The Optimistic Geniza


     “The Geniza looks half full!”  I overheard the shout from one of the hundred children as they walked by the Geniza that was dug to celebrate the Temple Beth Israel Centennial.  Each child was given the chance to offer a book into the Geniza.  Our entire community was welcome to contribute to the Geniza.

The hole for the Geniza felt enormous.  It was over 7.5 feet deep and was meant to respectfully bury the hundreds of copies of Gates of Repentance which our congregation was no longer going to use.  This, our Centennial year, we are moving to the new Mishkan HaNefesh books and needed to find a way to mark time, to create a moment of transition from one era to the next.  A Geniza is a ceremony which enables us to both say goodbye, but also to honor these books which have been parts of our lives for so long.  They saw my family through the first Rosh Hashanah service that our 10 day old daughter attended with us.  They saw us through the first Yom Kippur when Jeff’s mom wasn’t sitting next to us.

The Geniza being “half-full” was a wonderful thought towards our Centennial celebration.  While others may have said “half empty”, this child said something that I hope we all remember with the new year.  Viewing the hole as half-full implies two things.  First, that there is so much that has gone into that hole.  Much like Temple Beth Israel’s rich history, which Michael Lorge so poignantly reminded us of when he told the story of the Torah scroll to be buried, there is so much that has carried us to this point.  Secondly, that there is further to go; there is more to do.  The hole is not yet full.

May your new year be like our Geniza and the next hundred years of TBI – “half full”.  May it give you the opportunity to reflect, and also the opportunity to continue to fill it with peace, forgiveness, and prosperity.

L’shana Tova.

Submitted by

Amber Wood

#TBISkokie     #TBICentennial

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