This is the final Before Shabbat of the TBA cycle. It goes on hiatus until September. I love the weekly opportunity to reflect on things large and small and then to share those reflections with you. I always try to find ideas that touch on matters of spirituality or ethics or Israel or Reform Judaism or movies or music or… well, anything that is interesting and topical.
There are weeks when there are so many things happening that it is hard to drill down on just one topic. On the other hand, there are times when I am reviewing the week and the news and the temple and my life, waiting like a fisherman for something to suddenly strike and take the bait.
I appreciate it so much when you tell me that you’ve read a particular blog and found it worthwhile reading. I know just how many emails you probably receive and how often you bother clicking on anything in your inbox. Thank you for taking the time to read it. Some of you have told me that you forward Before Shabbat to other people. That means a lot to me as well, knowing that Before Shabbat spreads beyond the immediate Beth Avodah family circle.
I also appreciate it when you read something with which you take issue and then you share your question/concern. I want to engage and connect with Before Shabbat. I want to know when you think I’m speaking your language and when you’re sure that we’re not on the same page.
As Before Shabbat goes into hibernation and as I slowly roll towards my annual month on the Cape, I am in a reflective state of mind. How could that not be so? After all, I am entering my 20th year at Beth Avodah!
This is such a major professional and personal milestone for me. To be in one place for so long is itself something to celebrate. The new normal for Millennials is to jump jobs four times in the first decade out of college! Twenty years is a generation; I’ve had the enormous thrill of watching a generation’s worth of children grow to adulthood. I have said hello to lots of babies. I’ve said goodbye to folks, too, including my mom, in these past 20 years. So many weddings and B’nai Mitzvah and graduations and big moments. So many moments of study and dialogue. Traveling to New York and Israel in buses and subways and taxis and camels and even a hot air balloon! So much laughter, and tears, and common cause. And so many quieter moments of conversation: in my office, on the street, over a good meal, over the phone, email, texts, and more.
Sometimes my friends kid around with me and call me the happiest rabbi in America. I’m not sure if that’s true. What I do know is that I am blessed to be where I am doing what I do. It is a calling. The notion that I am doing exactly what God wants me to do is a sobering and a daunting fact. It means the expectations are enormous. I take this truth to be an ironclad obligation to my congregation and to my people. Being a rabbi is not what I do; it’s who I am. For better and for worse, I have no rabbi face or rabbi voice. This is it; I’m all in – it’s just me.
I have a pile of books for the summer (including Now: the Physics of Time by Richard Muller, At the Existentialist Café, by Sarah Blakewell, and Moonglow by Michael Chabon, among others), a new beach chair (Renetto Beach Bum 2.0), and some great places to plant myself. I have some recipes for summer gustatory pleasure and hopes that the wifi connection at the summer house we rent is good enough to watch the new season of Game of Thrones.
5778 is going to be filled, God willing, with lots of celebrations and Simchas for us all. I look forward to toasting l’hayyim for 20 years of the deep, abiding love and appreciation I have for TBA. I also look forward to all of the good things yet to be, the events that await our attention and the ones that will spring upon us. We’re in this together, and that is comforting and exciting.
What are you reading this summer? What kind of beach chair are you sitting in? Where will you be?
Whatever you do, take some time to breathe and some time to give thanks. Be healthy and safe.