“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
This past week, I was honored to be able to once again represent our organization at the graduations and ordinations of two of our educational institutions that we support through our Torah Fund campaign. These two events, remind of us why we do what we do! As we sat in the “mishkan” (tent) at both the Ziegler and JTS ceremonies, you are a witness to the accomplishments of our newest rabbis and cantors. As you read their stories, some have grown up in our movement attending day schools, camps, and trips to Israel while others have taken a much different path including leaving a career that no longer spoke to them. Yet at both ceremonies you could feel the emotion…the culmination of many years of study, the relationships and bonds that are formed between not only the students but their teachers as well. Yes, it is a new beginning as they each go out in the world as pulpit rabbis and cantors, Ramah directors and other endeavors….but it is also the realization that they have reached their goal and it is up to each graduate to now make their mark within the Conservative Movement. I have no doubt that they will!
Representing each of you is a personal thrill for me! Along with Rabbi Lilly Kaufman, Torah Fund director and Debbi Goldich, Torah Fund chair, we were welcomed with open arms in Los Angeles. We had very little time before we were sitting at the AJU (American Jewish University) graduation on Sunday morning. That evening there was a gala celebration for Ziegler as they celebrated their 20th anniversary honoring Rabbi Brad Artson, Abner and Roz Goldstone and Norman and Lela Jacoby. It was a lovely evening giving tribute to those that were so instrumental in the creation of our rabbinical school on the west coast. Women’s League was front and center as both Roz and Lela welcomed us both publicly and privately…so glad that we were with them and of course we were so proud to be with everyone in PSW to help celebrate. The next evening was ordination for nine men and women that now have the title of “rabbi”. The ceremony was beautiful, meaningful and you could just feel the love in the room.
Without skipping a beat, Rabbi Kaufman, Debbi and I jumped on a red eye to ensure that we would be at graduation and ordination at JTS on Tuesday morning. And, the good news was that we made it! Again, we found ourselves in a “mishkan” witnessing young men and women graduating from the schools that make up JTS….we enjoyed the enthusiasm as the List College students received their degrees, and the quiet acceptance of doctoral degrees and everything in between. We were entertained by the choral group made up of our cantorial students which is always so amazing. Again, several hours later we were back in the mishkan witnessing our newest class of rabbis being ordained. Again you could just feel the connections between the students and their relationships with their teachers and mentors. This time we were witness to a private blessing between student and mentor…and even though we were not a part of the words you could see and feel the emotions, which brought tears to our eyes as well. As each student became a rabbi or cantor….the realization of the years of study and work to get there can be quite emotional. We were sitting next to a mother, and as she watched her son go from student to rabbi, she was sobbing…and it was contagious!
The week began and ended with wonderful sisterhood events….I was able to spend Shabbat with the Women’s League of Beth El in Phoenix. I would like to thank sisterhood president, Anne Zaslow and the sisterhood members for making me feel so very welcome. It was wonderful to see the women daven and lead services. I ended this amazing and very busy week attending an extraordinary region Torah Fund event in MetroNorth at the Orangetown Jewish Center. It was especially special for me as I met several of their sisterhood members and their rabbi in Israel at the Kotel, Kabbalat Shabbat in December.
Please check the WLCJ Facebook page as I know that over the next few days pictures of this amazing week will be posted. As I started my message this week…that it is a thrill for me to represent each of you…I am not sure that I have expressed how grateful I am to be able to be a witness at these ordinations. Though I may only know one or two of our new rabbis personally, just knowing that we have helped each of them, through our work supporting our Torah Fund campaign, to realize their dreams is just so empowering. And, I would not be able to experience this highlight of the year for me, without thanking each of you.
To those of you that have or will have children, grandchildren or other family members graduating in the days and weeks ahead, I wish you a hearty Mazel Tov!
Wishing each of you a peaceful and meaningful Shabbat,