Shir Tikvah Members Reboot for the Years Ahead

The Lynhurst synagogue is pausing to consider their vision for the future, which may or may not include the first lesbian, Jewish president of the United States.

Close your eyes and imagine it—it’s 2025, and the first lesbian, Jewish president of the United States has come to Lynhurst’s to speak, thanking the assembled multitude for providing the spiritual bedrock on which she built her life.

At least that’s how some members of the synagogue, only with some exaggeration, imagined the future of the organization. In a giant brainstorming session spanning last Friday night and much of Saturday, members hoped to produce a rough outline of where to take their community over the next 13 years.

“It feels great to be practicing crisis avoidance," said Luke Weisberg, a member of the synagogue’s board.

Any outsider listening in would have been impressed by the prosaic nature of many congregants’ concern—adding an elevator to the building, securing the synagogue’s financial stability, helping an aging congregation. At the same time, these concerns were dynamic and energetic, with many envisioning a future where the temple is an anchor for a revival of a liberal religious politics in Minnesota and beyond—not to mention the emergence of a future president from their ranks.

“People here share a great commitment to radical inclusion and to living our Judaism in the world," Rabbi Michael Adam Latz said of the . "I think that people are usually members here with great intention.”

Crisis or no crisis, Latz, Weisberg and other members of Shir Tikvah’s leadership do see challenges on the horizon.

“Globally, people’s understanding of and interaction with religious communities are changing,” said Rabbi Latz. “Particularly on the coasts, you see the rise of these independent prayer groups called minyinim, who aren’t affiliated with a particular institution.”

“There’s a pretty big 'indie Jew' group in the Twin Cities,” Weisberg added, saying the minyinim phenomenon wasn’t a complete anomaly.

Even Shir Tikvah has small groups of congregants—havurot—who often meet separately for a shabat dinner or a service. Weisberg said many havurot members occasionally seek a more intimate worship experience or want to share other common interests, such as activism around a particular cause.

“We’re not in competition with these new forms of Jewish expression,” Rabbi Latz said. “I see (the minyinim) as a response to a desire to own their Jewish identities and Jewish practice and to be engaged by their religious communities. I think we do that well, but we should always ask ourselves how we can do it better.”


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