefila in NYC – that listen to their people. They are experimenting with new models to try and create Jewish experiences that people will remember. Although throwing out the old is hard, the world is demanding it. We need to create new models that relate to the people of our time. In the spirit of the month of Elul, where we are being asked to account for our soul and reflect on what this year shall bring, I bless us all to have the courage to open our hearts to new and bold experiences. 

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