Second Saturday is a big hit at Temple Israel

by | Jun 2, 2014 | What’s Happening

Temple Israel is giving its members a choice on the second Saturday of each month.

Arrive at 9:15 am for a traditional service in the sanctuary or go downstairs at 11 am to the more intimate Sandler Hall for an engaging program like no other perhaps in the country.

After a brief Torah service, new synagogue president Joel Rubin leads a room full of eager congregants in interactive discussions on topics that generate heartfelt reflection and genuine learning. For the first Second Saturday in February, it was “My Best Jewish Day.” Attendees described emotional experiences in Israel, singing with residents at Beth Sholom, standing under the chupah at their children’s weddings, davening on a Navy ship at sea and more. Number two in March had congregants sharing their favorite Seder traditions and showing off personal holiday heirlooms. April’s focused on the movie Noah and whether the film strayed too far from the biblical version or was actually a plausible telling of the flood story.

And then there was May’s Shabbat Sheini, a powerfully moving morning of testimony from several of Temple Israel’s highly committed Jews by Choice. “The courage and dedication of these individuals to take on the task of conversion and then to embrace their new faith as they have was so moving for those of us born into the faith,” says Rubin. “I think we all left with a better appreciation for our own Judaism after hearing them talk about what is so great to them about being Jewish and members of our very welcoming synagogue.”

For Rabbi Michael Panitz, who is a strong proponent of the hour-long program, Temple Israel is the perfect laboratory for change in Sabbath observance. “We are not afraid of trying new things,” he says. “The goal for me is to give our congregants options, and Second Saturday has become a very appealing one. Yes it is shorter, but it also gives our members an opportunity to be part of a conversation while gaining a better appreciation for each other. To build a worshiping community, you have to build community, and this is a perfect tool, in the right setting—the synagogue, and at the right time—Shabbat.”

The title for the June 14 program is “Be Better than Isaac.” On the day before Father’s Day, Temple Israel member and therapist Marc Rabinowitz will challenge the crowd to reflect on their own experiences as fathers and sons and how to become better Jewish dads than even our famous forefathers.

“I really look forward to Second Saturday,” says TI’s Kirk Levy. “It fits my schedule, but I also love how casual and uplifting it is. Amy and I try to catch every one.”