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Rabbi Message: February 21, 2021

We have faced 4 hard years. I try to stay in my boat of activism, connection and hope. But sometimes I find myself tipped over into the stormy waters of despair, fear and loneliness. Our tradition offers us powerful tools for resilience. Our daily prayer practices center love, hope and unity. Our calendar posts times to celebrate together and literally practice the simple skill of resting, disengaging from worldly concerns. At Temple Israel Greenfield, we have continued to gather to play and pray and study and learn and create. For myself and I hope for you, our programs have helped me stay in my boat and strengthen my keel.
Six and a half years ago, when I came to Greenfield, there were myriad opportunities. "Opportunities" is a nice way of saying "we were in need of a fresh start." Some relationships and trust had been broken. There was a need to focus on our core mission and a transparent process. The folks who helped TIG bridge from those challenging times to some new starts did so out of love of community, love of tradition and a commitment to Jewish life in Franklin. They were foresighted and stalwart. This team uncovered the problems, recovered a right orientation and helped us begin to discover a path forward.
The members who weathered that transition have all my respect and most continue to contribute to vibrant temple life in many ways. Since then, some of you reading this now tip-toed into my office saying:
'I want to know more about my Judaism."
"I want to help build something here"
"It's time for me to find out what Judaism means to me"
"It's time for me to learn more."
Some of the folks who tiptoed in were facing personal barriers to come and explore. Perhaps they had felt left out in the past or too uneducated. Perhaps they had (or have!) deep doubts about God. But something compelled them forward. And many of those who tiptoed in are now learning, playing and creating with TIG. Some of them/you are leading programs. For this I am so grateful. The newcomers are of all ages and diverse identities. Welcome, welcome all.
I am proud to say at this calendar turn of Tu B'shevat, the Birthday of Trees, we are adding a new layer of growth to our Temple Israel tree, a new link in the chain from past to future. Thank you for bringing your gifts and concerns to TIG.