Managing Transitions is a Blessed Journey by Dr. Laura Bernstein

Navigating and managing transitions is not about forgetting our history and starting everything anew; rather it is about respecting and celebrating what and who we say goodbye to, living fully in the present, and preparing for the future. Transition is about a sacred journey –a journey we will be blessed to share together.

There are many Hebrew words for transition:
Ma’avar-  to cross over, to pass through.
Shanah-  to change.
Chaluf-  to move on.

Jewish people throughout history have made many transitions. We’ve transitioned from slavery to freedom, from the children of Israel to the Jewish people, and from a state of oppression to people who live rich and fulfilling lives throughout the world.

With clergy, staff, and each other, our congregation has created history. In the past few years, we have shaped our collective voice in social justice, started down the path of relational Judaism, and have created community around worship, learning, and social interests. We have crossed many hurdles together.

During the next few months we will say goodbye to two clergy members who have led from their hearts and have contributed to who we are as a congregation. As we say goodbye to them both as people and leaders, we cross over into a new chapter for our Temple. All of us will be part of this new chapter and our Transition Team will guide the way.

Another word related to transition is geshirah, which comes from the word gesher, a bridge.

I view the Transition Team’s work as creating bridges — bridging from one senior rabbi to another, one leadership team to another. All of us will be navigating new relationships, and we will all need to build constructive bridges for this to happen. Our transition is not just about our new rabbis – it is about the journey we take together as a congregation.

As William Bridges shares in his book about managing transitions, we will say good bye – not only to Rabbi Judy and Rabbi Jonathan – but also to things we may not even be able to identify right now – things that have become norms, habits, and expectations—that with new leadership will change. We will engage in activities that will help us adapt as we enter the neutral zone and experience discomfort. And we will together prepare ourselves for what the future holds – new opportunities – our new chapter.

I ask for God to bless us with the clarity to see what is truly important, the wisdom to make good choices, and the courage to approach this crossroad together.

Modim Anachnu Lach – I am grateful to be working as your executive director and look forward to the bridges we will build.

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