Synagogue Maintenance as a Sacred Endeavor
The discussion was heated: do we spend a moderate amount of pesos to repair the disintegrating roof of our synagogue for the short term, or invest the funds necessary for creating a new surface with proper drainage. With open minds, we listened to each others’ reasoning at our last board meeting and then took a vote. Time was of the essence, the rainy season almost upon us, the sky already filled with fat dark clouds. Did we want to spend big bucks eating away at our facilites’ fund or a small bite to keep thing safe and dry for maybe, if lucky, two years. At the end of the day, the vote was cast to invest in the long term health of our roof.
The next step for me was selecting the right construction company and hauling myself up the ladder to see what exactly had to be done. Wouldn’t you know, on closer inspection, the enormous, ancient propane tank, sitting there since the days the synagogue was a restaurant, was in terrible shape with a broken gauge and leaking gas. Add more pesos to the bill. Down I came and explored the other potential problems with the contractor. And, yes, the water filtration system was decrepit and had to be replaced. Locks and doors also needed work. It was like any remodeling job. Once starting to open up a wall, you only find more and more to do.
Fortunately, a wonderful construction group, ACR Construction, turned up at exactly the right moment. Led by Miguel and Mateo Ramirez, they fixed everything and on time. Now the synagogue is ready to face the future. My goal was to make sure our space would be safe and comfortable for us for the moment and in the future.
Hanging out on the roof and checking on the aljibes was not what I thought I would be doing as president. Yet, I actually enjoyed getting to better know the synagogue and its systems. And then I read an article from Rabbis Without Borders that said:
Can sweeping the floor be sacred? Is it possible to view repairing the HVAC system as holy work? Synagogues have a lofty mission: To continue the Jewish journey of engagement with God and Torah into the next chapter of the story of generations.
When we envision the sacred work of synagogues do we allow for the necessary work of maintaining the physical spaces we are drawn to?…
Now I can say, YES, we did. And, many thanks to those who helped including Joe Gottesman, who accompanied me up and down the ladder, Susana Greenberg, who filled in whenever asked, Robin Hayden who always came up with the money and Michael Sullivan, my consultant.