Our First Community Seder Gatherings

I have grown accustomed to hosting two community seder gatherings, so it was not a surprise when we decided to host one on both first and second night.  The real challenges were much more basic: How far could we get in finishing the floor and other needed improvements? AND – what about our kitchenette?  When we planned on doing both nights, we had planned that the California campus would be “ready” – but it was not.

In fact, it was just a couple weeks before over 100 guests would come through our doors…. and…..

So there was more to do than we could have imagined.

The screens were there, but in boxes.  The plumbing for the kitchenette and the lines for the stoves were there from before, but we had no stoves, no refrigerator, and no sink.  Once again, there was nothing that 5 years and $5 million could not fix, so the challenge was one of resourcefulness.

From the generosity of members came two used stoves (one in Stuart, one out Darwin Rd), and two refrigerators (one up Bayshore, one in King’s Isle).  Home depot had a great promotional sale on sinks, so we bought a nice one (which they delivered) and a cabinet in which to set it (which they did not deliver).  Getting the pieces-parts to the Temple was an interesting exercise.  We planned two times that had to be postponed as people’s schedules shifted and bumped.  We were then set for the third date – the Sunday before Pesach (Passover).  There would be 5 days to get everything in place and host the Seder gatherings.

OK, I recognized that was not going to be easy.  So I rationalized that we had done everything so far on that kind of crazy schedule.  This was one more case of it.  The truck was reserved, people were lined up to help.

At this point, the kitchen was still being used mostly as a storage/work center.  The plans of getting it organized had not happened.  Then came Sunday morning.

The truck was picked up and the first cancellation came through.  And there would be a delay on the second person due to a funeral meeting regarding a child.  Again, nothing that could be done to change that.  So Bill and I started making the rounds to pick up the pieces.  We went first to Stuart since it was the most distant.  The people at the house helped load the stove.  Then to Darwin for the second one.  Again the people at the house helped load.

Then we went to Home Depot and they loaded the cabinet.  We went to the Temple and off loaded these three items.  The “stuff” in the kitchen was shifted around and out into the lobby.  Time was essential here, so reorganizing would be later in the week……..

Then the delay turned into a cancellation and the other two helpers also had to cancel.  Bill and I looked at each other and armed with the appliance dolly, picked up the two refrigerators.  First King’s Isle, then up Bayshore for the second one.  Bill and I loaded them, being very grateful for the U-Haul ramp and dolly.  At the Temple, our neighbor from Milk N’Things helped unload them. Positioning the refrigerators and plugging them in to cool was a good thing.  They were not in their final location, but they were plugged in and purring.

The stoves, well, that was another story.  Their plugs did not match the plugs in the Temple.  Thank you to members and families of members – the plugs were switched out and everything in the kitchen was shifted to final homes.  The stoves worked, the refrigerators chilled, and the sink was also installed into the existing plumbing.  Amazingly, the kitchenette was functional by late Friday morning.

During the week, some other members came and organized the space, making it appear much more inviting to our members.  Tables were covered, more tables borrowed, chairs arranged, seating for 100 was nicely accommodated in the main room, with ample room for food at the rear of the room.

It was crazy and hectic, but it functioned as smoothly as it could have.  We started a few minutes late the first night, but thanks to our tradition of blending Sephardi and Ashkenazi traditions during the Seder, the food was flowing quickly and in enough abundance by the promised times.  We had a great time at the first Seder, the first test of how this space and process would work in our new Temple.

The second night was even better and started on time.  And a number of people who could not make it to either the first night or the second night requested a third night.  Most of that third night were young people – teens and young adults.  In my insanity, I said sure, as everything was already in place.  The much smaller group enjoyed a third Seder gathering, utilizing the ample abundance of food from the previous nights.  This was a night of warming and easy cleanup.  And so there were three.

The last day of Pesach (Passover) we held our first YIZKOR in the new space.  It was a powerful ending to our first Pesach in the California campus.  The hectic nature of the festival and the way we could use our space demonstrated that we had made a good choice in locating the Temple here until we build our more permanent home.

Yes, there are challenges and always will be.  And we know that this space will work for us as we grow.  And now, the kitchenette is in place.  We are so grateful for everyone who stepped forward and made the Seder, Pesach, and the space work so well.  We are indeed chevre, a wonderful Jewish family that makes things work.  We are turning the space into our inclusive, inviting, inspiring Jewish home.

Thank you all!

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