The past year of celebration in honor of Park Synagogues’ 150th anniversary that paid homage to the shul’s history is coming to a close with a program looking toward its future.
In its crowning event commemorating its anniversary, the synagogue is holding “An Evening of Celebrations Featuring a Taste of Park’s Chefs” at 5 p.m. June 23 at Park Synagogue Main in Cleveland Heights. Cocktails and dinner will take place before the program, titled “Inspiring the Future,” which will be followed by a dessert and congregational hora. Food will be provided by Cafe 56, Bonnie Davis, fire food and drink and Executive Caterers.
Looking back on the year of events, Senior Rabbi Joshua Skoff said the congregation took time to reflect on the accomplishments from prior generations.
“It made us pause in a serious way,” he said. “However, we took as our tagline ‘Inspiring the Future’ because we’re really not simply mired in the past or studying the synagogue as a history lesson or a museum piece, but rather we are actively planning to build in the past to inspire an even better future.”
The year included something for everyone, said Associate Rabbi Sharon Young Marcus. There was a Purim festival and a Park150 birthday party geared toward younger families, a speaking appearance with journalist and CNN political analyst David Gregory was held for members interested in scholarly ideas and a cantors’ concert for arts enthusiasts.
“I think (members) felt an ownership. Everyone is part of it. Everyone is a piece of it. Everyone was included,” Marcus said. “They all found their connection. ... Everyone felt a part of the 150th celebration, a part of the congregation, like a vital piece of it.”
Participation wasn’t limited to just attending the events, there was active participation from members and lay leaders to hold the events as well.
“There’s a very big committee working on this and they got a lot of people involved,” Marcus said. “I think those people felt very invested – the people who took leadership.”
The synagogue is in the midst of a study of its buildings in Cleveland Heights and Pepper Pike and what their futures hold. In doing so, a survey was sent to congregants to find out what their take on the matter was. That feeling of ownership and being part of the discussion is part of the message of Park, Skoff said.
“We involve people,” he said. “I don’t think we have the kind of red tape that is often associated with the stereotype of certain large synagogues. We have a large synagogue with a very small synagogue feel to it.”
The most important event of Park150 is Park at 151, said Skoff.
“In other words, we’re going to continue what we’re doing which is provide a needed sense of community life in a world that is often very divisive, a safe place for people to come and be themselves and also know they’re part of something larger,” he said.
The Cleveland Jewish News is the media partner of Park Synagogue’s 150th anniversary and will continue to share stories and images to commemorate the synagogue’s long-standing presence in our community during the synagogue’s yearlong celebration.