The Jewish Observer
News from Middle Tennessee's Jewish Community | Saturday, April 13, 2024
The Jewish Observer

West End Wraps Tefillin and Raps with Dan

West End Synagogue was abuzz with activity on February 11 as its Men’s Club and Sisterhood co-hosted the “World Wide Wrap.” Created by the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs to encourage people to put on tefillin (phylacteries) as part of morning services, the event is held annually on Superbowl Sunday. In addition to visual aids showing the proper placement of the tefillin boxes on one’s forehead and arm, Rav Natan Freller provided hands-on assistance. Experienced “minyanaires” (those who attend daily prayer services) helped people new to the tradition. Middle- and high-school students from the shul’s Beit Miriam Religious School filled out the congregation of about 70 for the Shachareit (morning) service led by Rabbi Joshua Kullock. 

Following the service and a great brunch prepared by Sweets Melissa & Sons, Rabbi Dan Horwitz, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville, spoke about his new book, Just Jewish: How to Engage Millenials and Build a Vibrant Jewish Future (Ben Yehuda Press, November 2023). Horwitz provided an overview of all nine chapters in the book. While he spoke specifically about the needs of Millennials and how existing Jewish organizations can evolve to better serve them, his concepts are universal to building community. In order to help people find the five best Jewish friends they didn’t know they needed to “do Jewish and life with,” reach out to them one-on-one. After getting to know them, invite them to a community event you know they would like, or Shabbat dinner, where you introduce them to like-minded people. Embrace inclusion, get out of your building, infuse Jewish wisdom and emphasize its relevance, reimagine Jewish spirituality. Above all, relationships are everything.  

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Rav Natan Freller of West End Synagogue helps Ellis Prichard put on his t’fillin
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West End Synagogue participated in the World Wide Wrap with people of all ages.

The first question from the audience was about Dan’s motivation: what is his “Why” for writing the book, and his career journey from founding The Well, to being a pulpit rabbi, and now the CEO of our Federation? Dan spoke about being raised as a “shul brat”, loving the intergenerational nature of a Jewish community, and seeing the transformative impact it could have. He loves people and building community. “My mother tongue is Judaism. It gives me deep personal satisfaction to be the inheritor of centuries of sage wisdom so we can lead purpose-driven, thoughtful lives.”  

West End Synagogue has a dozen copies of Just Jewish: How to Engage Millenials and Build a Vibrant Jewish Future available for sale in its office, at the normal retail price of $25. A quarter of the proceeds benefit the congregation’s Men’s Club and Sisterhood.  

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