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Rabbi Karen Thomashow

By Rabbi Karen Thomashow.

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.

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  • Johanna Faulk
    Reply

    I remember the first time I saw you and (along with others) thought, oh my – surely she’s not old enough to be a rabbi! How wrong we were. You have been an astonishing combination of scholarship and authenticity. You are always present and a paragon of a pastoral rabbi, an extremely rare combination indeed. From my son’s bar mitzvah where you were so pregnant we weren’t sure you were going to make it through to my mother’s funeral and shiva, you have exemplified everything we needed to have the strong and vibrant community that we have. Thank you – you will be missed!

    • Karen Thomashow
      Reply

      Dear Johanna,
      Celebrating the lifecycle with you and Ethan has been my privilege. And celebrating each Shabbat together has also been a joy. Thank you so much for your gracious words. And thank you for everything you have given me and my family–especially your openness and wisdom. Sincerely, Karen Thomashow

  • Corinne Black
    Reply

    Words can never express our thanks to you.
    You came into our community like a breath of fresh air.
    Always giving and thought provoking you have taught us more than Torah.
    You have shown us how we can lead by example and embrace our faith so deeply.
    For this we will be eternally grateful.
    Issac Wise Temple gained another treasure.
    We will miss you.

    • Karen Thomashow
      Reply

      It is truly the members of our sacred community who have made my work so natural. You and your family, Corinne, are wonderful leaders of the community–thank you for everything you have done for me and the Temple. Warmly, Karen Thomashow

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