Receiving the News
Highlights from Rimon’s Community Conversation Sunday, May 29, 2016
At this Community Conversation Rabba Kaya told the community that she is no longer able to continue as Rabba and carry all of the administrative responsibilities without a living income. She told us she needs to find employment, which may mean looking for work outside the area. She and Ellyn Salkin, President of the Board, said it has been a “profound struggle” to make it work over the past 4 years and to secure a financial foundation for Rimon. They have made every effort to secure funding.
We addressed 3 questions:
How do people feel about Kaya’s needing tomove on? Can Rimon exist without Kaya?
What are next steps?
This was an emotional meeting attended by 24?? people, and was participatory, with expressions of grief, sadness, anger, frustration, disbelief, shock, disappointment and loss. Several expressed fear about losing Chevra Kadisha. Kaya assured the group that these practices are holy community practices, not Rabbinic, and that she sees Rimon as family and she will be there for the community at times of death.
There was an outpouring of gratitude for Kaya and how she has touched people so deeply, and an acknowledgment of how much HAS been accomplished. Several said that she is the first teacher who opened them to spirituality in the wider sense and for some Jews, the first time they had been able to connect to Jewish sprituality and tradition. For some, there was great sadness that it took them so long to find this. “It has been a privledge to know Kaya.”
One person said that “it is extraordinary that Kaya combines depth, the strength of tradition, extraordinary inclusiveness, and opens the reality of Spirit to everyone. You are a major Light.”
Several people cannot imagine Rimon without Kaya—“the heart and soul and breath of Rimon is Kaya.”
“We need to find a middle way, not get dualistic (i.e. that Rimon is with Kaya or there is no Rimon). There is no way to know how the seeds Kaya has planted will grow. Those of us who have been touched by Kaya can carry the seeds forward into the community.”
“Leaders need support.”
“We need to find a way to continue with the “Rimon brand”. Kaya can continue to advise us wherever she is.”
“The essence of Rimon is within us.”
“We could continue classes through Skype and invite other teachers. Kaya has connections with other teachers and can continue to help us find teachers.”
“The potlucks can continue. We can study together and be a lay led group.” “Use the model of a Havurah.”
“We can’t replicate Kaya. We need to give ourselves some time to find our way. We need to scale down our expectations from the grand vision. Do something smaller and less ambitious. It is not that we can’t do anything; it doesn’t mean that we have to go into a dark place. We are at a juncture.”
“Kaya is a charismatic leader. It is hard to move from a charismatic leader to a community model. We are at the infancy of community-led groups.We need to bring our community to the next step - adolescence.”
“Create a Mikvah. This could engage others (Jewish and non-Jewish) who would welcome ritual cleansing.”
“Go forth, Kaya. You deserve to be paid well. You will bring your gifts where ever you go.” Next steps:
Several people signed up to continue the conversation. Several said they know people who could not attend today but whom they think would be interested in next steps. They will contact them. Ellyn Salkin will convene the next meeting.
Ani Nadler Grosser