Appreciating Blessings at a Time of Change
Rabbi Maurice, May/June 2011
As I write this, I find myself at a loss for words. After the long rains of winter, spring has finally arrived, and with it I have entered the home stretch of my tenure as one of TBI’s rabbis.
I find myself noticing and appreciating things at TBI with the heightened awareness of one who knows that soon I won’t be experiencing these moments, at least not in the same role. Sometimes this happens while we’re singing one of our beautiful songs in strong voice together during a Friday night service. Or as we celebrate each major holiday. Or when I’m giving a blessing from the heart to one of our b’nai mitzvah students. These days I often find myself looking at the faces of members of our congregation with an added sense of awe at the goodness and inner beauty that I see shining out from the people who form the web of community that makes TBI special.
I am bracing for the grief I know I will feel in letting go of my role as one of TBI’s rabbis, and at the same time I’m excited for the many good things that I sense are coming with this transition. I’m excited about Rabbi Boris Dolin – about what I’ve heard about him from colleagues and from people in our community who’ve met him, and about the chance I and my kids will get to learn from him in the years ahead. I’m looking forward to the chance to be a more present father to my kids, and the chance to spend more time writing, teaching at the university, and working on other projects. Perhaps most of all, I’m excited that our family will get to continue to make our home in Eugene, and part of that feeling stems from our love of TBI. When Melissa and I were making up our minds about whether to take the job I’ve held for the past 8 years, one of the things we realized was that if I hadn’t become a rabbi and we had moved to Eugene for other reasons, TBI was a congregation we would have joined in a heartbeat.
So let me close by reflecting back to you some of the things I cherish about our congregation. I love TBI’s mix of different approaches to Judaism. Granted, even as an eclectic congregation we are clearly located somewhere on the liberal end of the spectrum of Judaism. Within our tent one finds fantastic influences from different streams of Judaism: uplifting music and joyful prayer; studious rigor and discussion; passion for social justice and inclusivity; a love of Israel that’s capable of handling mature discussions about peace and justice in the region; and a commitment to environmental responsibility. Our Senior Rabbi is a diamond and our Board is hard working, constructive, and highly functional (not to be taken for granted!). Our facilities are beautiful and practical. Our staff gets along well and continually turns straw into gold. This is a beautiful community, one worth supporting and strengthening into the future. It was so before I had the good fortune to join it as a rabbi, and it will continue to be after I become a congregant. May we go from strength to strength!