Dear TRT Family,
Greetings from Massachusetts! I cannot believe it has been more than half a year since I have seen you, either at the “Drive-Bye,” the Gala or online at services and classes. Sometimes it seems like it was just yesterday, and other times it seems like a very, very long time ago.
We are well and keeping busy. Shira continues her work – virtually, of course – with the Red Cross, and I am now involved with Volunteers in Medicine, a wonderful clinic which cares for people regardless of their financial or immigration status. My first task is to learn Spanish so I can converse with the clients, y estoy estudiando todos los dias. In addition, two of our children and our two granddaughters are living with us, so life is not boring!
I have also been in close contact with Tmima Grinvald and with my colleague and friend, Rabbi Malinger, who have kept me informed about the plans for the future. I am encouraged and excited by the possibility of creating a new, vibrant congregation encompassing the best of Temple Rodeph Torah and Temple Shalom, and I would like to tell you why.
Years ago I gave a sermon about my Mission Statement for TRT. It combined the very old with the very new: “Study, prayer and acts of lovingkindness with passion and joy.” If you think about what brought you to TRT and what kept you here, I think you will find it fits into one or more of these ideas. In my conversations with Rabbi Malinger I have long found a kindred spirit – someone who truly “gets it” and who is committed to these same goals.
Study: TRT’s commitment to lifelong Jewish education will be reinforced and enlarged in the new congregation. Substantial time, energy and resources will go into creating an educational program for everyone from ages zero to 100. Our staff will be an important part of that work, as will the input of all our volunteers.
Prayer: Both Rock Shabbat (TRT) and Friday Night Live (Shalom) will be the foundations for continuing to explore new, engaging worship experiences. Again, this will include both staff and volunteers, so if you have loved what we do at TRT, I hope you will not only participate but also offer to lend a hand to create more of the innovation for which TRT is known.
Acts of Lovingkindness: While Rodeph Torah has a long and proud history of community service on a local level, Temple Shalom’s focus has been more global. I am thrilled that Rabbi Malinger believes the future should be based on both approaches, using the combined resources to repair the world on the micro and macro scales. Which means that whatever your interest is, you will find like-minded people who want to work with you on this holy task.
On a personal level, I have known Rabbi Malinger for over 20 years. We have worked together in our joint high school, we have studied together and we have supported each other along the way. I cannot imagine a better rabbi to carry this new congregation into the future, and I pray you will give him the same support and love with which you have blessed me for all our years together.
I am sure the closing of our building is difficult for you; it is for me, too. One of the first things Rabbi Malinger asked me was to make a list of the things that represent TRT, so they may be incorporated into the new (and newly-named) congregation. I won’t give away the surprises, but I think you will be pleased with the results!
When the pandemic recedes, please God, the plan is to have a formal dedication of this new congregation. Rabbi Malinger already asked Shira and me to participate in that event, and we both said we would be truly honored and excited to take part. It is my sincerest wish that you, too, will be there – as passionate, joyous, active members of this new kehilla kedosha – this sacred community.
Please allow me to leave you with this thought: At the end of Fiddler on the Roof, when everyone is forced to abandon Anatevka, there is seldom a dry eye in the house. “So much is ending,” we all think. And yet, while the future was unknown to them, most of the real-life people who left Eastern Europe ended up in the United States, where they (we!) built the most successful, vibrant Jewish community in history. Their future was not bleak, it was beautiful. This is my wish and my prayer for each of you: that your Jewish lives will build on the foundation of Temple Rodeph Torah and create something even more beautiful, even more holy… together.
With deepest love, and with prayers for health and peace in our country,
Rabbi Don Weber, Emeritus