After many hundreds of columns and thousands of words, here I am. The term for gratitude in Hebrew is hakarat ha-tov, which means “recognizing the good.” As I look back over 33 years of service to Congregation Beth David, I am grateful for so much, more than I can express in this short column.
The people of Beth David gave me the privilege of being part of their lives, and I am grateful.
There are many Jewish jokes about the difficulty of being a Rabbi, but for me, the positive far outweighs the negative. I have partnered well with every Beth David president, and worked cordially with every board. That doesn’t mean that we’ve always agreed, or that my opinion has always prevailed, but we always worked together with mutual regard. For that I am grateful.
Beth David has been blessed with a culture of respect and of mutual concern. I have tried to nurture that culture, but I didn’t create it, and I thank the members who have sustained it. I wish it were more common in American Jewish life and, for that matter, in American life.
I am grateful for my family: my late wife Beverly and my children Aliza, Benjamin and Rebecca, who had to share me with CBD, but who also were very much a part of this community. And I will never forget so many people’s kindness and support during Beverly’s illness and after her death.
People have asked me what I will be doing in retirement. I hope to write at least two books that I have been thinking about for a long time. I want to improve my photography skills and finally learn how to edit in on the computer. I want to travel. I have been exercising regularly and I intend to do that even more. I hope to visit my children and grandchildren Batsheva, Avital, and Nathan more often. I will be spending more time with my parents, still alive and in their 90’s. I will continue studying Torah (including unread books from my current library!). I hope to work in some capacity for the Conservative movement, to which I have devoted my life and which I treasure. And I look forward to sitting in the congregation and davening with you on Shabbatot and holidays, and enjoying our wonderful Rabbis’ words.
I have complete trust in Rabbi Ohriner’s ability to move Beth David forward, and I am delighted that my friend Rabbi Leslie Alexander will be his partner. I am excited about the opportunity to refresh and expand our building, and what it will mean for Beth David’s ability to effectively engage people in our community.
The greatest thanks, the most meaningful tribute you could give me is to continue your support of Beth David, to deepen your involvement with synagogue and Jewish life, and to walk forward as active partners with Rabbis Ohriner and Alexander in creating Beth David’s future.
There is so much more to say. But the summary is: I am so grateful for the privilege of teaching Torah, of sharing your lives, and the many acts of kindness I have seen along the way.
I finished my High Holy Day sermon with these words:
Judaism flourishes when we treasure it, when we learn its lessons of community and compassion. When we find strength from God and Torah. When we feel connected with Jews everywhere, especially in our miracle state of Israel. I have tried to impart Judaism’s joy and richness, its wisdom and guidance. Along the way I have learned much and known many wonderful people. Thank you for your support, your friendship, and your inspiration. May Congregation Beth David go from strength to strength.