We have all seen both new and familiar faces on the bimah over the past few months. Just as we celebrate the hiring of a vibrant young Hazzan from Buenos Aires for our High Holiday services, we honor and celebrate the inspiring and talented individuals within our own community who have stepped up to lead our Shabbat and Sunday morning services. Although it is always a risk to try to name everyone, I will make the attempt to thank all of these wonderful people who have shared their voices, the efforts, and their kavannah, and who have infused an animating ruach into our prayers. Thank you, Ron Brandwein, Lisa Klein, Bill Gertzog, Ellen Gertzog, Gary Cohen, Ayala Emmett, Bernie Roth, Avi Presberg, Marty Yesowitch, Nancy Kraus, Andrew Berger, Ceidlen Beller, Scott Davis, Bonnie Abrahms, David Kaufman, Pam Rosen, Philip Katzman, Maxine Manjos, David Kaufman, Marjory David, Lewis Rothberg, Cindy Halpern, Judy Levy, the children in our Hebrew School and anyone whose name I have inadvertently omitted or who is a work in process, preparing right now to share their neshamah with us in this beautiful way. Thank you also to Howard Brill for stepping forward to lead a Torah Study discussion about which people are still talking!
Last month we witnessed a flowering in our Torah Study discussion group. The question, “who are we commanded to love as ourself” resonated deeply within the twenty or more people who came to Torah Study one Shabbat morning in May. Inclining towards interpreting Torah to require us to love those who are in our kehillah kedoshah, the sacred community that so very many of us are trying to sustain, nurture and grow, I vied for interpreting “ve’ahavtah le’reiahchah, ke’mochah,” love your neighbor as yourself, to to direct us to love those with whom we live, learn, eat, pray, and share an intimate bond. I believe this because it is sometimes the most difficult to love and express gratitude to those with whom we interact on a regular basis and in a personal way. It is easy to profess an idealistic love for each and every member of humanity, but sometimes not so easy to relate in a loving way to those whose humanness we have witnessed and experienced first hand.
As members of a sacred community, may we continue to blossom in the summer months, through davening, teaching, educating our children, and planning for our holidays and our future. May we always remember to open our hearts to our own and others’ vulnerabilities as we recognize and encourage each others’ strengths. May we continue to live by the philosophy with which Arthur and I were greeted almost three years ago:
May our Doorway
May the door of this synagogue be wide enough
to receive all who hunger for love,
all who are lonely for fellowship.
May it welcome all who have cares to unburden,
thanks to express, hopes to nurture.
May the door of this synagogue be narrow enough
to shut out pettiness and pride, envy and enmity.
May its threshold be no stumbling block
to young or straying feet.
May it be too high to admit complacency,
selfishness, and harshness.
May this synagogue be, for all who enter,
the doorway to a richer and more meaningful life.”
The New Mahzor, Prayer Book Press, 1998.
May we all be blessed in loving community,
Rabbi Aviva Berg