My addition to this month’s President’s Column is content of remarks I delivered at the Erev Rosh Hashanah Service. I do hope you found the services offered (either Traditional or Reform) were appreciated and valued as part of the mosaic of being Jewish here in our corner of the world. You can find your story here.
What is your story?
You may view this question as an invitation to present your elevator speech of your life story. That is your life’s story, how you got to here and now. But no, rather what story do you run in your head on any topic … about yourself?
What story do we tell ourselves about our past?
Do you find, like I do, that seemingly repeating loops appear as you look back through the decade’s past?
And to the youth … What are your goals, your plans …? What story do you tell yourself about what you want to do or become when independent in this big world?
These are, after all, two sides of the same question … what is your story?
As a Jewish people we are familiar with storytelling. The Torah is filled with stories. We are a people of the book. We are a people of laws and we are people that love to analyze stories and laws. Perhaps the greatest gift our people brought were not only the stories of the Torah, but also the gift to ponder them from all angles and not accept anything at face value, while also to allow for allegory.
So, what is your Jewish story? Maybe you view such a question as what story within the Torah resonates with you? What is the other Jewish stories we tell ourselves?
Consider this question, how do you feel about being a Jew? Why did you decide to collectively participate at services for this holiday? Is it simply because it is what you were brought up to do? Is there meaning beyond tradition?
You see, I think to ponder such questions has value in and of itself. I think tonight is a good time for rituals and to recite familiar prayers. And, I think tonight can serve us to listen within … to your story and possibly to craft a new wonderful ending.
What is your story? How did the year go for you and those you love? How did you handle adversity? How can we be better? What are your inner plans to improve yourself?
What relationship deserves your active repair? Who to say, “I’m sorry”… and mean it? How to say, “I love you”, and feel it more?
Today is a good day to create your future story. Your next chapter for yesterday.
And the stories you tell – they have power.
Can that still small voice inside each of us, guide us to that good story that is possible for us? That voice, as well as the choice – is yours!
And finally, what is your story towards this Jewish community? It is a thought that enters my mind – especially more these days in my role as temple president.
What are we here at Temple Judah capable of … size, as in Numbers verses impact, creativity – Genesis? And, what is your role? So many have given so much of their time and treasure in the past that has allowed us the comfort to have this active synagogue today. I am grateful to all who serve now on Temple Judah’s boards and committees, our teachers and those who served us in the past.
Thank you … to you, the members that pledge to keep this temple fiscally healthy.
What story do you tell yourself about this community and your future role?
The stories we choose to repeat – do have power. Choose your story well.
And as a community, you as a member, we as a Temple – I ask one last question, what is the best values and actions we can model when a member of our community is going through tough times? Do we judge and gossip – or engage and support?
As we enter this new year, I wish us all to tell good stories … nourishing stories with values and deeds that make these stories become real.
Your story has power – use it wisely.