You're Invited to Engage In Engage!

by Liz Palmer, originally published on TC Jewfolk

As I sit in the interim director seat at Talmud Torah of St Paul, TTSP, I re-read our mission statement daily: “To create life-long Jewish learners, passionate about Jewish tradition, committed to Jewish community and devoted to the well-being of all people.” That is a tall order! How to do it is the question we must keep asking as an organization. How to do it today, in the times we are currently living in as we tend to collective fear, sorrow, complexity, and disconnectedness is even more of a challenge.

I ask myself how can I do this? I am not Jewish. I’m not even from here. But to be fair, I know some bits and pieces about Jewish tradition from being a JCC camp counselor for most of my teens and being invited into family life as a babysitter. I can sing a good Hebrew Camp song alongside the best of them. I can make challah and even recite the Hamotzi over it. I have been graced by friendships within the Jewish community and have studied some of the core values. I am an ally, so I humbly try to do that: to support our mission’s tall order.

I get to do it with the staff at TTSP as I support programming, as I amplify the stories and voices of our incredible leaders, as I serve the goals of our board of directors, as I keep the back of the house operating smoothly and spiffy up the front of the house for company. Today, I am doing it by sending out a personal invitation.

TTSP invites you into one of our carefully curated spaces, Engage! TTSP’s Director of Hineni, Rabbi Debra Rappaport, is inviting “everyone across all denominations, from every stage of life, at any level of education, living in any part of the Twin Cities Metro to lean into community as we celebrate Jewish learning and life. It’s a time to relax, learn and visit together. It’s a time to cultivate resilience and relationships that can support us in living up to and into the times we live in.” She, along with community members and an incredible partnership with the JCC, has planned an afternoon that will challenge the mind, inspire the imagination, and touch the soul … that is what Hineni is all about.

Humans crave a sense of belonging. Faith, tradition, creative expression, and shared meaning all feed this deep longing to feel seen, known connected within a culture: Engage will scratch this itch! Hineni invites participants to inhabit a space where they can say: I am present. I am here. I am ready. That is all that is asked of each of you as you join us for Minnesota JCC’s annual community-wide celebration of Jewish learning and life Engage! 2024, Sunday, February 25 at The J’s Capp Center in St Paul.

Songs come into my head all day long. I don’t tell most people what my own internal playlist is projecting in my brain, but I am going to get goofy with y’all today. The Hokey Pokey is blasting as I think about what I see happening at Engage – You put your whole self in, you put your whole self out, you put your whole self in and you shake it all about….you do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around…that’s what it’s all about! Hopefully, you are singing with me now and entering the spirit of what we want to offer you.

In New Orleans, we would say bring your mom an ‘em! Come on down to The J, bring your mama, your kids, your neighbor, your friends or just bring yourself and get ready to put your whole self in and shake it all about. I know it will do you good. It will do us all good. Consider yourselves invited!

This is the moment that you are craving! Register today. You’ll be glad that you did.