Well….here we are.  For the very first time, it is my great privilege to be able to say: Shabbat Shalom.

I cannot begin to express how honored and humbled I am to be standing before you this evening, and to set off on this incredible journey with you.  I am excited for all that the future holds for us, and I pray that our partnership is a meaningful one that is rooted in a shared desire to deepen our commitment to Jewish learning and living, and that the end results of our work will be a reinvigorated sense of progressive Jewish identity in the 2st century, coupled with a heightened awareness of our connection and responsibility to all of those in need - here within our own Scarsdale Synagogue family, in surrounding Westchester County and the New York metropolitan area, in Israel, and around the world.

I bring greetings this evening from my wife, Amy.  She and our two children, our almost six year old daughter Siona and almost two year old son Avi are home together, but they are all anxious to meet you and begin getting to know you, as I am, in the coming weeks and months.

If you’ll excuse the formality of this, I do want to make a point of thanking a number of people who have made this moment possible.  To Ellen Baken and Steve Eigen, the co-chairs of the Search Committee, and the other members of the search team: all I can say is – you showed incredible wisdom and discernment in making your choice!  I can only hope that I live up to the potential that you saw in my candidacy.

To Ellen Plum Rosenberg, our Past President who is travelling in Europe at this very moment, and Ellen Baken, our new President: thank you for your incredible friendship and support over these last few months as we have worked together to begin to forge a vision of how we will bring the next chapter of SSTTE’s history to life.

I want to thank the entire staff for their patience and encouragement over the last few months, and this past week.  I want to particularly thank Cantor Becker, Gary, Jody, Becky, and Ivy for the many phone calls and emails in which they have kindly begun to brief me on the state of the congregation.  I am so looking forward to working with all of you.

I want to thank Rabbi Gordon, who was so very menschy during these last few months, as he shared the details of his portfolio with me.  I know that you join me in wishing him much luck as he and Brian begin their next chapter on Long Island. 

Finally, a brief word about Rabbi Klein.

As you may know, it is exceedingly rare in the synagogue world today for a rabbi to spend more than three decades with a single congregation.  The length and breadth of his tenure speaks volume about who he is as a person and as a rabbi.  And it also says a great deal about who you are as a community.  It is impressive…and as Rabbi Klein’s successor, it is indeed humbling.  To say that I have substantial shoes to fill would be the understatement of the year.  I join all of you in congratulating Rabbi Klein on his many years of service to you, and Amy and I wish him and Joanne good health and much fulfillment in all of their days ahead.  



As some of you know, Rabbi Klein has decided to create a little bit of space and distance – to allow me to get situated, particularly here in the sanctuary – over the next six months.  I am most appreciative of his generous and compassionate understanding of the challenges associated with being the new rabbi, and I – like you – look forward to being able to greet him and welcome him back to this sanctuary in January.

Our lives are marked by a cycle of transitions.  In our family lives, our work spaces, and here in our synagogue: we are regularly faced with change.

Mourning the loss, or ending, of anything in our lives is never easy.  Saying goodbye to the people, things, or institutions that we associate with our past is disorienting…and breeds anxiety because we have no idea what the future holds.  That which is new is frightening.

But new beginnings are also filled with new potential and possibility. 

At its essence, this is what Shabbat is all about. It’s the reason that we gather together every single week.  With a certain amount of sadness, we say farewell to the week that is ending.  But with hope, and optimism, we set this one day aside each week in order to renew ourselves, and prepare ourselves, for the new week, and the new chapter, which lies before us...



***


"New Beginnings" by Gertrude McClain

It's only the beginning now

...a pathway yet unknown
At times the sound of other steps
...sometimes we walk alone

The best beginnings of our lives
May sometimes end in sorrow
But even on our darkest days
The sun will shine tomorrow.

So we must do our very best
Whatever life may bring
And look beyond the winter chill
To smell the breath of spring.

Into each life will always come
A time to start anew
A new beginning for each heart
As fresh as morning dew.

Although the cares of life are great
And hands are bowed so low
The storms of life will leave behind
The wonder of a rainbow.

The years will never take away
Our chance to start anew
It's only the beginning now
So dreams can still come true.

 


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