Shabbat Shalom Conference ’08

Yesterday brought to an end First Fruits of Zion’s Shabbat Shalom Shavuot Conference in Hudson, Wisconsin. Today, we are driving back towards Arkansas pondering the events, teachings and new relationships with which we are bringing back with us. Thinking back over the events of the conference, probably the most significant factor of the conference for our family was being a part of the Beth Immanuel community. Shabbat was exceptionally nice, with the ability to have several homes a park and a playground within walking distance from the shul. During the conference we were able to spend time at the homes of Justin Johnson and his family, as well as Brian Tebbitt and his family. It was hard to leave these good friends. In regard to other aspects of the Beth Immanuel community, it was both very encouraging and very depressing to see how advanced their community has become. It was encouraging to see what Hashem is doing, but yet disheartening at the same time to realize the wide chasm between where we are as a community in relationship to Beth Immanuel and the long journey that was still ahead of us.

The theme of conference this year was “Shabbat Shalom.” And although there were lectures on the topic of Shabbat, from my point of view it could have just as easily been called the “Pray In The Spirit Extended Remix” conference. It seemed the primary focus of the conference was prayer and the introduction of the highly anticipated siddur project. And for all those who are anxiously awaiting the new siddur, here’s the scoop:

We were hoping to bring back the Shabbat siddur, but it is still incomplete. In defense of First Fruits, the main reason this has not been completed is because of their deep understanding of their responsibility of creating a resource such as this with excellence. (They compared it to trying to edit Shakespeare without it being obvious – a great analogy. I will explain more about this later.) We were, however, able to experience the first fruits of their labor in draft form in our day to day services during the conference. I plan on sharing more on this later, but need to cover my bases as to what is “shareable” or not. Keep your eyes peeled for more info on this in the next few days…

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