I write to ask your help during my sabbatical, which begins on May 3. As you know, I will be unavailable in my role as rabbi during the entire three months. So I ask each of you to take just a little bit of my responsibility during that time. Keep an eye out for those in short-term need – those who are ill, those having trouble navigating a rough patch, those who could use a kind word or a bit of attention. These are the kinds of things we do for each other anyway, and so I have no doubt you will be admirable in compensating for one voice. Thanks.
I also ask you to be protective of the authority vested in me by the tradition and the congregation. In conversations with some folks planning for my absence, I have been told of requests that some matters of ritual practice be changed. The requests are few (and most of them pretty good), but the presumption is that they can be instituted when I am not around. Any good suggestion (that meets an halakhic standard) is discussed by staff and, when appropriate, a lay committee. Please hold suggestions for my return; while the Hazzan is competent to consider the implications, our respect for each other is such that we do not make changes without mutual consultation.
And lastly, I need your help in making my away-time productive. I would be interested in hearing from you on three matters. To that end, I have set up a dedicated e-mail account, and I invite you to write to it any time between now and the middle of June. (If you don't have e-mail, please send a written copy of your input to Jada at the synagogue, who will forward it to my computer.) This account will function as an in-box ONLY – I will not be responding to what I receive. Please sign your mail (not merely include the return address).
The address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And the questions are these:
You may write anything you like, but here are some hints. First, if you have a personal criticism of someone, please phrase it constructively. L'shon hara is never appropriate. Second, please be concise. I hope I receive many communications, but if a single answer goes longer than half a page, please edit it down to its essence. I wouldn't want to have to extend my sabbatical just to read what you wrote! Lastly, please do not try to instruct me in traditional Jewish sources. Those resources are available to me. What I do not know is how you think and feel – and why.
- What are the three best things about our congregation?
- What are the three areas of improvement most needed at our congregation?
- (Here's the biggie:) How should our tradition – and, obviously, our congregation – approach the call for the enfranchisement of gays and lesbians?
I look forward to hearing from you and sharing with you some of my thoughts upon my return.
PS – Due to problems with the server, my long-time address email@example.com seems to be out of commission. My synagogue address (which will not be checked during my sabbatical) is: firstname.lastname@example.org.