This summer, I will turn 45. Like any number, 45 is the sum of other numbers. The achievement of living 45 years is, like any other number, a biological function of survival.
However, three of the great blessings of my life celebrate anniversaries this year, and by adding together the sum of those numbers, I arrive at 45. It is clear that I have lived a life filled with Godís grace and the remarkable opportunities I have been fortunate enough to recognize.
Twenty years ago, Ann and I were married. It still amazes me that so young a woman could see enough potential in an unemployed and loosely-directed person like me to take a chance on life together. Looking back, we both recognize that as much as we were in love, we did not know what love could be. We continue to discover loveís depths and nuances with each passing year.
Fifteen years ago, I was ordained a "Rabbi, Teacher and Preacher in Israel" by the Jewish Theological Seminary. I had a diploma, a supply of chutzpah and a secret insecurity to show for it. Entering the world of service to Jewish community, I learned that to be a rabbi, one must love three things: God, Torah and Jews. The Seminary trained me to love Torah. And slowly I have opened myself to love God. By far, the hardest love to cultivate is a love of Jews. I donít mean "the Jewish people." I mean the parade of humanity made up of individuals with only that one thing in common.
The process has been made so much easier by my ten years of service to Agudas Achim. So I have grown with this congregation, I have discovered a deep appreciation for each and every one of you, even when we find ourselves at odds. I have never been disappointed in our willingness to support each other, and to set aside personal differences for the needs of others. When we fall short, you have been my teachers in introspection and teshuvah. I count myself as the most fortunate of rabbis.
Please join me on Shabbat morning, June 21, as I celebrate these three anniversaries. In their honor, I am sponsoring the kiddush.
And, while I seek no personal gain beyond the blessings I celebrate, I would be most touched if you choose to acknowledge my good fortune by contributing to our building fund. It is where all my blessings converge.