President’s January 2022 Column

The Hall of Time

To acknowledge the past. To reconcile one’s own past. Such ideas may seep into your thoughts as this season rolls into a new (calendar) year.

It can all be confusing to us, this time of year. Is it a new year for us, a different Rosh Hashanah and then do we have two years to track all events?

To me, the interior world is renewed on our Rosh Hashanah, while the exterior world, such as dates on checks, have this Gregorian count. Strange that we Jews have, it seems, two sets of books we keep separate, but a part of the world at large. Our bible, our holidays, and even our calendar.

For the past decade I have made the effort to slowly preserve a bit of our congregation’s past by restoring the old photos that line our Temple’s walls. Most are confirmation classes of students who are long gone. Who were they all? For me, I can walk down memory lane for the sixty plus years I’ve been a member. Many of their young faces can take me back to a world gone by. But who are they for you if they are but strangers, and why care?

If old photos are lost to the degradation of ultraviolet light, what is lost? When a face loses its edge, it becomes a ghost over time. Does it matter to us in the present? Surely their loved ones have all their photos at home preserved in an album or uploaded to the cloud. Is being a member at one time, make one a member for all time? I ask such questions to have each think what that means to you.

When a photo includes a good friend, a father, your son, maybe even yourself, it can make perfect sense to not want the past erased. Maybe there is a bit of that in my effort. A self-preservation of sorts. I thank Steve Eckert for doing such a great job capturing the everyday events with so many photos and videos over the years.

As this new year is unfolding, let us remember who came before us. How, with each year, a face passes, and new ones appear. Each gives of themselves to help preserve this community and be a part of the walls that uphold us. For our part, we will remember and appreciate all those selfless contributions as, we ourselves, will one day be a memory.

Robert Becker