The Importance of Showing Up

This past weekend was a busy and beautiful one for the Kavana community. Dozens of you turned out to sing with musicians Joey Weisenberg, Deborah Sacks Mintz and Chava Mirel and with other members of the broader Seattle Jewish community; the harmonies and energy were electric! Three Kavana education programs -- Havdalah Club, Prep & Practice, and our High School Program -- met for the first time in this new cycle, each bringing old and new participants together with a great buzz. People are turning up in large numbers to re-engage and reconnect... and it sure feels great!

This past weekend was a busy and beautiful one for the Kavana community. Dozens of you turned out to sing with musicians Joey Weisenberg, Deborah Sacks Mintz and Chava Mirel and with other members of the broader Seattle Jewish community; the harmonies and energy were electric! Three Kavana education programs -- Havdalah Club, Prep & Practice, and our High School Program -- met for the first time in this new cycle, each bringing old and new participants together with a great buzz. People are turning up in large numbers to re-engage and reconnect... and it sure feels great!

Parashat Nitzavim, which we read this Shabbat in the lead-up to Rosh Hashanah, emphasizes the importance of showing up. The opening verses, Deuteronomy 29:9-11, read:

"You stand this day, all of you, before Adonai your God —your tribal heads, your elders, and your officials, every householder in Israel, your children, your wives, even the stranger within your camp, from woodchopper to waterdrawer—to enter into the covenant of Adonai your God..."

In Deuteronomy's recollection, everyone showed up at the mountain -- regardless of gender or generation, leadership status or role (even the woodchopper and the waterdrawer!); therefore, everyone is included in the covenant.

At Kavana too, we have always valued face-time... that is, people showing up in person and spending time together doing a range of activities (learning, praying, volunteering, socializing, supporting each other, etc.), in order to build authentic relationships and create a tightly-woven fabric of community. Our cooperative model is grounded in a belief that everyone's presence and participation really matters.

Without a doubt, the last few years of pandemic time have posed a great challenge, and we've had to get creative about redefining what it means to show up. As we enter this new Jewish year and new academic year, we are feeling this cycle's potential to feel more normal than last year or the previous one (fingers crossed!). This is translating into many more in-person opportunities to gather and celebrate together than we've had over the last couple of High Holiday seasons... and it seems that our community is ready for this, as hundreds of you have already registered to join us for the High Holidays. Of course, some Kavana folks aren't able or aren't ready to rejoin large in-person gatherings yet, and we are offering opportunities to join High Holiday services via Zoom as well... that absolutely also "counts" as showing up!

In any case, if you haven't registered yet, TODAY is your day... as with Parashat Nitzavim, we aspire to have our whole community stand together as we engage in the spiritual work of the season over Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. (And, we ask that you register by this evening, so that we can have name tags and materials ready for everyone who plans to attend!)

In this season of cycles, now is the perfect time... to be returning, renewing, recommitting, reengaging, reconnecting, and rekindling relationships! Please join us, and together we will make 5783 a year of sweetness and blessing, for each of us individually, for all of us as a community, and for the world.

Shana tova u'metukah - wishing us all a good and sweet New Year, as we stand to face it together,

Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum