For me, writing comes easily. Words flow like water from my mind to my keyboard so rapidly that my fingers cannot keep up. Yet I am struggling with this last blog post as Senior Rabbi.
I write this post while on Kibbutz Kfar Blum in the Upper Galilee. I am with a large, kind, engaged, bright, fun and intergenerational Temple Beth El group. It was on this Kibbutz where I spent my tenth grade year. I am in the place that, more than any other, had an impact on my life. It was here that I grew from a kid into an adult as I lived independently for the first time. It was here that I fell in love with Israel. We learned about the land in the classrooms and while hiking and camping everywhere — from the Sinai desert to the Northernmost point. I made deep friendships with Israelis who taught me to value and live life fully and about the responsibility of defending the Jewish people. It was here that I experienced the First Lebanon War (which at the time was called Operation Peace for Galilee). Rockets were fired from Lebanon that shook the ground, stopped school for weeks, and required us to live in bomb shelters. I learned firsthand about Israel’s vulnerability and about how personal the death of victims of war can feel.
I returned to the States for eleventh grade and, because I knew Hebrew, was hired to teach religious school at a local Jewish Humanistic congregation. From that time on, I never stopped teaching and learning Hebrew and about Judaism and Israel.
It is now here, on Kibbutz Kfar Blum, that I psychologically prepare for another most significant transition in my life, moving from Senior Rabbi to Rabbi Emerita. It is too early to understand what this change means for my own life or for the life of Beth El. The Danish philosopher and theologian Kierkegaard taught that, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Life is about taking journeys that change us. All of us now embark on a new journey. I am excited to see the direction in which Rabbi Knight, our new Senior Rabbi, will lead us and I am excited to see where my own new role at Queens University will lead me.
Life is about growing. I know that Temple Beth El will grow in exciting ways. Rabbi Knight will bring a new vision and voice to our community.
Life is about learning. Rabbi Knight and Rabbi Klass, our new Assistant Rabbi, will bring to Beth El new and creative opportunities for study. Comfort can lead to complacency. Change requires reflection and intention as we choose our direction from which we inevitably learn a great deal.
For me, I am excited to learn how to teach college classes, to build a Jewish studies program, and how to vision and build the Greenspon Center for Peace and Human Rights that I pray will help Charlotteans make a difference in our community and country.
Life is about loving. Beth El provides opportunities for creating relationships where love can grow.
This afternoon, an adorable 10 year old named Rosie and I were talking on the bus ride up North. When I mentioned my leaving Beth El, she asked, “Temple Beth El will still be your Temple, right?”
Yes, Rosie. Beth El will be my Temple — not the Temple I lead from this point forward, but it will be my Temple and my family’s Temple, where I, like you, come to connect, to pray, to grow, to learn and to love.