by Rabbi Joshua Brumbach
This past February, Ahavat Zion celebrated its 40th anniversary with a special gala dinner featuring special guests, joyous music and historical trivia and insights into the congregation’s past forty years. This momentous occasion brought together current and past members, as well as other special guests, for an evening of recollection, celebration and vision casting toward the future. The event also turned out to be an excellent opportunity for outreach as there were many Jewish friends, family and colleagues present who were introduced to the community for the first time. Many people expressed an interest in finding our more about our congregation and a few people have already become actively involved.
Our special honored guests included the founders of the congregation, Dr. Ray and Kassiani Gannon, and former leaders Rabbi Barry Budoff and Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann. We also had special music featuring Messianic Jewish recording artists Britta K, Sally Klein O’Connor and Misha Goetz.
The occasion clearly embodied the MJRC’s vision of a vibrant form of Messianic Judaism that is “rooted in Torah, instructed by Tradition, and faithful to Messiah Yeshua in the twenty-first century.”
Ahavat Zion Messianic Synagogue was originally founded in 1973 under the name Beth Emmanuel. However, in 1978 the congregation reincorporated and changed its name to Ahavat Zion. As the oldest Messianic congregation on the West Coast, and one of the seven oldest in the entire country, Ahavat Zion has been at the forefront of the Messianic Jewish movement, serving as a flagship congregation, a think-tank for innovative ideas and services, and a spiritual home for those who are Jewish or intermarried.
It has now been a few months since the 40th Anniversary Celebration and I continue to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback … from the warmth and friendliness of the evening to how nice it was to especially recognize the contributions of significant members throughout the congregation’s history. This was definitely a significant milestone I will never forget.
Here’s the Recipe
Special events and celebrations are extremely important in helping shape and direct the vision of a community. Therefore, careful thought should go into the details to help ensure that the event not only brings people together, but is focused on relationships with one another and with the wider community, and in some way reinforces the vision of the congregation. For example, Ahavat Zion’s 40th anniversary brought people together for a joyous and momentous occasion. However, it also served to reinforce the vision of the congregation to its current members, and served as a vehicle to reach out to others who are not yet involved in some way. Such reinforce our commitment to being a vibrant Messianic Jewish congregation that embodies and reflects a contemporary Jewish experience of Yeshua and a Messianic interpretation of Judaism.
So if you have an upcoming event planned, or are considering hosting an event, here are some ideas to consider that will help make your event even better:
I firmly believe that intentional, relationship-focused activities will strengthen your congregation or organization and help it grow beyond its current limitations and challenges. It may not be the only ingredient for building healthy communities, but it surely is an invaluable addition to any proven recipe.