By Rabbi David
(Editor’s note: Shari chose the photo from the archives)
If you’re reading these words during the start of June 2023, at this moment I’m leading TBE’s congregational trip to Israel. From my heart to yours, I send blessings from the Land of Promise! I eagerly look forward to sharing about our adventures when we return.
And, after over 13 years together, this month’s column is my last as the rabbi and spiritual leader of TBE. Even though the Board and I announced this transition back in March, these words feel as difficult to write today as my initial transition message months ago.
After all, there is no community like our Shul by the Sea. The depths and heights we’ve shared are precious and rare. The trust and intimacy, the authenticity of heart and spirit, the music, the learning and becoming, the perseverance through world-altering challenges, the renewed joyful Judaism (and even renewed parts of ourselves) that unfolded before us – they are the best reasons to be a rabbi.
So to our Shul by the Sea that helped make me a rabbi long ago, I will be forever grateful. I will carry you in my heart always. And to each and every one of you who led, Boarded, committeed, organized, shopped, sang, played, cleaned, donated, taught, called, supported, learned, schlepped, shared, struggled and showed up, please know that I am so very grateful for all that you have been and done. You are the beating heart of TBE.
Of course, transitions are inevitable: life’s only true constant is change. This hora’at sha’ah (revelation of this hour) asks us to fulfill its calling by summoning our very best. Judaism is a sacred pathway of good living, encoding ethics and inner wisdom that have kept the Jewish people not only alive for 3,500 years but also ever adapting, resilient and flourishing – no matter what.
In that spirit, and with complete faith in the community’s choices for its brightest future, I ask each of you to extend your hearts and hands to the next spiritual leader stepping forth as TBE’s interim rabbi. As I wrote in March and repeated often since, part of my reason to step aside was to make room for new “gifts and graces” to emerge. In your next leader, and in TBE’s community leaders, I am delighted to see that they have.
It’s time. In this year’s Torah cycle, the Book of Numbers has opened with its many sudden and often sharp changes – new places, new challenges to Moses’ leadership from inside and out, new community turbulence, new fears to move forward, and more. Nothing could stay the same: our spiritual ancestors would be redirected so that a new generation of leaders could arise. Even Moses himself would learn that he’d need to stay behind, unable to lead the community over the River Jordan toward the next horizon of our people’s ongoing journey.
The timing is uncanny – and, it seems, organically natural. Next month, a new rabbi will begin at TBE, bringing new gifts and graces. The runway to the High Holy Days of 5784 will appear, full of new opportunities and adventures. And for sure, new challenges will come: after all, change sometimes can be as difficult as it is constant.
Yet the whole point of the Book of Numbers, and Judaism, and all spiritual life, and this poignant moment, is that the human spiritual story continues on. Judaism evolves to shine and lead us forward toward the next horizon. New gifts and graces come, new revelations, new ways to be, new adventures, new pathways. Soon the Book of Life itself will open anew, the page will turn, and we will begin again.
Now and always, may the Holy One of Blessing continue to shine on TBE, our Shul by the Sea, and on each of you taking your next steps toward that next horizon. In the timeless words of this very week’s Torah portion (Numbers 6:24-26):
“May God bless you and keep you. May God light you up with grace. May God turn to you and give you shalom” – peace and completion, forever and ever.