Last year, I wrote about my hesitation to commit to joining a temple, but now, just a bit more than 6 months later, I can already say I’m really happy I did. Since joining, my husband and I have only gone to services on a few occasions–mostly because we’re not really able to go unless there’s a tot program, which only happens once a month and didn’t happen over the summer–but we’ve already experienced the many benefits of officially being part of a Jewish community. Here are some of the reasons I’m so grateful we joined when we did.
1. I’ve met new people through the temple, including fellow local mom friends.
Now that I’m home with newborns plus a toddler, I’m realizing how important it is to not only have mom friends, but mom friends nearby. Thanks to my temple, I’ve gotten to meet several nice people whose children are close enough in age to mine that play dates are not only fun for the grown-ups, but for the kiddies as well.
2. I received tons of support from the temple during my first few post-pregnancy weeks.
When I brought home my newborn twins back in January, the temple provided an incredible amount of support. The rabbi was kind enough to organize a meal train so that I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking during those first few weeks, and the temple members were kind enough to sign up so that we were completely covered throughout that initial stretch. Some of those who took time out of their lives to cook and deliver food were people I either hadn’t met, or had maybe been introduced to once or twice in passing.
I was totally amazed that virtual strangers would do something like that for me, but apparently, as I’ve been told, being on both the giving and receiving end of this sort of thing is a standard part of belonging to the temple. And it wasn’t just food–several members volunteered to help shuttle my son back and forth from preschool, others offered babysitting services so I could run errands if needed, and the temple sisterhood sent a beautiful gift.
3. I’ve become a more active participant in Jewish programming.
Being a temple member has motivated me to participate in programs and events that I probably would’ve otherwise skipped. This past December, when I was a huge, pregnant mess, I didn’t get out very much on weekends unless I absolutely needed to–yet I pushed myself to take my son to Tot Shabbat and the temple’s Chanukah program that month. It was easier to overcome my lethargy knowing we’d be going to a place where the people knew us and would be happy to see us.
4. I feel like I’m part of a community at a time when my growing family needs it the most.
Before we had kids, my husband and I rarely set foot in temple and even openly discussed the fact that we didn’t feel we needed it so much when it was just us. But since having children, we’ve come to realize the importance of being part of a Jewish community. I’m grateful to belong to a temple that will nurture my toddler’s love of Jewish tradition and welcome my daughters to the world of Judaism with open arms. And being a member makes me feel accountable–to the temple as well as my children–for making Judaism a focal point both inside and outside our household. Joining really was the push I needed to rethink my priorities, and I’m happy to say I’m finally getting back on track.