The Latest from BZBI

What’s in a Name? A Lot!

April 29, 2019

I have been a member of BZBI now for about 4 years. It has been an enriching experience. I have enjoyed and benefited from our services, the many learning opportunities provided, and the many other BZBI special events. However, I have not made the most of the opportunities at our weekly Shabbat Kiddush, to chat with and get to know other BZBI’ers. I still am not as comfortable as I would like to be in approaching BZBI’ers that I do not know at all and with whom I have not exchanged a word.

I note that every Shabbat from the bimah an announcement is made that our board members are wearing name tags and that they invite and welcome anyone in our congregation to approach them and introduce themselves. I think this is a terrific idea and certainly makes it easier for anyone to approach a board member and introduce themselves. I think we should make it easier for every one of us to approach any other BZBI’er, introduce ourselves, and possibly get something going. This would help to encourage relationships beyond already existing smaller groups of friends, beyond groupings based on age, special interests, etc.  Prior to our membership in BZBI, Doris and I were members in a shul where name tags for all was indeed the practice and which greatly enhanced social interactions across all groupings in the congregation.

To encourage this at BZBI, I propose that we have name tags for every BZBI’er. This need not be an expensive proposition; in fact, it can be inexpensive. A paper name tag, protected in a plastic pocket, can be hung around the neck on a cord. Over the next few Shabbatot, when I attend services, I will wear such a name tag for anyone who is interested to see what it might look like. The front of the name tag would of course have one’s name. On the back of the name tag, visible through the clear plastic pocket, could be one’s full Hebrew name which would be used by the gabbai when one is honored with an aliya. Upon ascending the bimah, one need only give the name tag or show it to the gabbai who could then call out the correct Hebrew name. If we wanted to identify board members, clergy, other staff, volunteers, etc. different color paper could be used to identify each special group. If we actually developed an “official” BZBI name tag that each member would have and wear, together with other gifts presented by the congregation to our bnei and bnot mitzvah, we could officially acknowledge their full, post bar or bat mitzvah membership in the kahal by presenting them with their BZBI name tag which rabbi, parent, teacher, or other would place around their necks.

I’m not sure what the next steps to discuss this idea might be, but I hope we have a process in place which allows us to explore this and additional possibilities.

Thanks for your consideration of this idea.