Photo Credit: Jewish Press

In my local community, I am a board member of one shul, a past board member of a second, and a dues-paying member of a third. Together with my fellow volunteers, we aspire to create welcoming spaces. Is there babysitting available, so parents can attend Yom Kippur services? Are speakers reminded to translate Hebrew terminology, so everyone can access their teaching? Do we offer social events with a range of entry fees, so cost isn’t a barrier to participation?

I attended my first Yankees game this summer. As I didn’t understand much about what was happening on the field, my attention was drawn to the crowd. The Judge 99 jerseys, the smell of popcorn, the jumbotron. The stadium holds over 54,000 people and it keeps attracting them back.


While I’m not about to compare Yankee Stadium to shul, I do think about the process of intentionally creating spaces that are meaningful and people want to return to time and again. Are they drawn to what’s happening on the big field, or in the crowd? The food or the players?

As we know, the answer is: All of the above.


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Anat Coleman is the Director of Strategic and Community Initiatives at the Jewish Community Council of Washington Heights, and a board member of The Beis Community.