I don't know if I mentioned that I joined a new synagogue, Gates Synagogue. For those of you who have been following, this is the third temple I've belonged to since moving to New York. Although I liked my last synagogue, it was on the other side of town and it was Conservative, both minuses in my book. I've been going to this new place on and off for different holidays and some Shabbats for almost two years and I decided to formally switch right before the holidays. I do have an aversion to change, but some change is good.
Apparently, this new place has Mitzvah Sunday twice a year and yesterday was the fall day. There were ten available activities, including knitting blankets to give to teens in treatment centers, visiting with seniors, and feeding the homeless. I went with the team who planted tulip and daffodil bulbs in Marcus Garvey Park. I also brought my tzedakah box money over to give to Magen David Adom, which they recommended. They are doing a Channukah Soldier Drive for our soldiers at war, but I didn't have time (read: forgot) to pick up anything for them. The drive isn't over for awhile though, so I still have time.
Marcus Garvey Park is in Harlem and contains the highest point of natural elevation in all of Manhattan. You can read more about it here. We were planting on the slope of one of the hills. It was a little difficult because there was broken glass everywhere so you couldn't put your knees down. We ended up picking up a lot of the glass (and a couple of syringes) and other detrius. I'm glad I was wearing gloves (provided by The Parks Department.)
I had a good time and met some new people, which is really good because it is very intimidating going to services where you don't know anyone. Gates Synagogue is a friendly place, and the president and rabbis say hi to everyone and they have greeters, but that's not really the same thing as knowing people. I've actually been going enough now that I have people to talk to at the oneg, but the first several weeks were killer. And that's sheer willpower, baby, because I had to go up and -gulp!- introduce myself to people I don't know. So it was a contest, see? Would I stop going to services because I was so unnerved by the fact that I would have to face oneg alone or would I go regularly enough to see the same people over and over again and, at some point, maybe introduce myself, too. And it isn't like you can just have a good week where you go every day and it's done. You then know people after seven days. No, this is a long-term commitment. Minimum a month, certainly more than that before you can outline the beginning of an acquaintanceship. And it goes from there.
Meanwhile, this is a big congregation. Something like 1400 or 1500 families. There are at least three rabbis. I think there are actually four. They don't all act as rabbis. I don't mean they act like clowns, I mean that they have some other function in the synagogue like B'nai Mitzvah coordinator. I know I read up on it before I became a member, but the information is just gone out of my head. Poof.
Anyway, the big news is that MomGiraffe and DadGiraffe are coming to Nueva York tomorrow. They'll be with us almost a week and get to see Sunflower again. I think I'm going to start calling Sunflower "Sunny." Comments? Opinions? Discuss.