The Bitter and the Sweet: From the September Monthly

Dear Friends,

What a summer it’s been.

War in Israel and Gaza, atrocities in Syria and Iraq, an epidemic in West Africa, violence in Ferguson.  We’ve been watching suffering around the world, and worrying, too, about our own safety: about Israeli children in bomb shelters, about Americans abroad, about Jews in Europe facing anti-Semitism.  So much pain, so much fear, so much hatred that we thought the world had moved beyond.

I read the news with a heavy heart all summer, and the sadness felt both so deep and also so incongruous with my own day-to-day life, because for me, it was also a summer full of joy.  On one Shabbat in July, I announced my own engagement, heard the happy news of another Beth David member’s engagement, and had the pleasure of officiating at the aufruf, or pre-wedding blessing, of a young man who grew up at Beth David, and his fiancée. A few weeks later, I celebrated the one year anniversary of my arrival at Beth David, then as your interim rabbi.  Who would have guessed that a year later, I would still be here, partnering with so many of you to envision Beth David’s bright future, and preparing to celebrate a second High Holy Day season with you.   I look forward to celebrating with all of you at the oneg on September 5th, and especially at my installation on September 19th, when one of mentors, as well as one of my dearest friends – a rabbi who grew up at Beth David – will be our guests for Shabbat.

Al hadvash v’al haoketz, a popular Israeli song begins, “The honey and sting, the bitter and the sweet… my good God, watch over all of them.”  Al kol eileh, for all of these, for all of this bitterness and all of this sweetness, we need Rosh Hashanah.  The holiday of honey calls us to celebrate what has been sweet in the past year, and to begin the new year with a leap of faith that in the coming year, the sweet will outweigh the bitter.  For all of you whose lives have been sweet this year, may that sweetness multiply in the year to come; for all of you whose lives have been embittered, may the new year bring you a new start, a new hope. Kein y’hi ratzon– may this be God’s will for us, and for all the world, in the year ahead.


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