The board and I have recently finished reading How to Attract Millions of People to Your Synagogue by Rabbi Abel Bodyman. The chapter that resonated with us the most was about creating a brand for the synagogue. A distinct brand will help people remember our synagogue. Most communities brand their shul with a logo or tagline and, since we already have both, the board and I have decided to go in a more creative direction—we’ve decided that Beth Torah needs a mascot.
Our first candidate was Judah the Lion. As you can imagine, lions are expensive but, fortunately, In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue in Wylie was looking to sell one of their lions after he ate a tourist, so the price was right for us. The upkeep of a lion is significant so we have decided to rely on the income from our tenant to cover the cost of raw zebra meat. Ironically, while the costs of Judah the Lion would be covered by the tenant, state law prohibits keeping
any beast weighing over 400 pounds with claws and fangs within 50 feet of a preschool.
We decided a lion was impractical and the next mascot we considered was an eagle. Exodus 19:4 inspired that idea. We associated the eagle with the verse, “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to myself.” We could imagine the drama of reading those lines from the Torah as Swoopy the Eagle swept above our heads in the sanctuary! We were almost settled on Swoopy when it suddenly
occurred to us that the eagle was the symbol of the Roman Legion and the Romans were responsible for our 2000 years of exile. This mascot would only be appropriate on Tisha b’Av. So…no more Swoopy.
Our third, and final, candidate was a goat. Of course a goat isn’t as fierce as a lion or as majestic as an eagle but it is quite practical. It’s safe around preschool students and it doesn’t snatch your kippah off your head with its talons during the Torah service. Also, with the cost of trash pick up in Richardson having increased substantially at the beginning of the year, the goat would not be just a mascot but an operational cost–saving tool, as well. Goats being goats, he does have a tendency to eat the prayer books if we’re not looking but that did help us pick a name for him…Geniza. A final advantage of Geniza the Goat is that he can assist us with Yom Kippur. As you know, the Musaf service is long and a bit dull. It recounts all those details about the sacrifices in the Temple and the Scape Goat. This year, we thought we’d make the drama come alive by reenacting the Temple ceremony. The Cohens and Levites in our community will begin practicing in a few weeks.
The board and I hope you will support our efforts toward branding Beth Torah with a mascot, welcome Geniza the Goat to our community, and in case you haven’t figured it out already… Happy Purim! May our holiday be filled with much laughter and joy!