Five years ago Jada Jackson joined our staff to handle all manner of office tasks, including keeping track of me and my eclectic schedule. The pace of her life was faster than mine - she was in school and holding down other jobs to meet living expenses and tuition. But somehow she managed to make it seem like the only thing she had to worry about was Agudas Achim.
In those years, you have shared a lot with Jada, and you have taught her a lot about synagogue life and the people who participate in it. Don't worry - all her schooling is directed to her own desire to be a pastor, and you didn't discourage her. (However, she did tell me she has ruled out Rabbinical School as her next challenge.)
In return, Jada has tended to your needs from the shul with integrity and competence and the kind of disposition that makes it a pleasure to talk with her, even about your synagogue bill. She has squeezed you into my schedule and protected my writing time simultaneously. She has made sure your babies were named, your children were married, your loved ones were respectfully buried. She has fed you, refreshed you, and almost burped you. And she has done it so expertly that you mostly didn't even know she was there.
Jada and I have also had the kinds of exchanges that colleagues in the ministry enjoy. I have been a footnote in many of her papers and a contributor to many of her speeches. She has explained a lot of Christianity to me and helped me when I needed important references in her tradition, including the lyrics to "I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ" (it's a long story...). She has listened to me and I have listened to her, though she has tolerated what she's heard a lot better than I deserved.
Jada is leaving us to work with a non-profit in the District that provides a place for kids in a rough neighborhood to discover their talents and potentials by supplementing their school education. It is a big step forward for her career and a big step forward for those kids to have her around. She left her full-time position with us at the end of May, but will stick around part-time until we can find and train someone to take her responsibilities.
I will miss her, and you will miss her. But even if she's off the premises, she'll always have a place in our hearts.