Standing on the parted shores of history
We still believe…
that wherever we go, it is eternally Egypt
that there is a better place, a promised land;
that the winding way to that promise passes through the wilderness.
That there is no way to get from here to there
except by joining hands, marching
—from Mishkan T’filah: A Reform Siddur
By now I expect that anyone reading this column has heard that I will not continue in my current role as Temple Or Hadash’s long-distance rabbi beyond the end of my current contract in June. (If you haven’t, take a look at President Rick Grabish’s column in this newsletter.) What does this mean? You may well ask. The truth is, as Rick explained at a November 24th congregational meeting, it’s impossible to know for certain right now. If you find this frustrating or confusing, I am sincerely sorry. And I empathize!
This is the nature of the arrangement I entered into, along with my family, when I first agreed to become your rabbi. And so, I feel, an explanation is in order.
The short version is this: I am still your rabbi, through June at the least, and I remain as committed to your individual Jewish journeys, and the strength of this congregation as a whole, as I have ever been. My husband Alec and I continue to search for a way to make our relocation possible. Should we succeed by June, this whole conversation will be moot. We will move to Colorado, and I will continue as your rabbi. Should we not succeed in our search, I will remain a friend and resource to your community and one of your greatest fans. Will the arrival of June without a Kassoff family move bring an end to the possibility that I may one day be your rabbi again, that my family’s path might bring us to Fort Collins? There’s no way to predict the future, but for now the board and I remain open to all possible outcomes, and my sweet and supportive husband has committed to further cultivating his network and searching for job opportunities, even beyond June, as long as this continues to be the case.
I will be forever grateful for the generous opportunity I have enjoyed to serve and accompany this exciting, energetic, and exceptionally welcoming congregation at such a critical point in your development. I pray that you have found the relationship thus far even half as rewarding as I have. I pray that it will endure.
As I was returning home from my last visit to Fort Collins on November 18th, I received the stunningly bad news that a cousin’s 20-year-old daughter had been killed in a traffic accident over the weekend. As I write this, I am returning with Alec and our girls from Anna’s funeral in Illinois. We are heartbroken.
If I wasn’t already committed to an awareness of life’s uncertainty and fragility, and therefore to a life lived in faith, I would be now. The God I believe in neither causes car wrecks nor allows them to happen; my God does not determine anyone’s opportunities or choices. But I do believe, as a wise Or Hadash lay leader once reminded me, that “God provides”; I would only add, “for those who have faith.” Call it God, the universe, or one’s own best judgment: whatever we feel is guiding our steps, we can only trust in it and walk bravely into the future—or risk paralysis by pain, fear, and doubt. Life is uncertain, but resilient. It stubbornly persists, though separated from death, its own destruction, by nothing more than a hair’s breadth. Somehow, Anna’s sister and her parents will go on. We all will.
With the gathering darkness heading into midwinter, we increase our Hanukkah lights each night. We acknowledge our reality, yet we neither despair nor surrender.
There is of course no comparison between the challenge that we now face as rabbi and congregation and the loss that my extended family has just experienced. Except that the only thing any of us can do in the face of our imperfect and unpredictable world is to join hands, marching together, trusting that we will somehow get from here to our better place. Even if it turns out not to be where we expected.
I hope you will share any questions or concerns you may have with me and/or our president Rick Grabish. We will address them as best we can. Wishing for us and all the world the miracles of light, of shalom—wholeness and sufficiency—and faith.
gam zeh ya’avor,