Sunday, February 17, 2013


I've given myself a respite from my own shul this winter.  I've not been absent entirely but absent enough to see if anyone takes attendance.  In all likelihood nobody misses me.  This winter brought my monthly day trip, Rosh Chodesh across town, a chance to sample an attempt at transdenominationalism across town, my periodic platelet donation, one weekend as Ba-al Shacharit at my own place and next shabbos I return as Torah reader.  While I cannot say whether anyone missed me, I can say that I found the absence welcome.  Nobody there seems obligated to respond to me, whether I comment on our service or on the experience someplace else.  Judaism in my mind is ultimately about the exchange of ideas, some welcome, some not.  Our sages were constantly engaged in dialog and current students thousands of years later learn by chevruta. I tap into my own sources, primarily, where no interaction is expected.  The lack of interaction where I do expect it creates a negative.  I run my medical teaching in an interactive way, whether with patients or residents or students.  I ask them questions, pose something perhaps provocative in the way of science or they query me.  At Mercy Philadelphia Hospital ideas create energy.  On Sermo somebody posts a comment and dozens of comments from people I am never likely to meet ensue.  On Facebook an article from The Forward will generate a dozen responses.  Some of my FB Friends post items of interest to them that will have been read by thousands with remarks from dozens.  This doesn't seem to happen at AKSE, or if it does I am isolated from it.  Trying to generate an AKSE Academy generates less enthusiasm each year, including from me.  The Rabbi for all intents and purposes never makes comments that generate discussion or even incite people to send cards and letters.  The President might but he controls discussion.

In a setting where mode of worship can never be regarded as inviting to large segments of the community, some form of compensation needs to be implemented to attract attendance.  Embracing/Engaging/Enriching, the logo, can providing there is really a commitment to innovation and advancement.  It just hasn't been there.  I'm not sure too many people recognize its absence.

Suggestions to make a shul more interactive would be welcome.

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