Practice makes progress. Progress builds momentum. Momentum produces excitement. And, excitement creates inspiration. And inspired I feel about our first two weeks together. Your presence at Shabbat prayer and a house of mourning, at meet & greets and one-on-one visits, and for good measure, our fledgling Talmud study last Saturday. The support of our senior staff, office team and custodial crew. The contributions of our volunteers. All these practices have initiated an inspiring beginning.
Another best practice took place the other night, as the executive committee and I engaged in an important conversation about transition. Transition is a big deal. Transition is not just about moving to a new city. Or living in a new home. Or unpacking boxes or shifting furniture around. Transition is about beingpresent.
Transition is about feeling the feelings that fuel the excitement and anxiety of change. And, transition is about being planful and mindful about what we’re going to do in this season of change. Leadership and I reflected on what we expect the first 100 days of my tenure to look like and committed some goals to paper. When we’re ready to share with you more of the details, we will be happy to do so. In the meantime, the primary goal is to connect with you. To say hello. To learn more about your journey, what inspires you to make a difference in life. To ensure my presence as your new senior rabbi is palpable and consistent. To begin building together our shared commitment to Emanuel’s success.
Last Shabbat, we began Talmud study with a blessing for learning, la’asok b’divrei Torah, which thanks God for making us holy through our engagement with the words of Torah. And then, we studied mishnah Peah, which teaches us that talmud Torah, the study of Torah, leads to the practice of other mitzvot, like kibud av v’eym (honoring our parents), g’milut chasadim (acts of lovingkindness) and ha’va’at shalom bein adam l’chaveiro (bringing peace between two people). We learned that our engagement in Torah is ultimately a practice of caring, respect and doing the right thing, or being a mentsch. Thus going forward, may our practice of mentschlikeit make important moral progress. And may our progress build powerful communal momentum. And may our momentum produce purposeful excitement. And, and may our excitement create enduring inspiration. Kain yehi ratzon! (May God will it!)