Four years ago, when our daughter was 2 years old, we enrolled her at PTS’s preschool. We liked the curriculum, facilities, and Director Allison’s approachability. The Jewish piece was also a great bonus.
We were then members of another reform Peninsula congregation, enjoying kids’ services and making new friends. People asked us how it felt being connected to two synagogues. Fine, we said, figuring that, once Rachel finished school, we would return to our “home” congregation further south.
Like many families with young children, we got involved in the school hoping to meet other parents and kids and find “community”. I helped with school activities and in the classroom, and attended the preschool’s weekly Shabbat and Havdalah services. We became friendly with classmates and got to know the school staff and clergy. In our daughter’s final year, I joined the Parent-Teacher Organization Board. Not surprisingly, as I worked alongside an amazing group of moms, my feeling of connection to the school grew.
What I hadn’t expected was that my sense of belonging and connection to the larger PTS family would also grow. It grew out of the many ways, often simple and small, that we have been told that we are welcome and that we belong. When Rabbi Feder addressed our daughter by name at school, I saw how our clergy value knowing each of us as an individual. When I was checking out Sholom Women, a new friend and congregant offered to accompany me; I was grateful and saw clearly how members care for one another. When Rabbi Delson asked my family to light the candles at our first Shabbat service as members just over a year ago, I felt included and saw how PTS embraces its members. When we ate, played games, sang songs, and worshipped together with other temple families at the congregational retreat earlier this year, I knew more than ever that we truly belonged.
We came for the school, but found so much more — a deep sense of connectedness to the people, clergy and leaders of this community – our home away from home.