- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On July 1, 2016
- 0 Comments
As I begin to serve as senior rabbi of Temple Israel of Boston, I want to share with you what I told the congregation on the eve of my selection for this great honor.
Nafshi keshora nafshecha
My soul is bound up with yours
These words are part of the Joseph narrative
Describing the interconnected between Jacob and his son.
They are filled with love and anticipation.
As it is for me now.
Nafshi keshora nafshecha
My soul is connected to yours.
All of our souls are connected to one another.
We have traveled during this past year on a difficult path. There has been joy and sorrow for all of us.
We have challenged ourselves,
dug deep into what matters,
examined, probed, and reflected.
With our many perspectives,
we have arrived to this moment,
a sacred space to gather as one congregation and then,
at the right time this summer
to enter into a fresh era of synagogue and Jewish life.
Everyone comes with us, for every voice matters.
Each one of must be known and valued for the gifts
we bring to this blessed altar of congregational life.
The next six months and beyond will be a time of listening,
of inviting and welcoming you to be in conversation with me, with our devoted lay leaders,
and our magnificent rabbis and cantor:
Matthew Soffer, Suzie Jacobson, Jen Gubitz, Roy Einhorn and our fabulous Executive Director Dan Deutsch
and preschool director, Helen
in addition to all of our gifted staff,
to envision and imagine together
a new and renewed path for us.
As we move forward, it is with fresh eyes
as we honor the past
and learn from successes and failures,
from other synagogues and all kinds of traditions,
the benefit of what we might gain
with an open heart and mind.
I am with you.
These words permeate our sacred texts.
Interestingly, they also happen
to be part of an Avril Lavigne song
which I learned at Clergy Weekend a year and half ago.
As the kids kept singing it,
I was struck by how strong those words are.
“I am with you.”
Their impact means something to our teens
and I believe we can learn a great deal
from our very wise teenagers.
“I am with you” has great significance.
I am with you.
God speaks these words to Isaac
as Isaac digs wells for sustenance,
creating new pathways-rechovot.
The phrase here is inverted.
God says: Itcha, anochi. “With you, I am.”
With you, I am.
I am because of my parents
who devoted their lives to the synagogue.
They laid a firm foundation for my sister, brother, and me
that Jewish life develops within these walls
to carry Judaism forward beyond them.
With you, I am
is because my husband supports me every day, cooks gourmet meals every day, and revels in his rebbetz role.
And my three kids who grew up
in the loving embrace of this community,
who asked me if they should write a letter to the search committee
which I hope was to be a letter of affirmation,
are my inspiration.
With Rabbi Mehlman and with Rabbi Friedman,
I am because they believed in me.
They brought me here to this fertile garden of possibility
to be nurtured and to be encouraged
to grow in ways I couldn’t have even imagined.
And that’s thanks to all of you.
You, too, have been my teachers, my mentors,
Let me add here that I have no intention of following in either Rabbi Mehlman’s or Rabbi Friedman’s actual footsteps
because their shoes are way too big for me
and I am very happy in my 8 ½ narrow 3 inch heel pumps.
I have surely walked, however,
along the path they cleared and sowed,
the one that blossoms with
creativity, innovation, welcoming and inclusion,
an emblazoned trail which we will continue on together.
I am with you, Anochi imach
God tells Jacob in a dream of a ladder
connecting the earth with the heavens
with God standing beside him,
assuring him Anochi imach I am with you
of the potential of his legacy,
to the east, and west, north, south,
Wherever Jacob may travel,
the divine presence would be with him.
To be part of a community is not to be alone.
To me this means everything.
In holiday celebrations, in life’s highest and lowest moments,
in the exploration and engagement
of texts and intellectual pursuit,
in acting for justice and compassion,
we are stronger together.
We must become the place to be ourselves,
to be among others,
and frankly to be the extension of our own homes.
To open our arms wide enough
to include, to embrace, to welcome
is among the highest ideals
of how we demonstrate what matters,
that each person matters within our community
and that which surrounds us
in the vast community of our city and beyond.
This is holiness in its truest sense.
I will be with you, Aheye Imach
God speaks to Joshua
as a new era of life ensues for the Jewish people
as they cross over the Jordan
to the land of great promise.
“As I was with Moses, I will be with you”,
Aheye imach, God says to us all
Aheye imach is a divine pledge not to give up
but to devote oneself to the sacred challenges ahead.
This is the promise we can make to one another.
The world is changing, but in this place
we can create stability founded on Torah,
celebrating our values
of justice and compassion, learning and love
to chart our way forward together.
Itach, anochi: With one another, we can be better, stronger, more connected to each other.
Anochi imach: We, each us, through our different perspectives and ideas can be present for one another.
Aheye imach: All of us together can fulfill the divine promise to weave together a magnificent community prepared to move into the unchartered future before us.
My soul is with yours.
My heart is with yours.
I am grateful to the Rabbinic Search committee, the Board of Trustees, the Leadership Council,
and each individual who makes up our synagogue
for entrusting me with the honor
of serving Temple Israel as Senior Rabbi
as we cherish our history and our legacy.
I look forward to working with all of you
as we look forward, work toward, and create the future together.