Have you had the privilege of reading about Humphrey the Hamster?
Brought to life by author Betty Birney, Humphrey lives in the fictitious Longfellow School and is an engaging, wise, humorous, caring friend to all of his classmates in Room 26. He is endlessly entertaining and makes it his business to learn something new every day. He learns a lot through keen observation, is a great listener, and escape artist. He goes on many adventures (because when no one is looking he leaves his cage through the door with the lock that doesn’t lock) and always brings back an important life lesson to share with everyone.
Readers, along with Humphrey, learn that life is full of problems, wonders, and surprises. As an avid bedtime reader with my daughter, I am both amused and in awe of how Betty Birney vividly illuminates the emotions, thoughts, questions, and behaviors children and adults have about life’s perplexities and its ups and downs. Whether we are 9 years old, 90 years old, or any age in between, each and every one of us experiences happiness, sadness, frustration, and a whole range of emotions throughout our lives. Humphrey teaches us that there is no problem in our lives that is too big and that every situation gives us the opportunity to reflect, to learn, and to grow.
In my time as Temple Beth El’s Executive Director, I have met and worked with clergy, staff, lay leaders, congregants, vendors, and partners who have cared enough about our temple to give honest opinions about a variety of issues, engaged in dialogue, recognized complexities, provided leadership, and participated fully as partners in our mission.
Humphrey’s adventures help us to see the bright side of things and encourage us to accept that not everyone will think the same way or agree on every issue. After all, isn’t that what life is all about? And isn’t it okay, too, that we have not always agreed on everything over the past 3 ½ years? We wouldn’t be learning and growing if we did.
I would like to extend a big thank you to our clergy and staff (both current and former), the Board of Directors, the Community of Leaders, all lay leaders, all congregants, and all of my Shalom Park colleagues for your support, leadership, and laughter – and most importantly, for allowing me to continue to learn about life during my tenure at Temple Beth El. There are always lessons to be learned and new friends to make. I cherish the many friendships I have made here.
I hope everyone reading this blog will continue to pause, examine, and grow just like me, Humphrey the hamster, and his friend, Og the frog.