Maggidut in the ‘Cuse – the Details

Friday Evening

The weekend began at Syracuse University’s Hillel, where a small number of young leaders gathered to learn about the relationship between storytelling and leadership. Using the original Hillel as an exemplar, M’ Yitzhak took the group on a journey through both history and story to illuminate the additional responsibilities that fall upon leaders.

Next, we did some “service hopping,” moving from Conservative to Reform services (hosted simultaneously at Hillel), where M’ Yitzhak delivered d’vars that brought together the power of story and the season of Pesach. Next was dinner (no Hillel sandwiches served!), by which time March Madness overtook the students as they hurried out to watch the Orange play in the NCAAs on the big screen TV that had been conveniently turned on and tuned in prior to Shabbas.

From there we made our way down the two short blocks to Temple Concord, where services were just finishing. While the desserts and treats always make the Oneg sweet, this time it was made even sweeter by the stories, singing and humor offered by all three: M’ Yitzhak, M’ Uriel David, and Carole. People stayed late, but the evening always seemed young, and finally about 10pm we left to recharge for the next day.

Saturday

The morning started with a visit to Menorah Park, where Carole and I followed Cantor Moskowitz’s morning service with a few stories for the residents. There was a lot to learn in how to present effectively to people who are at the further extent of physical and mental challenges; the trick of pacing is one that needs to be finely-honed. Too fast and you lose them, likewise if it’s too slow. Our niggunim worked well, and our closing of Hinei MaTov deeply touched some in ways I never would have anticipated.

Next was Congregation Beth Sholom – Chevra Shas, where the three of us were warmly greeted by Rabbi Rachel Ain and a large group who had come to “nosh and learn.” The group was warm and vibrant, and packed the study area that had been set aside for us. M’Yitzhak’s stories were intermingled with subtle teachings, and both Carole and I had the opportunity to share our inspirational skills as well. It was hard to pull ourselves away, and the hour turned quickly into almost two. Then there was time for a brief respite before our next engagement.

A large turnout greeted us at The Oaks, a retirement community where we met our 104-year-old friend, and Carole was blessed with the chance to dance a sweet waltz with one of the residents. Again, the atmosphere was warm, sweet and hospitable, and promises of a return visit were extracted by many. One more brief respite was followed by a delicious havdalah, meal and personal exchanges as we and a few dear friends sustained each other for hours.

Sunday

Our final venue – with four programs! – was the Jewish Community Center of Syracuse. M’ Yitzhak and I had the pleasure of telling and teaching with a large group of adults, while Carole undertook the substantial task of telling to over a hundred young children and their teachers, some who came from as far as Watertown – 75 miles away! After the first hour we gathered together as one big mispochah, then “retired” to the lounge where we were joined by 40 teachers from four different Hebrew schools. In a dynamic question/answer session, M’Yitzhak spoke about the power of story as it relates to teaching, and the development of good storytelling skills.

In Summary…

Hundreds of participants… every synagogue and Jewish agency in Central New York supporting the weekend… a dozen different “events” in six different venues… and throughout it all, a raising of Spirit that must have been palpable from across the horizon…

Baruch HaShem, and thanks to all, and the All.

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