Ascending the Presidency of Ransaq, Nov. 13, 2013
Intro: Being President of the Rabbinical Assembly region of Nassau, Suffolk, and Queens is an awesome responsibility. I’ve just added another 120 or so bosses on top of my membership for now I am responsible to approximate 120 rabbis in our region. I appreciate their confidence in me. Since I don’t want all this power to go to my head, I’m taking seriously the following Hassidic lesson. According to Rabbi Bunim of P'shiskha, everyone should have two pockets, each containing a slip of paper. On one should be written: I am but dust and ashes, and on the other: The world was created for me. From time to time we must reach into one pocket, or the other. The secret of living comes from knowing when to reach into each.
Being a good Conservative Rabbi, I have updated Rabbi Bunim’s message specifically for me based upon my background. By now everybody knows that I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and spent the first 25 years of my professional life in Massachusetts. Since we’re in the middle of football season in one pocket I have a note that reads “I am a N.E. Patriots fan” and in the other “I am a Cleveland Browns fan.” And I think that should do the trick too.
I want to thank all of you for joining me and my board at our installation. I want to acknowledge the few colleagues who could break away from their busy Sunday schedule and join with us. I want to show my appreciation to my congregation for all their love and support. I envisioned just some coffee and cookies at the fellowship at the conclusion of the installation. My president didn’t think that was appropriate enough for the occasion and he suggested hor d’oeuvres and the Sisterhood and Kiddush committee thought that hor d’oeuvres wasn’t appropriate enough so they chose to serve a light dinner for all attending. I want to thank all the people who put today’s installation together. I am a very lucky rabbi to serve the Marathon JCC family.
You should know that I have a great board supporting me. As immediate past president, Rabbi Vernon has set the bar high for me as I follow him. I remind the extremely knowledgeable and capable Rabbi Wise that he is only a heartbeat away from the presidency. Rabbi Silverman and Rabbi Yaffe hold a special place in my heart for they are my Hevrutas, study partners. Not only do we study Talmud and Rambam’s Mishneh Torah together, we share and support each other in our work and life. Rabbi Benson has already done an admirable job as our corresponding secretary keeping our membership informed and hosting us for our very first meeting in the Sukkah by introducing us to Jewish without walls phenomenon. I am indeed a very lucky president.
Last and not least, I need to acknowledge my biggest cheerleader, my ezer kenegdo, and the love of my life, my wife Judy. Without her I’m nothing. My children had previous engagements that prevents them from joining with me today. I know that they are as proud of me as I am of them. I am a very lucky man.
The goal of my tenure is to implement the Rabbinical Assembly’s OurRA for our region. The national RA has realized that not only are we in a paradigm shift when it comes to Judaism, but also for our rabbis. We are a more diverse group of men and women than ever before. One size fits all no longer works. To meet the various needs of our colleagues, we now have 10 major focus points that will allow each individual to find the spiritual, vocational, and physical support he or she needs. I am excited that my board and I decided to be the catalyst in this endeavor to support one another.
I am hoping that the experience we gain helping our colleagues meet their Jewish needs will translate to our work with our congregations so that we become better rabbis for the Jewish people we serve in our here at home and throughout the world. I conclude with King David’s prayer in psalms:
וִיהִי נֹֽעַם אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ עָלֵֽינוּ, וּמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵֽינוּ כּוֹנְנָה עָלֵֽינוּ, וּמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵֽינוּ כּוֹנְנֵֽהוּ.
May Adonai our God show us compassion, and establish the work of our hands. May the work of our hands be firmly established. Amen