A couple weeks ago, an entire Torah parsha (Terumah) was dedicated to the painstaking details and process of building the Mishkan, the sanctuary that would travel in our midst through the desert. It covered the materials that were required, the work to be done, the dimensions of the space and detailed “drawings” of the ritual objects that it would contain.
The Mishkan would, of course, be located in the centre of the travelling Jewish community. Everyone would see it and everyone would have pride of ownership, through their individual or tribal contributions to its construction, or by those hands who had helped in its creation.
The Mishkan was just a physical structure, but what it held was the hopes that were poured into it, for what people gave to it, they took a whole lot more from it, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It became the focal point for what that new Jewish community was and what it wanted to be.
This certainly came to mind over the past few weeks, as so many members of our Temple community met in small group settings to contribute and to funnel their ideas of what gives meaning to our Temple community in ways that went far beyond the physical walls of our sanctuary. It was about tikkun olam, repair of the world, and it was about expanding our Temple membership, and it was for sure about the light and the beacon of liberal Judaism in Winnipeg.
And like our ancestors in the desert, what I witnessed were not just lists of ideas that “you” could do, but as well, I heard themes developing out of the many ideas and offers of time and specific tasks that each could contribute. In those ways, our physical building at Temple Shalom, even as it remains closed, continues to mirror our ancient Mishkan – as a lens, a focal point for where, why and how we gather as a community and find our voices – together, stronger, and even more united in purpose.
As these initiatives unpack in the days, weeks, and months ahead, I encourage you to add your voice – and your actions – to ours.
As always, wishing you well in these challenging times.