One of the most rewarding parts about being a rabbi, especially in a congregation, is being invited into the lives of our members. Let me share with you a recent example. In late February, we planned a special program for our youngest religious school students, called “Shema Pajama Party.” It was inspired by an idea brought to us by members who shared a similar program with their grandchild in another city. It invited parents to a session involving an adult learning session, and then projects that they could complete with their child(ren). In preparation for this program, I asked parents to send in a photo of their child to use in the projects.
As the children’s photos began to arrive in my email, I was struck by something very precious. Each parent chose the photos so lovingly. In each adorable smile or silly image, I not only got to see those children through their parents’ eyes, I could feel their deep love for each boy and girl. Of course, I see parents and children together on a weekly basis, both the laughter and the “hurry ups” as students are shepherded in and out of classes. But sharing personal photos of their children provided me a more intimate glimpse into what makes each of our students absolutely precious and unique. It was a surprising, yet touching, view into each family’s life.
As rabbi, I am often invited into profound moments in a family’s journey. From birth and other celebrations of the Jewish lifecycle, to the painful steps at the end of a loved one’s life, I get to glimpse and often to touch their lives at seminal moments. It is one of the greatest honours of my position, and a source of great joy and satisfaction.
But rabbis aren’t the only members of a community invited to share in the lives of our members. Essential to the experience of “community” is the intimacy of personal connections – friendships, shared experiences, and mutual support. I am now at a point where I have people I have married under the chuppah, named their children, and soon to welcome them to our school. As my children, too, have grown, it has been such a joy to share their experiences as well with the loving interest shown by our members. I have very little family myself, but through my Temple family, I am enriched by so many wonderful people and the moments we share.
As winter comes and goes, and we enter a new spring season together, I invite each of you to find a few moments to connect with your Temple “family.” I know your friends will welcome you warmly. And the gift you bring by your presence in our community is a blessing indeed.
Looking forward to the next time I see you,