Shedding New Light on Jewish Traditions

Lani Moss Story


Lani Moss’s Story

So much of my Or Hadash story has to do with making connections. When Hal and I first walked into the Shabbat services being held at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College one spring Friday evening in 1984, we were approached by one of the four student rabbis and asked if we would like to take a reading in order to participate in the service. In that instant of connection, we were hooked. During the last twenty-nine years, I have come to know so many fellow congregants and many of them have become dear friends and my family of choice. We have celebrated together. They have comforted me when I lost each of my parents and Hal’s parents. They have shown up for important events in my life.

One thing I have come to realize is that we may not be able to predict the future of the Jewish people in America. As leaders of our congregation, we may not know exactly how to respond to the demographic trends. But what we all know, every one of us, is that we are here for those moments of connection. The cumulative impact of all of this binds us together into a meaningful whole.

During my tenure as President, in an effort to solidify that “whole,” I have worked with the understanding that building a strong relationship with the members of the community that I serve can, hopefully, enhance their experience at Or Hadash, just like it enhances mine. I believe that there is a deep connection between those providing a service and those who are being served. In a speech, former President Bill Clinton wove together a common thread, the importance of community. Clinton stressed the fact that, “Our common humanity is more important than our differences.” “If you see everyone,” he continued, “if you believe that you are because others are, if you serve in that spirit, then your grandchildren will be able to be here fifty years from now, and it will be better for them because you would have fulfilled humanity’s first obligation; to honor what is holy about us, turn around, and pass it on.”

Clinton’s words speak to me because I believe that you can build community one person, one interaction at a time. If we really take the time to “see” people for who they are and value each individual, balanced with the needs of the community, then we can move forward to a stronger congregation. It is my hope for our community that our connectedness will propel us forward into our next 30 years.