Is the synagogue half empty or half full?
These days, that’s probably a really good question to ask. On the “half empty” side, Rabbi Kroll retired in December after nearly 40 years at the helm, and even though the transition was planned for more than a year, finding a replacement will still be a difficult task. We also experienced the recent hate crime against our building, which we are still struggling to understand. If you add these events to the complexity of running a synagogue in a busy urban location, the picture might seem a little bleak.
But as the new president of Chicago Loop Synagogue, that is not the picture I see at all. I see the synagogue as “half full” – more than half full, actually – for many reasons.
First, attendance at our three-times-a-day minyanim has never been higher. We are one of the few Jewish institutions in the country that offers this opportunity for prayer, and we are so proud that people from all over the world join us in worship every day.
Our response to the hate crime, the Interfaith Rally Against Hate, had almost 1,000 attendees. People streamed into our building during their lunch hour. We had very impressive media coverage, and the general outpouring of support was overwhelming. We posted some of the cards and letters we received on our front windows. Passersby stop to read them and take pictures, and we encourage everyone to stop by and check them out as well.
We are beginning to add new programming to our activities. Our recent Tu b’Shevat dinner was an unqualified success, attracting children as well as adults. The sound of conversation and laughter coming from our social hall was an absolute joy to behold, and we look forward to a special Purim party on March 12.
Watch your inbox for details – and if we don’t have your email, now is the time to get on our list. All these accomplishments are certainly gratifying, but the most important accomplishment is yet to come. I look forward to the day when everyone in the Loop neighborhood, whether they work or live in our vicinity, considers Chicago Loop Synagogue their spiritual home. To reach this goal, we will have to work together, share ideas and get involved – and I know it can be done.
I am completely convinced that our synagogue is not half empty, but is at least half full. With everyone’s help, we will be full to overflowing, and when that happens, I look forward to sharing the good news with you as well. Until then, best wishes for a safe, healthy and happy Purim and Passover season.