To me, the most joyful aspect of Jewish life is community. When we come together, put aside our differences, and discover that we are better off individually and collectively when we make ourselves part of each other's lives, we discover Judaism's greatest secret. We belong to each other more, even, than we belong to ourselves. We discover life's deepest joys when we allow ourselves to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
Anyone who has ever been through the process of building a new synagogue building (I have, but not at my present congregation) knows what a labor of love it is, and knows how many people need to contribute their love, labor and treasure to make it happen. When a group of people come together to create a new spiritual home, they are doing much more than putting up walls and a roof. They are making an existential statement that says, "We are Jews who are proud to be here. Each of us dedicates a bit of ourselves to something that will last and have an impact far beyond ourselves. We have faith in the power of community." It is a powerful statement about our communal identity, our attachment to the past, our deepest desires for the present, and our profoundest hopes for the future.
Thirteen years ago, that kind of a statement resounded loud and clear from a small group of Jewish families in and around Stuart, Florida. They were no longer content to be a scattered, loosely connected, and homeless community. They wanted to plant a tree in the ground that would grow, and it did.
Happy bar mitzvah, Temple Beit HaYam.