Congregation Sha'aray Israel

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A Conservative Jewish Congregation serving the spiritual needs of the Middle Georgia Jewish community since 1904

From the Rabbi

January 2015
Tevet - Shevat 5775

Personal and Professional...

Back around 1990, I was a rabbinic intern at the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens - big shul, sizable staff, well over a thousand members. In terms of places I could envision myself working - pretty far off my radar screen. My mentor, the senior rabbi, was a man-on-the-go; involved in a wide array of New York Jewish leadership circles, as well as consumed with layers of shul matters, large and small.

I vividly remember him telling me that, one day, when I became a parent, I would actually understand who my congregants were; what their real lives were like. At that time, I was put off by those words; they sounded condescending - and I, well, I think I knew everything at that time. After all, I was a senior in rabbinical school at JTS (!). It took a few years for me to figure out just how little a newly minted rabbi knows about the real world.

Fast forward to Macon, 1993 - Sherah Israel at that time, pre-kids. How could I possibly understand kids running around in shul, crawl-ing under occupied chairs, parents too busy juggling bits of life to be fully engaged in shul stuff? It’s 2015, the little Macon kids have grown up, some are parents. Our daughter is about to celebrate her becoming a bat mitzvah, and our son leaves for college in a few months. (I still have trouble saying or writing those words without getting a bit choked up; I know, a bit pathetic, please bear with me!) Gerry Skolnik’s words ring truer than I could ever imagine. Two phrases come to mind:

1. "These are the names" The book of Exodus opens with a list of Jacob’s clan coming down to Egypt. These days I find myself awash in a list of names - people who have changed my life; people who became dear friends, people who have passed away, people who made the ride so interesting, and - way too few synagogue honors with way too many names (the absolute bane of all pre- bnei mitzvah parents.

2. "I get by with a little help from my friends" I can’t overstate this truth. There are so many wonderful people in this kehilla who mean so much to us; people who have been there with us and for us during this past 20 (!) years. This bat mitzvah weekend is simply one more reminder of how blessed all the Macon Rubinstein’s are to be part of this community, to be back home again.

I know - sentimental, but it has to be said. Thank you. For everything. 


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