This past Shabbat morning my daughter, Alma, put on her party shoes and grabbed my hand at the front door as we prepared to leave our home for Shabbat morning services. And as we walked through the door onto our driveway she said to me, “Which services are we leading?”
Yes, my little one thinks that she, too, is a rabbi! That certainly warms my heart. But what touches me most about her comment in the form of a question is that she has been a part of a sacred community in which she feels so comfortable that she has intuited a full sense of being a part of it all. To her there is no difference between being a leader of the community and being a member of the community. I’d like to think that she learned this from me. I, too, believe that as much as I am a professional leader for the community, I am so too a full fledged member of the community.
Over the past (almost) six years, I have celebrated my own simcha and yours, I have been touched by the wisdom of my colleagues, I have felt support in difficult times, I have been moved by our worship, I have been inspired by our youth, I have learned through sacred study, I have grown in relationship with Israel alongside our teens and their parents, I have been positively challenged, I have been witness to the lifecycle, and I have gained a new heart.
The author of the book of Ezekiel wrote, “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you.” This verse in its original context is a quotation of our God. It is traditional to read this verse at the mikveh ceremony for those converting to Judaism. Biblical commentators read this verse indeed to suggest that there are times in our lives in which we achieve or receive a new stride in our step, a fresh impact on our soul, and a novel love. I care so deeply for this Holy Blossom Temple community. This congregation and its people, in God’s presence, have planted within me a special spirit. It is because of and with this spirit that I am now poised to take the next position of my rabbinical career. Todah Rabah, thank you very much.
I will look forward to seeing you in person over the course of the next four months so that I may share in person many more and personalized words of gratitude for the years of shared community. In the meantime, my husband Yonatan and I wish you and the congregation all the best. As the author of the book of Proverbs wrote, “If your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad.” I will always hold the successes and joys of Holy Blossom Temple–this tremendous community–in my heart as my own.