Appreciating a Growth Oriented Environment

Rabbi Yonatan Kaganoff has an article called The Post Yeshiva Synagogue on Gil Student’s blog. You can read the article and formulate your own opinions on Rabbi Kaganoff’s hypothesis, but I thought the following comment excerpt from Ari Heitner on May 21, 2013 at 8:58 pm made some very important points:

The kollel/beis medresh is a place that’s busy all the time, not a shul that’s dead except for an hour twice a day and a few hours on Shabbos. It’s a place where people who learned for years in yeshiva study together with people new to serious Torah scholarship. It’s a place full of people participating in their Yiddishkeit rather than just passively consuming it. It’s a place where people who work hard all day still show their primary focus is Torah, and a place that sets the tone as a community of people growing rather than stagnating. It’s a place with an active N’shei and a community that extends far beyond the four walls of the building.

It is a kid-friendly, female-friendly, family-friendly social and cultural Jewish Center. And it shows that the social and cultural center of Judaism is Torah study.

(Oh yeah, they also have davening there)

My experience in our growth oriented Shul on Shabbos/Weekday Beis Medrash confirms Ari’s conclusion that creating a community of people growing is the key to success. I would just add that two important components of that growth are the Shul’s chesed activities and a competent Rav to guide people on their individual growth paths.

I think the major change that has occurred in Shuls over the years is that many more people have become growth oriented. The increase in Yeshiva graduates and BTs has helped fuel this growth. This is an extremely positive development, however Shuls that don’t evolve to accommodate this new reality will face difficulties ahead.

2 thoughts on “Appreciating a Growth Oriented Environment”

  1. “…Shuls that don’t evolve to accommodate this new reality will face difficulties ahead.”
    That’s the money quote and the primary reason my family is Shul shopping for sustainability. While our Shul is the evening home of a vibrant Kollel, it is still a place that some go to for davening. It an issue of where the membership wants to place emphasis.

    1. Many older Shuls were not built on a foundation of growth, and it’s hard to change a foundation.

      Over the years our Shul has evolved from primarily a davening and social center to primarily a learning and growth center. But as we changed there were people who objected to the fact that the Shul was turning into a “Beis Medrash”. I think people now see that you can have it all: davening, social, learning, chesed and growth, but the foundation needs to be learning and growth.

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