If you have attended a Friday evening service at TKE this summer, you have no doubt heard me speak about some of the challenges of being a new rabbi. These challenges are not really that challenging. Let me explain - when you love the life you live and the work you do, challenges are just a part of the "learning curve." New rabbis find themselves in new situations all of the time...and while we do our best to "do everything right," sometimes it is genuinely hard to decipher if we are doing the "right thing." Thank God I have a great support group here - Rabbi Steven Lebow, Sherri Parman, Denise Jacobs, Evy Eckber, Jane Aronoff, and of course my first line of support - Batya! Of course, there are many others that have stepped up to make me feel welcome and help guide me through this new adventure.
One of the areas I find most challenging as a new rabbi is: Deciding what to write, blog, or "Facebook" about. There are so many current events and so many "controversial" things going on. Now, I know there are certain areas I do not venture into: Politics being the biggest one. However, one of the greatest challenges (as well as a blessing) is the adventure of getting to know as many of my TKE congregants as quickly as possible. I want to learn about who they are and what makes them tick. I am interested in learning what is important to my congregants and engaging them where they are. Truth be told, I do not really expect to get a lot of "work" done at Yogli Mogli on Mondays...I just hope to meet congregants and get to know them. After a while, once I have had the opportunity to listen and observe, I will be able to know what subjects/topics interest my congregation...and which topics they are most challenged by.
Anyone who knows me knows that human rights and social justice are of utmost importance to me. You can see that in my blog, on my Facebook page, in the bumper stickers on my car, etc. However, what is most important to me is just not as important as what is most important to those I serve and who are in my community. So, let this be a request: find me, engage with me, teach me, allow me to get to know you. I am VERY interested in who you are and what makes you excited, scared, angry, etc. Let us learn together about each other...and then go from there!
As I was having lunch with Sherri Parman, the President of TKE today, we were discussing all of the wonderful and amazing programs our congregation and congregants are involved with. Do not just go to our website for the heck of it. Go to www.kolemeth.net and learn about these programs. Play around, explore and get to know us. Here are just a few examples of the amazing work the members of TKE are involved in:
1) Outreach to Interfaith & Jews by Choice: We have an amazing atmosphere here in which everyone is welcome. Just speak to any of our "newer" members about why they chose to join our community.
2) Habitat for Humanity: We are involved with an interfaith network that builds homes for those who are in need. It is an amazing opportunity to take care of those in need in OUR community.
3) We are an LGBTQI inclusive community: Everyone is welcome, period!
4) MUST Ministries: Our congregants are very active with this organization, making food during the summer for those kids who depend on school lunch programs during the school year, and many other projects.
5) EVERY B'nai Mitzvah student develops their own Mitzvah project in which they find a way to give back to their community.
6) TKE participates in an Ecumenical service every year with our local churches, synagogues and mosques.
There are so many more. Really, the members of TKE lead by example. Their mission of giving back to the community can be seen in their programs, their welcoming atmosphere and most importantly in their desire to share, share, share.
Kol HaKavod! And, Baruch HaShem that I have been blessed to be a part of this community!