May 2017 Message from Rabbi Arnow

Beginnings and Endings

Kol Rinah is embarking on a major change—a change of buildings. By the time you read this, we will have already closed on the purchase of our new home at 7701 Maryland Avenue, and the sale of our current home, the former Shaare Zedek building at 829 North Hanley Road.

Some of us are feeling energized, hopeful and joyful about our move. This makes sense to me. We have a tremendously exciting project ahead of us, with lots of work ahead of us too, but also so many opportunities to engage our membership, and the wider community. There is real excitement from the St. Louis Jewish community about our move, and I hear it almost every day. We will be in a fresh home for us, in a new neighborhood for us, with a chance to reinvent the ways we operate and do things. We are poised to have a bright future, and I am honored, humbled, and energized to be your rabbi during this exciting time.

Some of us are feeling sad and anxious about our move. This makes sense to me too. We are leaving a sacred space and building that have been a good Jewish home for some of us for sixty years. There is a real sense of loss associated with a congregation leaving its longtime building. Many of us experienced, and still feel, that sense of loss at the various stages of leaving and sale of the BSKI building. And we feel nervous, wondering how a new location and space will force us to change in different ways, and if we will be able to afford to do all that we need, and want.

Some of us are feeling both of these sets of feelings, because these two sets of feelings are not mutually exclusive. I feel both of these sets of emotions, myself. We can and so often do hold in ourselves at the same time different, and even conflicting, emotions. As a congregation, we need to attend to both of these sets of feelings, and we will.

I have always said that I would rather have congregants who care deeply—even if they disagree with each other—than congregants who don’t care. These past months and years of being your rabbi have convinced me this is a community of people who care. Our future is strong; I know we all want what is best for Kol Rinah.

Here is a bit of what you can expect over the next few months:

  • We will share exciting news as we have it about schedules and designs and plans in weekly Facilities updates.
  • We’ll ask for your help in making this move a success, and we’ll thank and acknowledge those who help to make it possible.
  • We’ll try to publicize our move, to generate excitement and energy around it, to capitalize on the moment and harness the momentum to attract new members and reengage long-time members.
  • We will also mark the moments of transition, of leaving the sanctuary, and of leaving this building. The history here deserves our respect, and all of us who have history here need to have the space to grieve this ending.

Here is what I ask of you: over the coming weeks, and months, and years, please tell me how you are feeling. I want to know how you, personally, are feeling about the changes and transition at Kol Rinah. Please share your feelings with me, Randi Mozenter, Sherri Sadon, and others. Please, if you are feeling frustrated or worried or upset, come to us.

Also, I ask you to be kind and patient with each other, and especially with those whose feelings you don’t understand, and those who don’t understand your feelings. Do try to be attentive, curious and sensitive to how others are managing through this time.

The transitional time while we are living in a building no longer our own, before we move into our new building, will be challenging, as we figure out new systems, as we are forced to innovate and do things differently than we are used to doing them. This can be disruptive, disconcerting, and dislocating. It can also be generative, creative, and exciting. The truth is, this “neutral zone” time will probably be all of those things.

Before we know it, we will be moving into our new, shared home, strengthened by the process of sharing wistful endings and promising new beginnings together.   I can’t wait!