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So —as I type into my phone, my family is about to head up to NY for a winter break. These trips are uncommon for us; last NY trip was quite a ways back. So in a way, these trips also serve as markers, opportunities to reflect a bit.
We’ll be spending two shabbatot at the Forest Hills (Queens) Jewish Center, the shul where I interned as a senior at JTS in 1990 and served as assistant rabbi in ‘91 & ‘92. Way back when, (senior) Rabbi Skolnik’s oldest son was around ten years old, now he’s married, and a dad. So there definitely is the —where-did-the-years-go thing, but I’m also hearing an echo of my mentor telling me (I was the age of the other Rabbi Aaron) how I couldn’t really be-gin to understand most of the members of my shul unless/until I became a parent. And at the time I (a) didn’t want to hear it, and (b) had no idea of what he really meant —so there’s that, too. Put another way, guiding a shul (small or large) is much more complex than most of the the academics, the ancient texts, even the internships that make up the curriculum of rabbinical students.
Celebrating birthday #60 (?!) in shul was quite heartwarming and humbling —it’s a powerful expression of your patience and guidance as I’ve learned a lot from you —members of this shul —about the many pieces to the puzzle of leading a kehilla. If we (hopefully) are growing, all of us are works in progress. I’m blessed by many friendships here, and I know that —spiritually speaking —those relationships are the most valued coin of the realm.
Along the way we’ll meet up with old friends in Asheville, my brother and his family in Arlington. We all know how good it feels to catch up with friends from earlier chapters in the book. Life is short, and we simply cannot know what lies beyond the bend. And for that reason it’s important to recharge our batteries by circling back and checking in with the people and places that make us who we are.
We’re bursting with anticipation of Maya’s returning from a transformative semester in Israel (Kennedy airport on 12/25). From hearing her voice and reading her notes, it’s clear that she’s learned a lot, and she’s grown through this excellent Israel program. Her participation in this experience was made possible through the generous support of this kehilla. My words of thanks can’t adequately express my gratitude to you.What else? We’re looking forward to NY in all its adrenaline-soaked glory, certain holy grail type items of the Holy Land (babka, bagels, pizza —to name a few).
I hope everyone enjoyed a fun and light-filled Hanukkah. I look forward to catching up with everyone in 2019!
Love, Rav & Aaron & crew