Not Just an Ad Slogan (Rabbi Shalhevet)

I saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a bank. It began with a quote from a credit specialist at the bank saying, “We want our customers to feel like we care about them, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to help them feel that way.” Wait, what? THIS was an ad that was supposed to make me want to join them? Let me write it again the way I read it. “We want our customers to FEEL LIKE we care about them…” So, do they not actually care about me? They will just go to any lengths to deceive me into thinking they do? Wouldn’t it just be better if they actually cared about me?

So, I thought about it and decided, what does North Shore Synagogue do? What would our ad look like? What would it say?

I often walk through the halls of our Hebrew school, weaving in and out of classes on Sunday mornings or Monday afternoons and listen to the excited Hebrew chatter of our children. I see them in our Youth Lounge relay racing to find the Hebrew letter blocks first. I find them dancing with hand motions to Mi Chamocha. I witness them standing proud as they lead their class in a song, or a prayer, or show off a diorama of the 7 days of creation. I see their teachers with genuine smiles, truly enjoying passing on our traditions to our children. Our teachers care about our kids and our kids care about their Judaism.

I peek into our Nursery School classrooms almost daily (careful not to be seen by my daughter!) I see our adorable little ones engrossed in storytime or playtime or cooking time. I hear their insatiable laughter as they “scurry like mice” down the colored hallway to the big gym. I see toddlers reach out their tiny, chubby, hands for Miss Laura or Miss Jill in our Together for Tots program. And I see our teachers reaching back, providing our littlest ones with safe places to feel comfortable and explore play and learning.

When I lead my Wednesday morning classes, either our Torah class, our Safe Spaces discussion group or our Understanding Hebrew class, I see more than people coming to learn. They come to share. They come for community. Believe it or not, in our Safe Spaces discussion group, a Republican and a Democrat hugged each other. That’s right, hugged. Our Saturday morning Torah Study and Service in the Round groups share with each other their life stories and each of us grows because of it.

Our congregants show up for shiva, funerals, Baby Namings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. We bring food to those who need. In fact, we cooked many meals this Thanksgiving, with over 100 volunteers from our synagogue community. We then delivered them to people so that we could share Thanksgiving with them.

Here at North Shore Synagogue, we actually care about people. Our 7th graders volunteer at soup kitchens, food pantries, and schools for kids with special needs. We as a community hold a special service called “B’yachad” for kids and adults on the autism spectrum as well as those with a wide variety of learning and social differences. Our confirmation class of 10th graders will be taking a trip with me in March to the Religious Action Center in Washington D.C. to lobby our congress people and senators on issues they believe in. Over 250 people showed up to our Solidarity Shabbat to show care for our Jewish brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh and over 30 people came to our Interfaith Thanksgiving Shabbat in a HUGE SNOWSTORM to join with our local Christian and Muslim sisters and brothers to promote peace between peoples.

Yes, that would be my ad. At North Shore Synagogue it feels like we care because we actually do. Now go, spread the word.