The Centrality of Connection

The People Connection
As we mentioned previously the Growth Culture Shul consciously works on creating an environment where people have growth opportunities in the domains of Torah, Davening and Chesed. I’m using Chesed in the broader sense of connecting to people in meaningful ways which can take many forms.

The Happiness Connection
In models of pleasure, emotional pleasure is usually pegged higher than physical pleasure. The main source of emotional pleasure is our relationships to our spouses, children, extended family and friends. A greater goal than pleasure is happiness. I like Harvard’s happiness expert Tal Ben Shahar’s ,Torah-consistent definition : “Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning”. Our relationships will bring us the most joy and connection when they are filled with meaning, preferably spiritually oriented.

The Shul Connection
The Growth Culture Shul is a place where deeper relationships are nurtured by sharing meaningful time with our friends. A Shul that provides a place for a serious davening ensures a shared meaningful experience among members on a weekly and daily basis. In the upcoming weeks we’ll highlight other activities that lead to meaningful connections, but while it’s fresh in our mind, let’s take a look at Shavuos.

The Shavous Connection
Shavuos provides an amazing yearly opportunity for a meaningful shared spiritual experience. We can discuss the effect of staying up all night on our davening, but when we learn Torah all night with our friends it has a fantastic effect. We are sharing our belief in the centrality of Torah in our life and that forms a deep shared connection with our fellow members. Although the OU WINGS “Best Practices Shavuot” document lists activities such as “Family Feud Game Show” and “Cheesecake bakeoff “, I think they would agree that you should try to make your Shavuos activities as spiritually meaningful as possible for your shul.

Providing opportunities for people to develop meaningful connections is foundation of a Growth Culture Shul. It goes way beyond being social and we’ll explore more ways to implement this in the coming weeks.