"It’s not about how much a person makes, but about how much a person gives of themselves."
As one of your Rabbis, as well as a member of the Temple Beth Sholom family, I want to take this opportunity to share my unique perspective about the importance of the meshing of my professional life and personal life within this warm congregation. It's the reason that I strongly believe in the importance of the Legacy Endowment Campaign, and why I made my gift.
As many of you may already know, I grew up in the small Midwestern town of East Lansing, Michigan, where I attended a high school of over 1,000 students, of whom only six were Jewish. My great-grandparents were one of five founding Jewish families that established the synagogue there. It was Reform on Friday night and Conservative on Saturday morning. There were different clergy, prayer books and families attending the services. My family was committed to Judaism, continuing our legacy at that Temple and were extremely involved members. It was a meaningful spiritual and educational upbringing, including participating in youth group, Junior Choir and camp to connect to other Jews.
Somehow, I always knew I wanted to be a Rabbi, to connect to people and Judaism through community and authentic relationship building. Following graduating from the University of Michigan and being a program director at a Miami synagogue, I pursued the rabbinate at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles.
Upon returning to Miami Beach, I was drawn to Temple Beth Sholom because of its passion toward youth and inclusion of all types of families. I loved the philosophy of servicing families as a whole, not just individuals...including interfaith families, GLBT partnerships, single parents, Jews of color and the international population. Here, everyone could be unified in one prayer space, just as where I grew up, so it was natural that this became my spiritual home.
One of my most touching experiences is how the congregation came together to support me when Ezra was born. All sorts of assistance, from meals and toys to emotional encouragement, were so appreciated. For the first time, I learned what it meant to accept others' help. After placing Ezra in the Foundation School, I learned what it meant to trust our community. The teachers and staff are just as much a part of my family as the congregants in the seats on Shabbat. My hope for him is that wherever life takes him, one day he will feel as proud about his synagogue as I feel about ours.
Making a gift of any size is significant, because I believe it is representative of your commitment to yourself and our Jewish heritage. I wanted to give back for all I received, not only for how much I enjoy being your Rabbi, but because I also am so enriched by being a member.