It has been many years since we have been affiliated with any religious organization. Here in Arizona, though, we have found a community that is like no other. It is a small, growing community, having recently celebrated its first birthday. But whereas most synagogues/temples can be classified as Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, etc., Kehillah of Arizona defies description. Kehillah, in Hebrew, means community and Kehillah of Arizona is made up of the most extraordinarily warm, wonderful, talented, caring group of people. Led by our Rabbi Bonnie, a passionate, intelligent, spirited dynamo, our services encompass many features of all the branches of Judaism.
What was most extraordinary were our High Holy Day services. The machzors (holiday prayerbooks), written and compiled by Rabbi Bonnie, contained a treasury of prayers and teachings from every facet of Judaism and world views. The language was contemporary and meaningful to our lives now without taking away from the wise and profound lessons of the past. The Yom Kippur Haftorah was sung to original music by our magnificent choir. The choir sang much of the service to original music with the congregation joining in. Their voices must have been touched by G-d. Honors were given to as many different people as possible. Readings were shared by most of the congregation.
And just near the end of the Neilah service, while the Ark was open, the Rabbi asked anyone who wished to come up to stand in front of the Ark and offer a personal prayer, to do so. A long line formed and people went up singly or in couples or families, covered their heads with prayer shawls and offered their prayers while the Rabbi davened (prayed) quietly. We had never seen this or been offered such a chance and were quite overwhelmed by the graciousness and opportunity this presented.
To say that this year's High Holiday services touched us is the understatement of the year. We have found a Jewish 'home' with Kehillah, one which beckons with open arms, kind and generous hearts, warm smiles, and where there are many opportunities to practice Kehillah's core values. Thank you, Rabbi Bonnie and Kehillah friends for showing us a way back home.