Today is a very special day in my life as a staff member here at Emanuel. Three years ago today I walked into our building for the very first time.
My first impression of Emanuel on January 7, 2016 was one of comfort. Many of you know that I grew up within the friendly confines (Rabbi Marantz, that baseball joke is for you!) of Chicago's Jewish community, and I'm used to the easygoing feeling of walking into a synagogue that was built sometime between 1950-1970. My interviewer described a welcoming multigenerational community dedicated to maintaining the Schaalman legacy while also working to grow in many new directions, including the hiring of a new Senior Rabbi in advance of Rabbi Zedek's retirement. I think it's particularly special that Rabbi Marantz and I began our time at Emanuel within a week of each other. We have shared the opportunity to explore, grow, and evolve together.
I have learned so much from being a professional Emanuelite. My colleagues and our lay leaders serve as a prolific source of knowledge and inspiration. Working with the building committee to further the projects that improve upon and maintain the physical comfort of being present at Emanuel has been an amazing experience. Yesterday I attended the first meeting of a new partnership between local synagogues, the Community Safety Network, and the 24th CPD district. Our district has brought forward a team of officers whose sole job it is to provide additional support to synagogues in their area of coverage, including Emanuel, in the wake of last year's tragedy in Pittsburgh. Working with our facilities and security teams and lay leaders to make sure our community is welcoming, comfortable, and safe is one of the most fulfilling aspects of what I do.
With that in mind, I want to ask- what is your favorite thing about life at Emanuel? Is it the Cantor and the choir at High Holy Days? What about Dan's trivia during Share Shabbat, or religious school services on Sunday mornings, or WRJ events? One of the things I love most about our community is learning more about our congregants. Send me an email, and (with permission) I hope to share some of your responses later this week via social media.