On Tuesday I spent the afternoon cleaning the synagogue, which really needed it. Quite a few people turned up to help, which was encouraging. They included BG, who brought her mother along! Then in the evening we had a visit from R Elkan Levy. He represents an organization who try to help small Jewish communities. He had a lot of useful practical suggestions of what we could do and what his group could do for us, and generally gave us some much-needed encouragement. He's also one of those incredibly discursive people; he's really geeky about anglo-Jewish history and kept going off into random anecdotes about famous 19th century Jews and other such things. Since there are only a limited number of famous 19th century Jews, it wasn't too surprising that he mentioned an ancestor of mine.
We had eight people for the meal yesterday evening, including a new student (yay!) And it was generally extremely friendly and enjoyable and I'm pleased about it. Today the service was quite well-attended, up to 14 adults and four kids for some of it at least. And I think it went well and people felt part of it. My ex-pupil TS, who has given up on the idea of a full bar mitzvah for various reasons, was nevertheless called to read from Torah for the first time, which made it a really lovely occasion. The person who had volunteered to take some of the responsibility off my shoulders and deal with part of the service had not prepared as thoroughly as I would have done; she had some excuses, such as having been ill this week and having lost the email I wrote with instructions. Anyway, this wasn't a big problem, and I succeeded in not being too irked by it.
I found myself very tempted to power-trip on the sheer emotional power of some of the liturgy, which does sometimes happen when I'm leading. If I read something that moves me, the congregation pick up on the emotion and sometimes I can feel that I'm carrying everybody along. That gives me a real buzz, and it's hard not to aim for it deliberately, almost play-acting my own emotional response by communicating it through the way I read. Anyway, I think I didn't fall into that too much, but at the same managed to make the davening engaging, I think.
I'm reasonably optimistic about the future of the community. With a bunch of keen new people, and the very much needed input from R Levy, and people beginning to get self-confidence that they can do things. I'm finding a bit that I am having to be self-deprecating, because people keep wailing that the community won't be able to continue without me. So I have to really emphasize that of course I'm not irreplaceable, which rather means downplaying the fact that I do make a major contribution. I do absolutely believe it; I'm far from irreplaceable, but I don't like rejecting the credit that I think I deserve. Though of course, it is very pleasant indeed to be appreciated for what I do.
Anyway, happy new year to all those for whom the year is new!