In splansky, Third

By Rabbi Yael Splansky.

On my shelf there is “Difficult Freedom” by Emmanuel Levinas, “The Insecurity of Freedom” by Abraham Joshua Heschel, and a gift from Rabbi Marmur’s library, “Escape from Freedom” by Erich Fromm.  Each is very different, but each collection of post-Holocaust theology includes reflections on the limits, challenges, and anxieties, which come with freedom.  They also, most importantly, reflect on the responsibilities, which come with freedom.  Our core narrative – the Exodus from Egypt — insists that there is no freedom without responsibility.  When we left the taskmasters behind we were no longer enslaved, but we were not truly free until we accepted Torah at Sinai.  It could be said we replaced one taskmaster for Another.  But the demanding and commanding God who has expectations of us is also our Creator-Parent who lovingly offers us the chance at constructing, not a palace of mortar and brick for Pharoah, but a life of meaning and purpose.  By our own freewill we accept the mitzvot and celebrate the freedom, which comes in the form of a sacred task, a sacred burden.

Keep it Real. Make it Relevant.

I hope your seder tables are filled with family and friends, with delicious food, joyful song and shared memory.  I hope the table is also alive with discussion and debate over themes, which spring from the Haggadah.  How are we enslaved?  How are we free?  What plagues our world today?  What ought we do with our fortunate freedom?

Political philosopher, Michael Walzer writes about the invitation which comes with our Exodus narrative: “The Israelites are not, after all, magically transported to the promised land; they are not carried on the “eagle’s wings” of Exodus 19; they must march to get there, and the march is full of difficulties, crises, struggles, all realistically presented, as if to invite human as well as divine resolution.”  (Exodus and Revolution, p. 10)

Let the Hagadah “invite resolution.” Make it a springboard for your own symposium on freedom and responsibility.  The powerful words on these pages were written two thousand, one thousand, five hundred years ago.  What do they spark in us today?

My in-laws’ seder begins with an empty Cup of Eliyahu at the center.  Only at the end of the seder, before opening the door for Elijah the Prophet, do we pass the goblet around the table and each person pours a bit of his and her own wine to prepare for our mysterious guest.  As we do, we each make a private pledge to do something to hasten the Messianic Age, to make our world more just, more kind, more whole.  It’s a symbolic way to remember that freedom must be applied; freedom must have purpose; and justice must be pursued.

My Own Personal March through a Wilderness.

So many of you have sent good wishes, offered up prayers, dropped off nutritious meals.  Thank you for every extension of support.  Adam and I are so very grateful to be a part of such a loving congregation.  We have felt your strength behind us and it’s made all the difference.

And so I owe you an update.

Thank God, I am well.  I tell you simply as I tell my children and as I tell myself:  “I had cancer.  Now it’s gone and I have to make sure it never comes back.”  I have a great team of physicians guiding me along the way.  My surgery went very well and tomorrow I begin treatment of chemotherapy followed by radiation and hormone therapy.  Everyone has a dear one who has been down this road.  Everyone responds differently.  I hope I will manage the fatigue well and will be able to organize and prioritize my calendar so that I can be a regular presence in the life of the congregation during this time.  That’s my Plan A.

I love my work, as you know.  I don’t want to miss a thing, but I am learning to pace myself and put “first things first.”  Thanks to my wonderful colleagues and our tremendous team of lay leaders, Holy Blossom Temple is in full swing.  The spring season is upon us with festivals and life cycle celebrations, an impressive line-up of classes and creative programming for every stage of life – not to mention a major construction project!

So we count our blessings and carry on with this good life – forward and together.  That’s the only way we know how.

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Showing 55 comments
  • Ruth Ellen and Sheldon Greenwood

    Dear Yael,
    Shelly and I are so happy that you are making progress. We are sending continued strength and support to you, to Adam, and to your family. Your courage and fortitude are an inspiration to us all. We will continue our prayers and good thoughts. Wishing you refuah shelemah as your loving family, your friends, and your congregation support you.
    Ruth Ellen

  • Carol Abugov

    Thinking of you with wishes for continued healing, enveloped in an aura of love and support.
    Hug Sameach to you, Adam and the family.

  • Alice and Ron Charach

    Alice and I join other congregants in wishing you a speedy recovery and a gradual, paced return to the many duties that you perform with such remarkable grace and style. Thank you so much for your inspirational update.

  • Val Wadman

    We travel many journeys. Some are wonderful and instructive, some difficult and demanding of faith and courage. You have faced both with fortitude and wisdom and faith. You are an inspiration. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Passover.
    Val and Arieh

  • Judy and Carl ritchie

    Your are truly an inspiration and role model for all of us in the congregation. We admire your strength We wish you and your family a happy passover.
    Best wishes and love,
    Judy and Carl.

  • Silvia Derasner

    Dear Rabbi Yael Splansky, we are truly thankful for your positive health update and for your words of wisdom. May this Pesach liberate you from the tyranny of cancer, and show you the road to freedom from the disease. Wishing you a full and speedy recovery.
    Chag Sameaj.
    With love, Silvia

  • Shoshana Sage

    Rabbi Splansky: I am glade that you beat cancer and that you are in remission. I pray that you do not have to fight the side effects of the drugs you are taking and have taken also. my love goes with you

  • Judy and Eric Breuer

    We were delighted to hear the positive news about your recovery. May the good news continue!
    Judy and Eric Breuer

  • Janice and Larry Babins

    To you who have comforted us with your deep wisdom, compassion and abundant kindness, we wish you internal strength and the openness to reach out to your loving family and deeply caring friends and congregants for support and guidance.
    Janice and Larry

  • Mark & Donna Weinstock

    Dear Rabbi Splansky, You are in our hearts, thoughts and prayers. Wishing you a refuah shlema. We are big fans of you and all you do! Thank you for the update and best wishes to your wonderful family.

  • Eleanor and Peter Loebel

    Dear Rabbi,
    We are grateful to hear of your steady progression to health, and we wish
    you strength and energy on this your next step on the road to well-being.
    Our good wishes to you and your Family for a Happy Passover,
    Ellie and Peter Loebel

  • Michael Davis

    Rabbi, your words are inspirational and your spirit even more so.
    We will borrow your tradition of Elijah’s cup for our seder table.
    The symbolism is so powerful!
    May G-d bless you and your family with strength and

  • Gerry Prendergast

    Wishing you only good thoughts and prayers to speed you through each chemo treatment. You are surrounded by our love and we as a congregation are unified in our love for you .
    I am available to you at any time night and day if you need any help or questions answered.
    We can only look forward to your return
    Take care of “you”right now Yael

  • Cynthia Good & Dan Aronchick

    You have handled this challenge with your characteristic grace, intelligence and knowledge of your congregation. Thank you for keeping us informed and know that we hope all the next stages will bring you back to us soon and healthy

  • Mariam Leitman and Craig Perkins

    Dear Rabbi Splansky, You have been very much in our thoughts and prayers. We wish you a refuah shleimah! Happy Passover, Mariam Leitman and Craig Perkins

  • Pauline Morrow

    I wish you continued strength on your road to recovery.Happy Pesach to you and your loving family
    Pauline Morrow

  • Ann Shendroff

    You are an inspiration to all who know you. Not thatI am surprised. Wishing you continued strength. You have the whole congregation behind you. PLEASE take care of yourself. With fondest regards, Ann

  • Andrei Horvath and Charleen Glaun

    Dear Rabbi Splansky,
    Andrei and I wish you a Refuah shlema and Chag Pessach sameach to you and your family. Thinking of you on your road to recovery and look forward to having you back with us soon.

  • Gerri Richman, Malcolm Gould, Josh & Leeza

    Our thoughts are with you, as they have been over these past months.
    We know you have the wisdom to know what is most important , the strength to pace yourself and the openness to let the love and caring of those around you, warm your heart.
    Gerri Richman, Malcolm Gould , Josh & Leeza

  • Jill, Greg, Maggi, Ruby, and Lola Neinstein

    We are thinking of you, sending you a smile and wishes you an easy road to recovery.
    Happy Pesah

  • Ruth Ehrlich

    You have always been a role model and now even more of one. We are so thankful you are our Rabbi.
    All our love, Bob and Ruth Ehrlich

  • joan tucker, phoebe and mikayla solomon

    Dear Rabbi;
    We speak about you often in our household. You are always a source of strength and inspiration as a leader and a mother, and a remarkable , gifted woman. We pray for you to have a Refuah Shlemah and a Chag Sameach.

  • Judith Wiley

    All the best Yael, to you and your family. I am so glad things are going well. I repeat what others have said – that it is important right now to put your healing first.
    Chag Pesach Sameach.

  • Fern Lebo & Alan Brudner

    What a lovely post! As always, you are an inspiration and we’re so pleased to hear your good news. May you go from strength to strength. Fondly, Fern and Alan

  • Sharon stein

    Wishing you a speedy recovery .
    Chag pesach sameach.

  • debbi and Bobby Moses

    Dearest Yael,

    I hear in your ‘voice’ the sounds of a brave warrior…I know this path very well, and and it is demanding of body and soul….I learned that these are times to enrich yourself with family and positivity! Your community will want to give it’s all to you and thankfully this is part of healing BUT never fear the word “NO” when it’s warranted…This is your time to heal!
    There are MANY wonderful resources for you that I will share with you when you are ready…..We wish you refuah shleimah and may you go from strength to strength!!!!!
    debbi and Bobby Moses and family

  • Elaine and Marv Givertz

    Dear Rabbi Splansky
    Thanks for the update on your health. So far so good! May you continue to heal and handle all of the therapies your health care team provide. Enjoy the Seder with your loving family and may you continue to have the strength and spirit to deal with this burden.
    Elaine and Marv Givertz

  • Marvin Sadowski

    No one should continue their life by saying ” Oh my goodness why me” We are all God’s children and I think he sends us messages from time to time to remind us that we are only allotted a certain time on earth. Having said that and from a loving friend who has gone through cancer surgery on two different accasions just put one foot in front of the other, don’t look back and march forward with the great strength and determination that I always have admired in you.
    Victoria & I send our love and admiration.

  • Joanne Godel Blatt

    Rabbi Splansky, a friend shared a special poem with me recently. The message was this…there are two days in the week where we should not worry…yesterday which has forever passed and is now beyond our control, and tomorrow which brings the unknown and often dread but is also beyond our control. That leaves today, and every person can fight the battles of just one day. So I hope you go forward with the strength you need each day and live but one day at a time. I am thinking of you, we all are. Stay strong. You an do this!
    Joanne and Warren

  • Liz Tarshis and Rick Lash

    We wish you continued strength on the road to recovery. You continue to inspire us all with your leadership, wisdom and grace.
    Liz and Rick

  • Dena Perlmutar

    Dear Rabbi Spansky,
    Thank you for your message and for filling us in on your progress. I went through a similar ordeal 5 yrs ago. Now 5 yrs cancer free, I can look back and truthfully say that it is the support of loved ones that helped me get through that period of time when “I had cancer”. You have love and support in abundance!! Remember also to be good to yourself and take all the time that you need. I wish you an easy recovery! Happy Pesach to you and your family! Dena and Rachel Perlmutar

  • Gary & Janis Soren

    As we “count our blessings” this spring, we will count you, our dear Rabbi, among them. Wishing you a speedy & full recovery.
    Happy Pesach!
    Gary & Janis Soren

  • Fagi and Ed Goldfarb

    Thoughtful, generous,,instructive, rooted in understanding that to be human is to be vulnerable, to walk in the widerness, not always to be borne “al kanfei yesharim”(eagles’ wings). Refuah shleimah Yael, and kol hakavod.

  • Suzie Lyon

    As usual, your strong, thoughtful, resilient, positive and passionate neshama comes through in your writing of your update. May you continue on your path to full strength and full health, and may you trust and allow yourself to lean on and draw from the strength of the community that loves and admires you so dearly. Chag Pesach Sameach.

  • Florence Minz

    Dear Rabbi Splansky,
    Wishing you easy treatment and a full rapid recovery.
    A good Pesach.
    Thinking of you
    Florence Minz

  • Jennifer Hunter

    Rabbi Splansky: I am so glad you made it through this horrible ordeal with a sense of humor and a positive outlook. You are in my pantheon of brave women. I envy your strength and resilience. Brava. Jennifer

  • Martha Sharpe and Kevin Temple

    What a beautiful message. Thinking of you and wishing you a quick and full recovery. Happy Passover! With love from all the Sharpe Temples.

  • Jennifer Hunter

    Rabbi Splansky: I am so glad you made it through this horrible period and can be so positive about the future. Brava. You are in my pantheon of brave women. You are remarkable and I applaud your resilience. Jennifer

  • Ida Tugg

    I pray for your recovery and want you to know that not a day has passed without thinking about you.
    May you and your family enjoy a happy passover .

  • Nancy Ruth

    Wonderful to arrive home to your good ( and positive) health update! Like all else , I know you will weather this time with a smile and fortitude! I Look forward to seeing you soon and, in the meantime, send love and best wishes for a wonderful Hag to you and the family.

  • Sandra and Zvi Merovic

    I am so happy to hear that you are doing well. Yes keep strong, we are behind, and beside you and ready to help you all the way.
    Best wishes
    Sandra and Zvi Merovic

  • Cheryl Sylvester

    Thank you for your inspiring words as we embark on our Pesach journey! And thank you for your inspiring words about your own journey. May you be blessed on your way to a refuah shleyma.
    In our hearts and prayers,

  • Alberto, Tere and Isaac Quiroz

    Rabbi as many time we will need to pray for your well being we will do it. In these difficult times you have us behind you helping you along the way, helping Hashem’s hands to help you heal and to give you strength. You are a truly an inspiration to us. Sincerely, The Quiroz Family.

  • Mair Musafija

    So glad to read your words! Wish you and family many good days ahead. Happy Passover!

  • Vanessa Melman Yakobson

    Thanks so much for sharing this update, Yael. We all celebrate this positive news and wish you a very easy, quick journey ahead!

  • Millie and Sheldon Goldstein

    Rabbi Splansky
    We are so happy to hear your cheerful update, and strongly hear the positive tone you have regarding your treatment as well as what follows. Your outlook is exemplary, for your family and the congregation, and your presence is felt throughout this journey. We are one lucky congregation and wish you continued good health for years to come.
    Millie and Sheldon Goldstein

  • Charles and Joy Cohen

    Dear Rabbi Splansky,
    Charles and I are so happy to learn of the progress you have made in recovering from surgery, and send our sincere wishes for strength during this next phase of the journey back to complete health. We admire your optimistic view of life’s challenges and thank you for the inspiration you provide for all of us.
    We have also been inspired by your writings on Passover and hope to incorporate some of these reflections at our seder.
    Chag Pesach Sameach.

  • Lori Gershon

    The path you follow is not easy, but I am sure we are all certain that your strength, determination and positive attitude will see you through it, buoyed as you are by the love and support of so many. Your path leads to refuah sh’leimah, and that is our most sincere wish for you.

  • Eleanor Steinberg

    Wishing you a speedy and healthy recovery. You are an inspiration to all of us.
    Enjoy Passover with your lovely family.
    Eleanor Steinberg

  • Linda Wolfe

    Dear Yael, Thanks so much for this update. You are on my mind a lot of the time. If there is any way that I can be helpful, please call on me. I wish you strength and as easy a road ahead as possible. Much love, Linda

  • Deborah and Gary Zlands

    Wishing you good health!!

  • Naomi Bell

    What a beautiful letter from our beautiful, luminous, beloved rabbi!
    I wish you strength, Yael, and a speedy return to good health.
    May you continue to teach and inspire your congregation for many decades to come!
    Naomi Bell

  • Gay and Gerry Lokash

    As with the approaching Spring Season, we hope and pray that your recovery will strengthen and bloom to fruition, and that you will enjoy a lifetime of good health in all seasons. With fondest regards, Gay and Gerry.

  • Toby

    so many of us, I am sure, who have been down this road with a loved one or personally understand your journey. Your view is one that hopefully, will keep you strong and sustain you throughout. I wish you strength and wish you an easy recovery and the comfort of loving and supportive friends and family.

  • Fredzia and Dow Marmur

    A profound reflection and a cheerful update. May you go from strength to strength. Please pace continue to pace yourself for your sake, for the sake of your lovely family and for the sake of your loving congregation.
    חג שמח
    Fredzia and Dow Marmur

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