Monday, August 12, 2013



Excerpt: "The month of Elul, proceeding High Holy Days, is set aside for contemplation and self-assessment.
Collected by noted national Jewish musician Craig Taubman of Craig N Co., the "Jewels of Elul" is a collection of stories, experiences, and inspiration from rabbis, teachers, and contemporary thinkers who share their insight on thought provoking topics."

Questions are posed to readers for the ELUL JOURNEY 5773
You can subscribe.
I submitted my immediate spontaneous responses to JEWELS OF ELUL. 
They include:

Jewels of Elul IX ~ the art of welcoming
Click Here to Answer

6 Elul "If you had to name the place where you felt most warmly welcomed, accepted and encouraged, where would it be? Why?"

The "place" is at my shuls where I have "felt most warmly welcomed, accepted and encouraged", although I would also include Remo Music Center in North Hollywood, CA, and the Apple Store in Northridge. At Apple, I get to sit on a bar stool, and "everyone knows my name."  :)

Lev Eisha in Los Angeles, my women's shul with Rabbi Toba August, for at least the last 13 years, "welcomed me, accepted and encouraged me".  I have been their percussionist accompanying Cindy Paley, since the first Shabbat I attended. Love and appreciation have overflowed in abunDance toward me all this time. 

The same is also true for Ahavat Torah, LA, and Rabbi Miriam Hamrell in the last decade that I attend whenever I can. This shul also is totally warmly welcoming, embracing of me, and probably all who enter. I've been invited to play percussion, and also encouraged to teach which I do. Both shuls have people welcoming congregants and guests at the door, and invite them to be involved.

Some of my other shuls where I've been involved for over a couple decades have similar welcoming behavior. When present, I, too, do the welcoming in shuls that include B'nai Horin with Rabbi Stan Levy, and Makom Ohr Shalom with Rabbi/Cantor Monty Turner. At N'Shama Minyan with Rabbi Nina Feinstein at Valley Beth Shalom, again, I am always welcomed by the women (especially Shirley!), and encouraged to play my music which I've been doing for many years.  

As temple musician, I am one of the first to arrive at shul. When I see new people attend, I make sure to introduce them to others, and assist with prayer books, seats, etc. At Kiddush (even though I want to shmooze with my old friends) I make sure to sit with new people and introduce them to others so that they too feel comfortable, welcomed, and I invite them to return, and to contact me if they have questions.  Not all shuls I've attended are welcoming, so I know the difference, and I try to make a difference by "Serving G*d with Joy".  For decades, this has been my spiritual intention. I was told by an old friend Theresa, obm, that I did this for her in kindergarten. Last evening I consciously made introductions at an art opening. (I learned in UJ's MBA marketing class: if you see a need--fill it.)  
- Joy Krauthammer

Rav Dimi of Nehardea said: "Hachnasat Orchim - the welcoming of guests -
takes precedence over the beit midrash - the house of study
Rav Judah said in Rav's name: "Hachnasat Orchim - the welcoming of guests -
takes precedence over welcoming the Shechina, the Divine Presence of G*d Herself."  
 Shabbat 127a