Sinai Temple in Los Angles rain a great Shabbat morning service this Shabbat morning. If you came before nine you witness a very nice Bat Mitzvah. David Wolpe gave a three story sermon worth quoting:
STORY ONE: The Kotsker Rebbe answered the question of how he became a Hasidic Rebbe by saying, “There was this old man in my village who told stories.” Asked, “Was he a good story teller?” The Kotsker answered, “He was a simple man. He told what he knew and I took what I needed.”
STORY TWO: Woody Allen said, “We are at a crossroad and one way is dead and destruction and the other way is despair and anguish. We much choose carefully.”
STORY THREE: Winston Churchill’s grandfather went to a formal dinner. He was asked, “Who were your ancesters.:” The woman who asked was checking out how important he was based on his legacy. The grandfather answered, “Madam, I am an ancestor not a descendant.
Let’s see if you can work out the the sermon (about Israel) from the stories.
Craig did one Shabbat Morning, with his band, an adult choir, a kid’s choir, two cantors, an Israeli singing star, and a Yom Kippur side crowd. Everything changed at 11:00 AM. when hundreds of people walked in, the back wall went up, and the sanctuary crowd swelled to a Kol Nidre crowd. Lots of kids, teenagers, older adults on walkers, everyone. Here in an ordinary Shabbat morning in May–in celebration of the State of Israel–a rock show sized crowd filled a sanctuary and joined in singing and clapping.
In an era when “no one is coming” and we seem to be leaking membership and crowds, Sinai Temple, Craig and Rabbi Wolpe, have figured out how to recreated Judaism as major experience. They know how to make sacred moments. This is a time when the Conservative movement is still discussing the halakhic ramification of tuning guitar strings. There is a lesson to be learned here.