Just as we settle into a summer routine, it is suddenly Elul and the upcoming holy days begin to loom on the horizon. Elul is a time for looking both forward and back, as if we were each the mythological Janus. The curse of Janus, of course, was that he could never live in the moment – but Elul challenges us not to forsake the here-and-now for the was-and-will.
A nice homily about your soul would be appropriate, but my first concerns are much more mundane. Come September, the synagogue will be up and running at full staff again. This month, some may look longingly at some aspect of our prior year and others may have specific expectations for the coming year. What is most important is to remember to live in the moment.
I am excited to be working with Benjy Cohen, our new educator. Benjy has already made the search committee look good; his insight into the strengths and needs of our program are keen and his ability to think out of the box has impressed me. Aside from his professional credentials, he is a delightful person with an equally delightful family.
Most of you have had the opportunity to meet Margalit Leora Dienstfrey, and all of you have treated our Hazzan with the right combination of joy and respect during her maternity leave. She returns to active duty on September 1.
Iris Henley and I have had our time away and our special challenges this summer (Iris got to supervise the heavy maintenance of the Valley Drive house in addition to her usual responsibilities). We are looking forward to the first full staff meetings in many months.
And David Sattler has taken the helm from Sharon Rosenblatt for the next two years. Working with David is a special joy and privilege for me; we have been friends for 25 years and there are few people I respect or enjoy more.
Those observations are reflections of the moment. In the months to come, the hopes and dreams they imply and the history they continue will be cast in new contexts, continually unfolding. Each step will be an adventure, each outcome a chance both to celebrate and to learn. We cannot be governed by the past nor seduced by the future. Instead, we must take the promise of the moment and use it as our guide through the paths of the coming year.
Maybe this homily applies to your soul as well during this month of penitence. Each new year is a renewed beginning; so is each day. May the joy of this moment of promise inform the journey ahead.