JCamps, Generations Strengthen Austin Kehillah
During my seventh year of the rabbinate, I decided it was time to explore the next steps in my career. Passionate about Jewish continuity and pluralistic Jewish experiences, I concentrated my search on finding a position where I could channel my passion. Even more important, with a family of five, we wanted to find a place that had a warm and welcoming Jewish community.
When the Texas Hillel executive director position opened, it definitely fit my career needs. But we needed to explore whether or not this would be a place where community building was at the center of the community itself. From all of my visits, the greater Austin Jewish community seemed like the perfect fit. People were so warm and welcoming to our family as we planned our transition from Seattle to Austin.
After arriving, our kids began camp at the Early Childhood Program Camp Gan Kef and Camp Shalom. Because it was a new community, our children were very nervous, especially our middle child who refused to let us leave the classroom. The teachers in the classroom immediately took his hand and showed the type of care and love that we had hoped for when we decided to move.
It was just one act that exemplifies the type of community that we are.
Last month, we explored the first of five Jewish values that guide our organization. This month I focus on our second, kehillah, or community. Our family’s experience of the type of beautiful kehillah that we are is just one story of many in our community.
As you will read in this issue, JCamps are up and running on our campus, and many of our youth are also attending overnight camps Greene Family Camp, Camp Young Judaea and other Jewish camps throughout America. Our children greatly benefit from the opportunity to attend Jewish camp where they are part of a sacred community, creating lifelong friendships and memories in an immersive Jewish environment.
Generations, our capital campaign to enhance our campus, is entirely focused on providing the physical resources to build upon and grow our sacred community. As you will see, more than 550 community members are supporting Generations to create the type of sacred experiences and kehillah we want for this generation and many more. If you have not had the opportunity to participate, I strongly encourage you to join us in building a stronger kehillah for our community.
As we approach the middle of summer, take a moment to reflect on our beautiful kehillah and how you can participate in ways to enhance it. I am thankful to this kehillah, the greater Austin Jewish community, for the foundation that was set before we came and for the ability to participate in such a warm and welcoming community.
– Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus