August 2021 Bulletin Ref2

From Our Rabbi

Shalom, B’nai Sholom!

“You say goodbye, and I say, Hello!” B’nai Sholom is in yet another period of transition:  bidding a fond farewell to Rabbi Katz and welcoming me as your new rabbi. …And I do mean welcoming! From the thoughtful sign on the front door, to the beautiful flowers, to the greetings from the committees in the Bulletins, to calls, e-mails, advice and invitations from congregants, I have felt truly embraced by this community.

I understand, though, that even in the absolute best of circumstances, change of any kind can be difficult. Any exciting new innovation can simultaneously bring a pang of nostalgia for what was familiar. And we are all working through the joys and oys of reopening after COVID – getting to see friends in person; figuring out the technical logistics of an in-person/Zoom hybrid for services and meetings; re-identifying our own personal comfort levels with activities that were probably once automatic.

The Jewish calendar recognizes this transitional feeling as well. There are traditionally three weeks of winding down to Tisha b’Av (this year July 17-18), one of our lowest points of the year when we mourn the collective tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people. We then promptly shift gears and embark on seven weeks of consolation as we build up to celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the head of the new Jewish year.

In the last few Torah portions in the book of Numbers, the Israelites prepare for a transition of their own. Moses is told that his time leading the people will soon come to an end and he is instructed to appoint a successor:  Joshua. We learn over time that Moses and Joshua have different temperaments, strengths and skillsets. Moses is a (usually) humble prophet who is focused on the law and on shepherding his people safely through the desert. Joshua is an ambitious warrior, leading the Israelites to conquer and settle the Promised Land. Yet, despite – or perhaps because of – their dissimilarities, each manages to meet the needs of the people at the time.

Although I only officially started as your rabbi on July 1, I have been getting to know B’nai Sholom over the course of the last six months. I can already tell that it is a congregation of dedicated members and associates that values community, social justice and creating a space where everyone – not just new rabbis – feels welcomed. I am excited to take on this new role. While I do not claim to be either a Moses or a Joshua, I hope that, with your input and continued support, I can become the kind of teacher and leader that B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation needs as we navigate this next phase of the journey together.

May we go from strength to strength!

L’shalom,

 Rabbi Weisbrot

B'nai Sholom Albany NY