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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Farewell to Beth Isaac Congregation

Shalom friends and family!

I am writing this post again from the Holiday Inn hotel in Trenton, Michigan - or more specifically, in Woodhaven! This has been my last Shabbat with one of my two student congregations. I started with Beth Isaac in September, 2008, and have had a tremendous year with them. We have studied quite a lot together, and I am very proud of their congregation.

I must say I am not sure how to properly thank them. I have learned an incredible amount from them. They have challenged me to become a better rabbinical student, and they have allowed me the creativity to grow. For that, I am incredibly thankful. They have treated my family very well, and for that I am also thankful. I leave this congregation a better student, having learned a great amount from them.

I do not like goodbyes, and I do intend to visit them in the future. I ended our dinner tonight by giving them all hugs and wishing them a very fond farewell. I leave them in great hands, as their student next year is an awesome rabbinical student, one that will teach them a lot, and one that will grow with them as well.

Shavuah Tov!


Friday, May 15, 2009

Wyoming "Rally in the Valley"

Greetings friends and family!

About 5 months ago, one of my friends, a firefighter in the Wyoming City Fire Department, asked me if I was interested in being the Chaplain for his fire department. After speaking with some people at HUC, and talking it over with Batya, I decided this would be an awesome opportunity. It's the real deal - I get the whole uniform, pager, even a badge! About 6 weeks ago, a police officer in the Lockland Police Force, Brandon Gehring, was struck by the car of another police officer involved in a high speed chase. PO Gehring happens to be the son of one of the firefighters in my department. A couple of weeks ago, we held a fundraiser in Wyoming, and I was asked to give an invocation. Here it is:

Invocation for Brandon Gehring

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Our God, God of our ancestors, we cry aloud to You. Answer us from Your Holy Mountain (Psalm 3:5). We gather together today as a community, seeking your guidance and support. O God, our Rock and our Redeemer, guide us as we continue to seek your help. We look to You, O God, to be our Hope. We know You are here for us when we need Divine support. At this moment, when we are sorely reminded of the fragility of life, show us Your kindness, mercy and grace.

Envelop the Gehring family, and all of us who support them, with Your love, as we pray for the healing of Brandon Gehring. Guide Brandon’s doctors as they work to restore his health. Send us the wisdom to surround the Gehring family with love and comfort. We ask also for You to protect West Chester Police Officer Kevin Burger and his family, surrounding them also with your love and support. As we learn in Psalm 46:2 - You are our refuge and stronghold, a helper very near to us.

In truth O God, we understand that at times there is a price to pay for bravery. But humanity is better because of men like Brandon and Kevin. They selflessly protect us, putting the needs of others first. So we join together in reverence and humility; inspired by their courage, and reaffirm our desire to help make this community stronger and safer. We recommit to extend our time, effort and patience in stewardship to this community. Enable us to move forward today, listening to Your holy words “May we enjoy, O LORD, Your faithful care, as we have put our hope in You.” (Psalm 33:22).

And let us say Amen!

It has been a tremendous experience working with this department! Actually, I am being sent to Hermitage, Pennsylvania on Monday and Tuesday for a 2 day training to become a nationally certified Firefighter Chaplain. I am happy to be working with the department, and I am incredibly thankful for this wonderful opportunity to learn another valuable set of skills!