There are so many things that could occupy our focus this week. The transfer of presidential authority. The Inauguration. Safety and security at home and abroad. Israel. But all will likely pale in comparison to the sadness we feel for Rabbi Schaalman and his dear family as we say goodbye to Mrs. Schaalman, who passed away peacefully on her 102nd birthday. The funeral was a beautiful tribute to her memory and legacy. And, it, along with the shiva minyanim, brought together many circles of friends from within the Emanuel family and allied with it. I am especially thankful to our Sisterhood and all the other volunteers who leaned in to support the Schaalmans in their grief. You are good friends. Mentsches, one and all.
As we go forward, focused how to make Lotte's life and loss matter, how to make her memory a blessing, and how to make a difference in a way that would make her proud, let us rededicate ourselves to the spirit of welcoming. Nothing will transform our congregation into a kehillah kedosha, a sacred community more than the art and practice of audacious hospitality.
In the words of my teacher, Ron Wolfson, if synagogues are to become "spiritual centers for many more Jews, then we must become passionate about opening our doors, encouraging people to come in, and welcoming them once they step across our threshold, without preconceived ideas about what they should or should not be." Lotte Schaalman embodied this openness. Let us build on her legacy. Zikhronah livrakhah! May her memory be a blessing.
Make it day of blessing and be a force for good.
Zie gezunt (Be well):
Rabbi Craig Marantz