It has been a wonderful month of heartfelt Mazel Tovs and expressions of hope for Holy Blossom’s future. Thank you, everyone, for the emails, Facebook messages, hand-written notes, web notes, and phone calls. Thank you for the firm handshakes and generous contributions to HBT. I receive each and every one as an expression of love for Holy Blossom Temple and for the Jewish People. Everyone knows how important is our task.
I write these lines on Yom HaAtzmaut. If Jewish life in North America is going to thrive, congregations like Holy Blossom must thrive. A strong Israel must be met with a strong Diaspora. Every Jewish school and shul does its part, but I firmly believe that large congregations like ours have the farthest reach, the greatest potential, and yes, the greatest responsibility. Holy Blossom Temple has risen to the occasion in every era; now we embrace this moment which is all potential and we get to work.
Pirkei Avot 3:1 teaches: “Know from where you have come in order to know where you are going.”
Over the course of many months, Merle Kriss and I led a small working group to prepare a first draft Statement of Identity for Holy Blossom Temple. (Thanks to Owen Duckman, Elliott Jacobson, and Carole Sterling.) We conceived the document like a page of Talmud – with the Mishnah at the centre and Gemara commentaries all around. We brought the draft to the Temple Board and Senior Staff. Over the course of an evening retreat, our Temple leadership further strengthened the draft and now it is ready to share with you.
This is a living document. We ask that you read it, reflect on it, and add your gloss to it. Our working group will carefully consider every comment and integrate as best we can so that this Statement of Identity has the stamp and seal of the congregation at large. We will turn to it often to be reminded of who we are and where we have been. When making decisions and setting priorities, we will turn to it as a guide, a compass, so that, in the words of Pirkei Avot, we “know where we are going.”