Welcoming is Not Only a Jewish Thing: We Are Obligated to Do It

By Catherine Fischer, Director of Programming and Membership

The Torah, our Jewish guide to living, teaches over and over again, more times than any other mitzvah (commandment), that we are supposed to welcome the stranger (aka a person whom we do not know).  Being welcoming, showing compassion and doing acts of loving kindness are just some of the mitzvot that Jews are instructed to adhere to.

Congregation Rodeph Shalom works hard to live up to our obligation.  Our rabbis, staff, president, lay leadership and every congregant of RS share in this responsibility.  We work together to assess and reassess our efforts so that everyone who walks through our doors is personally welcomed.  Our goal is that no one will ever come into this building and leave unnoticed and unappreciated.

As the High Holy Days approach, we carry our welcome with us.  Many are used to buying High Holy Day tickets to attend services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  At Rodeph Shalom, we try to distill the notion of purchasing tickets as we don’t see that as the role of a synagogue.  Rather, we invite our prospective members to come as our guests and become acquainted with our community.  We hope that once they have a chance to get to know us and begin building relationships and memories here, they will want to be part of our community.  Being part of a community is analogous to being part of a family.  A family does not purchase tickets to attend Thanksgiving; however, there is a healthy give and take and a sense of responsibility that one has for another. 

Congregation Rodeph Shalom just received the prestigious honor of winning a Belin Award from the Union for Reform Judaism for a program our Membership Committee created called the Open Tent Initiative.  The program lists 5 easy ways every member can welcome our friends and new comers.  We know that through this program our entire community will continue to take responsibility for welcoming and reaching out to others.

To learn more about our congregation, contact Catherine Fischer at 215-627-6747 x46 or cfischer@rodephshalom.org

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