Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Divrei Harav -- December 2010

Divrei HaRav – Words from Weisman

The writing of my column this month demonstrates how we Jews live in time, perhaps better than we even realize. Even as we live in the present, we are constantly looking back to our past for guidance and inspiration, and ahead to the future with hope and faith. The three items I MUST mention this month all show that clearly.

I begin with a look back, that ends as a look forward. As I noted in November’s column, I was writing BEFORE the dinner celebrating our 10 years together as Rabbi and congregation – even though you read those words after the dinner occurred. So I deliberately left my response and thanks until now.

I cannot remember too many other times in my life when I have found myself as moved by words directed at and about me – truly humbled, and for a few moments, genuinely speechless. I was moved by the volume of us who celebrated together – and the many others who could not make it who took the time to send well wishes and regrets – your mere presence and effort is, in fact, what we were truly celebrating.

I want to thank those who spoke – Rev. James Brassard of CCPC, Rev. Dick Stetler (ret.) of St. Matthew’s UMC, and my dear friend – and ours – Khalil Shadeed of the Islamic Society of Southern Prince George’s County, who all started us off with a combination of well-deserved roasting and serious commentary. I hope those of us who gathered recognize how fortunate we are to have these three leaders in our community, and how fortunate I am to have them as colleagues, friends, and co-conspirators. Lisa Gottman, our newest member, our URJ congregational representative, and a family member since her sister and I memorably traded our siblings for each other one evening during an alleged study session while in Rabbinical school, brought congratulations and comments from some of my Rabbinic and other colleagues who could not be in attendance – each of whom has personally enhanced our life here at Solel during these past 10 years, for which I thank her as well. In Mary Nusser’s remarks, we all got a sense of the caliber of partners that I and we have in the community when it comes to doing what is good and right, and I thank her as well. And how do I thank my father – not just for his incredible comments, but for 50 years of teaching and love and support -- and modeling what I hope I have become!

And, of course, a HUGE thank you to the committee, led by Bob Michelson, who, along with Sharon, created that wonderful montage of the last 10 years. They were greatly enabled by my family, working hard behind the scenes, who I so rarely get to thank in public!

The truth that I learned during the dinner, and immediately shared in my remarks, is simple and two-fold. First, no one celebrates the anniversary of an individual. Anniversaries are the celebration of a partnership, a marriage, that works well. We, as Rabbi and congregation, are that. And second, no matter how much time and energy is spent looking backward at such events, the true celebration at such times is in the incredible hope and potential that is so easily seen and recognized at such moments as we look ahead and dream of what we might accomplish together in the NEXT ten years.

Second, as you read this, Chanukkah comes early to our secular calendars this year. Under separate title in this month’s Topics, you will find a Chanukkah article. Suffice it to say here that, perhaps more than any other Jewish holiday, Chanukkah is a reminder of our past that has become a measuring stick of our present, and harbinger of our future.

And third, as I write this, I am up to my eyeballs in the final planning for David’s Bar Mitzvah celebration. As a result, as I did last month, I will, of necessity, hold off for next month my full remarks and thank yous.

In all three of these elements, there are links to past and future as we celebrate in the present. In my writing about them at this moment, we look back to last month, at what is happening at the moment of writing in the very present, and ahead to the near future that will be our present by the time you read it. As Jews, our past and our future, however near or far term, are never easily separated from the reality of our present – if only we allow ourselves to make the connections. May our holiday season this month be a constant reminder of that truth, guiding us in our actions.

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