Rabbi Perlin’s Final Weekly Email Message to our Congregation (June 22, 2018)
Every ending is also a beginning.
This is the Jewish way of looking at life. We conclude the Torah and then re-roll the scroll and begin anew with Bereishit/”In the beginning.” Moses carries the Israelites through their infancy as a people of Torah, and then new leadership takes over. L’dor vador, one generation leads into another and the history of our people is written in the transitions, those moments when we make the past sacred even as we forge ahead to fill the future with meaning.
It has been an honor to carry this congregation from its birth in the wilderness to its strength at 32 years of age. I feel confident in the values and minhag that we have created together. I look back on three decades of profound changes and incredible innovation and adaptation. So many things we take for granted were revolutionary in their time – a great example is that we were one of the first congregations to say Mi Shebeirach at every service, where I placed it in the service as there was no precedent. I am still amazed at how many congregations still do not recite this prayer that glues our holy community together in healing. Another is our custom of saying Kiddush and Motzi from the bimah on Friday night, because the lobby of Abiding Presence Lutheran Church was too small to hold all of our Shabbat worshippers and there was no other space at the church in those days. Thoughtfully and together, we evolved over the years into who we now find ourselves to be as TBS. And with my departure on Sunday at noon, you will begin a new chapter of the TBS Torah, filled with promise and possibility. Gary and I will be on a plane to Los Angeles so that I can officiate at the bris of my new grandson, Judah Barak Perlin, grandchild #6 in six years. Every ending is truly a new beginning.
Thank you for a lifetime of love and the ability to do sacred work. Thank you for a year of unbelievably thoughtful and generous farewell events, letters, gifts, and donations. Thank you for your trust as we sat together in my purple office, and as we shared your Jewish journeys. Thank you for enabling me to create a synagogue as I hoped it could be: inclusive, welcoming, prayerful, healing, meaningful, and filled with lifelong learning.
Thank you for giving me a sacred place for my own family, even as I created sacred space for you and yours. Gary, Jonah, Jacob, and I will always consider TBS our spiritual home. I spent time photographing our family milestones recorded in the plaques on the Tree of Life, and our loved ones’ plaques on the Memorial Wall yesterday. A synagogue Jew should have a life recorded, the joys and the sorrows, on the walls of the synagogue. I feel blessed that our lives are ever-present here on the walls of TBS.
One more Friday night Spartans dinner and Shabbat service, one more Bat Mitzvah, one more unveiling, and my time as your senior rabbi will be at an end. This means no more emails or counseling appointments, no more sermons or lifecycle ceremonies, no more emergency phone calls, home or hospital visits, or funerals, no more weekly teaching or writing of recommendations. As your founding Rabbi Emerita, I may be around from time to time, but the daily rabbinic tasks now belong to Rabbi Crystal and Rabbi Rappaport. It will be a transition for all of us, after so many years of intense connection. I am confident in Neil Seiden and your new Board, and I know that my staff will continue to keep TBS running, as they always do with excellence and devotion. Most of all, I trust that you, my beloved congregants, will stay members and be actively engaged in sustaining my legacy and the future of this congregation we love so dearly.
As I conclude my Torah with you as your senior rabbi, I say,
“Chazak, Chazak, v’nitchazeik! ~ Be strong, Be strong, and strengthen one another!”
With love and gratitude,
Rabbi Amy R. Perlin, D.D.
Founding Rabbi Emerita, Temple B’nai Shalom