Starting Services at 9:31
Jill Levy is an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program. Jill is a fifth year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. She can be reached at email@example.com.
I had the privilege of serving as the Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Intern this year at the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation. In recent years, the synagogue has experienced diminished membership due to budgetary and other issues. The current members see themselves as a family who hopes to grow.
During my last visit, I noticed a young couple who was new to the synagogue. In my haste to get started, I decided that I would say hello to them after services were over. I never got that chance. They were out the door before the Torah service. I never learned their names, I did not find out what brought them to the shul, or discovered what they were looking for in a synagogue.
I know that speaking to them before services may not have prevented their early departure. At the same time, I am sad that I never had the chance to connect to them. My leadership lesson was that when you have an opportunity to engage in the mitzvah of hacnasat orchim (welcoming guests) you should act on it, even if it might mean starting at 9:31.