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Neil Heller, Congregant Story 5779

Communities are like highly complex jigsaw puzzles, with big and small pieces, rounded and straight edged pieces, and bright and shiny colored pieces. Just when you think you’ve figured out your puzzle, you discover a new piece and have to find a place to fit it in.

 If you think of our community as an […]

Communities are like highly complex jigsaw puzzles, with big and small pieces, rounded and straight edged pieces, and bright and shiny colored pieces. Just when you think you’ve figured out your puzzle, you discover a new piece and have to find a place to fit it in.



If you think of our community as an ultra-complex puzzle, you could consider the pieces to be ways of participating and expressing values, interests, laughter, sorrow, hope, programming, family, and friends. And, no one piece is like any other.



Looking back, when Debbie and I joined PTS, our puzzle had just a few pieces, the most notable – our then two-year-old son Sam. Initially, we were looking to connect Jewishly with young families. We enrolled in Family School, a family-based alternative to Sunday School. As I became more comfortable with the community, I found ways to make more pieces.



Along with our Family School friends, many of whom are sitting with us here today, I joined various committees. While working on the Capital Campaign to redevelop our current facility, I became interested in improving our Temple’s operations, I attended our leadership development program and was asked to serve on Rabbi Rasikin’s Rabbinic transition planning committee. Eventually, I served on the Board becoming part of the budget and personnel committees.



What I enjoyed most was discovering how my contributions complemented the rest of the community and how I found ways to contribute and align my pieces, with everyone else’s pieces. Sometimes the fit was perfect, and other times, we had to work to make a straight edge piece fit with a rounded edge piece.



Then work got busy, the kids’ activities became more demanding, and my PTS puzzle piece production declined.



Some of our PTS master puzzle makers must have noticed this decline. I was asked to serve on the Cantorial Search Committee, ultimately resulting in our welcoming Cantor Fox to our community. Much to my delight, being part of a dynamic engaged group help me reconnect with our congregation.



As I continue to add pieces, building and connecting with our community, my PTS puzzle will grow. In the new year and the future, shanah l’shana, each year leading to the next, I hope we will have the opportunity to build our puzzles and community together.



L’shanah Tovah U’Metukah!!