I've spent a lot of time lately mulling over what makes a home Jewish, beyond occupants. Is it the observance of traditions and presence of ritual objects- a Kiddush cup and Shabbat candlesticks, Mezuzot on the door, a Menorah during Chanukah? For us, what makes our houses Emanuel homes?
When I was a child, my parents taught my brother and I to say the Shema before bed every night. At my day school, we prayed Shacharit first thing in the morning every day, but there wasn't much praying going on at home- except for holidays, and our bedtime Shema. I moved into my own home nearly 2 months ago, and I've found myself praying the Shema every night before bed- just like I did when I was a child. It seemed like a natural thing to do, to thank Adonai for the joys of my new domicile, where I hope to someday raise a child in our faith, in the Emanuel community. For me, saying the Shema every night is one part of what makes my new house a Jewish home. Plus, the digits that make up my address add up to 18- chai- what a happy omen!
In what ways do we make our houses Emanuel homes? Perhaps your child(ren)'s ECRS projects are hanging on the fridge, or maybe you have photos of Emanuel friends on your desk. Hopefully our post-Bnai Mitzvah aged kids still have their WRJ candlesticks and MOE Kiddush cups, and the Tanakh they received on their bookshelves. As former students of Cantor Shelly, we hope our Bnai Mitzvah alumni and their families will join us for the Bnai Mitzvah Reunion Share Shabbat on April 12th- a part of our Legacy Weekend celebrating Cantor Shelly's 25th anniversary! Speaking of the Cantor, I have a houseplant she cultivated for me, and when I see it every morning I am grateful for our community all over again. That little potted palm tree is a wonderful metaphor for how much we grow and evolve as Jews and as Emanuelites. All we need to nurture our faith is a little water, a little sunlight, good intentions, dedicated care, a supportive synagogue community, and a blessing or two.