Rabbi Saks’ Letter to the Community about his future

December 16, 2016
By bethmordecai
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Rabbi Saks’ Letter to the Community about his future

Dear Hevreh,

My very first day as rabbi of Beth Mordecai, I excitedly penned an email entitled “DAY 1” to share the “first step” in my rabbinic journey at Beth Mordecai. Now, nearly 1700 days since that first email, I write this letter with very different emotions to tell you that the next step in my rabbinic journey will take me in a different direction, and that after June 30, 2017 I will no longer be the rabbi of Beth Mordecai.

I can’t even begin to consider the impact of all the days I’ve counted, all of the steps I’ve taken along my rabbinic journey with you. How can I truly relate the emotions of the times we’ve laughed together, cried together, grown together, and helped one another discover our Unique Torah? It’s just too much, and though I am looking forward to the next step in my rabbinic journey, I am also saddened that I will not be taking that next step with all of you. That’s why transitions often feel difficult, because the memories of what-was temper the promise of what-can-be. Yet, as we lean into this six month period of transition together – beginning with our Congregational Meeting on Sunday, December 18 th at 10:30 am – my hope is that we’ll be able to honor what we’ve done together as a stepping stone towards realizing our bright futures.

One way to do this is by appreciating the Unique Torah of our congregation. What is it about Beth Mordecai that is so unique, so incredibly powerful that it will carry the congregation well into the future and will leave a lasting affect on my personal rabbinate? As I think about my experience at Beth Mordecai and the legacy of this congregation for the future, I am drawn to a single short story that consequently, occurred much before my time as rabbi of Beth Mordecai. Its timelessness embodies the soul of Beth Mordecai that I encountered during our years together, and will surely strengthen the congregation well into the future.

The story is about Lou Sher’s grandfather. Many years ago he went looking for a shul for the High Holidays and was turned away by the orthodox congregation because he didn’t have a ticket. So he turned around and walked to Beth Mordecai, and they welcomed him in, even though he did not have a ticket. Ever since then Lou and his family made Beth Mordecai their home. That moment, like many, many others, that I’ve experienced, seen, and heard about exemplifies Beth Mordecai’s Unique Torah – to be a welcoming Jewish home for all souls.

That welcoming spirit which looked past collecting Lou’s grandfather’s High Holiday ticket, permeates the walls and shines through the beautiful stained glass windows of this historic home. It’s a spirit that wishes you Shabbat Shalom by your first name. It’s a spirit that welcomes Jews and people of faiths of all backgrounds and their families. It’s a spirit that doesn’t care if you’re a scholar or if you’re just beginning to learn about Judaism. It’s a spirit that welcomed Rachel and I over four years ago and has embraced us as we’ve grown our family with Jonah and Lilah. It’s a spirit that is generational, that is greater than one person, one family, or one rabbi. It’s a spirit that is bolstered by too many incredible leaders and volunteers to count who truly make this a Jewish Home for all souls.

So as I take my next step and say goodbye to my years serving as your rabbi at the end of June 2017, I am buoyed by faith in that welcoming spirit that Beth Mordecai embodies. More than anything, I am simply grateful to be part of this synagogue’s glorious history, to be given this opportunity by courageous and supportive leaders, and I look forward to visiting and witnessing the continued success of our Jewish Home for the Soul.

May God bless each of you and continue to bless our welcoming Jewish Home.

Kol Tuv,

Rabbi Ari Saks

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