Ned Gladstein: 5781 High Holiday Message


Dear Friends,

Nothing tests leadership like crisis. Looking back to a year ago, none of us could have predicted the challenges the year 5780 would bring. Our synagogue leaders have faced difficult decisions at every turn, how to protect and enhance the lives of our congregants, how to create new meaningful experiences and connections, and how to ensure our congregations thrive.

As we go into 5781 we do so with a sense of hope, mixed with loss and uncertainty.

We feel the loss of praying together and kibbutzing at kiddush. We feel the anxiety caused by so many disruptions — postponed or transformed life cycle events and celebrations that could not take place. We grieve for community and family members whom we’ve lost this past year, including those who fell victim to the virus.

We feel uncertainty about what the new year will bring. How will synagogue life continue to be transformed? How will we manage financially? How will we balance our personal, professional, and volunteer responsibilities when, at times, they seem so overwhelming?

And yet, we feel hopeful when we look back on a year in which so many of our synagogues have transformed themselves. We have discovered that our congregations are not about our buildings, but about the relationships that we build with our people and our communities. We have reached out to our members to keep them connected and cared for by adapting new rituals at home and taking prayer experiences, education, fundraising, and social experiences online. We start this year with a sense of confidence as we continue to overcome the challenges in front of us, and emerge strong, connected, nimble, and even transformed.

Through it all, I am proud of the role that USCJ has played, as we seek meaning together through our connections to resources and to each other. We are travelling this road together, treating one another with kindness, taking risks, sharing ideas, learning from our successes and failures, and giving each other encouragement. We are truly a united synagogue community. In the coming year USCJ will continue to offer that same support, connection, and training. We will continue to engage our teens. And we will deepen our partnership with the Rabbinical Assembly and other movement partners to continue to become a truly united movement.

Meanwhile, I am grateful to all who lead our congregations and met the challenges of this past year. Thank you for all you do, and please accept my wishes to you and your family for a Shanah Tovah — a year of blessings.


Ned Gladstein

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