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How Cake Helps You Make Friends

How Cake Helps You Make Friends


As some of you know, I had minor surgery in late June on my ear drum. Not a big deal – I was out of the hospital within a few hours and had to rest for about two weeks. As of this writing, it’s not yet clear whether it “worked” – that is, whether I’ll get my hearing back in my left ear. But what is clear to me is the warmth of our community. I have so appreciated hearing from members of the congregation checking in, asking what I need, and offering support.


That’s really what Judaism is all about.


Rabbi Ron Wolfson argues in his book Relational Judaism that our religious lives (and indeed, our lives) are centred, surprisingly, not as much around ritual or life cycle as around relationships. Many of us come to a synagogue seeking a Hebrew School, a wedding, a conversion, or some other momentary need. But if we are to stay at that synagogue for the long term, it will be because of the relationships we have built there.


This is not to discount the importance of ritual, learning and life cycle, which are absolutely crucial to Jewish life. As a synagogue, we build our lives – and our relationships – around sharing Jewish experiences with one another. We pray together, or sit beside each other at Torah study, or share recipes at Rock Shabbat… and in so doing, we are building our connections not only to God (in whatever form we conceive God), but also to one another.


There is ample evidence in traditional Jewish thinking that relationships are central to Jewish life. First, the traditional Hebrew word for synagogue is Beit K’nesset, which means “gathering place.” And throughout history, many synagogues have referred to themselves as Kehilah Kedoshah, or “holy community.” That’s the way I like to think of Kol Ami as well: as a Holy Congregation.


Like any other, our Holy Community is made up of people who do things for each other. At Kol Ami, we have a number of groups dedicated to doing this in different ways.


Mitzvah Bakers, who bake desserts for B’nai Mitzvah celebrations.

Minyanaires, who attend shiva (just attend, not leading) when members lose loved ones.

The Chesed Committee, who lead shiva services, visit the sick, and prepare the occasional meal.

Our Kol Ami Choir sings at Shabbat and High Holy Day services

Our house band Shtyx rocks the house at Rock Shabbat


Some of these may seem like little things – a cake or a half-hour visit – but they make a big difference in people’s lives.


If you are available to share your time and talent in any of these ways, please contact me. Kol Ami is stronger because of what we all bring to it.



Rabbi Micah Streiffer



Sun, February 5 2023 14 Sh'vat 5783