This is a story about four people; Someone, Anyone, Everyone and No-one.
And a job; Anyone could do the job, as long as Someone did the job that was fine. But when Everyone was invited to do the job, No-one turned up.
I like that story. It seems very much about the life of a Synagogue. There is very little that only one person can do (and as I head off on sabbatical we are shortly to experience how much the Synagogue depends on its Rabbi!). But plenty that requires someone to put up their hand and show up. The great challenge, however is reaching beyond the non-descript open-to-all invitation to Everyone. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has a great line about the difference between a Rebbe and a Rabbi. The Rabbi speaks to 100 people and every congregant thinks the Rabbi means the person sat immediately to their left.
The Rebbe speaks to a 1,000 people and everyone knows the Rebbe means them. It's all too easy to generally ask for assistance and to have the general request disappear amongst the all the other requests that bombard our lives.
I think that is why I was so happy with our Rosh Chodesh Minyan this Wednesday. Around half our regular community were due to be away, so we made a general request for 'Everyone's' help. And there we were, at 7:15am quorate, davening, engaging and celebrating. It's lovely to have lots of people for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. But there are many ways to measure the strength of a community, and a good strong Rosh Chodesh Minyan is one of those I'll hold dear, perhaps even more dear than the number of Jews in the Pews for the biggest days (always the temptation of falling prey to matters of ego on that count). As the Talmud teaches, 'Ben Tadir v'Arai, Tadir Adif - between that which is ongoing and that which is occasional, that which is ongoing is preferable.'
So if you want to join us next month - Friday 13th November - do let me know. And did I mention the bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese (and there's whiskey too).