From Our Hearts - Rabbi and Ruby: “Todah Rabbah -Thank you”
While I Ruby and I tried to greet everyone at the Gala on March 1st, it was simply impossible to thank everyone individually for being there that Shabbat and evening. I have begun writing to those who took leadership in executing all the significant components of the celebration, but I fear that Passover will arrive before I have completed my mission. Yet to all who attended, to all who took ads and wrote beautiful messages in the Tribute Journal, to all who wrote notes especially if they couldn’t be there, and to those who have spoken with us since and expressed their regret being unable to attend, Ruby and I have the simplest yet most heartfelt words to say – todah rabbah – thank you.
As we walked around the social hall and looked out from the bemah of the Sanctuary, my mind recalled shared episodes in life with almost everyone present. It has been a very rich and rewarding journey for us, knowing that in some small way we were permitted to enter your lives and assist in either times of joy or times of sorrow, with yourselves and with your children. I thank you for the privilege. With some of the children I stood on the bemah with them for their b’nai mitzvah and later stood with them under the chuppah for their marriage. While Menachem was in college when we moved here, he came to consider Richmond and Temple Beth-El his home, which was especially true for Yonina who spent her high school years at Governor’s School and particularly for Tzeira who grew up here and graduated from VCU. Their lives intertwined with their friends’ lives and so entered ours as well. Ruby made sure to say, repeating it twice, that we are staying here in Richmond for the immediate future and Temple Beth-El is our synagogue. We are blessed with many, many dear friends. Upon the completion of this year I will receive the title of Rabbi Emeritus and wear it most proudly for the rest of my life.
We particularly thank you for the gift which is the representation of the window of the Burning Bush that is over the Sanctuary door towards Roseneath Road and of the two windows that are in the balcony facing Grove Avenue. Ruby found a most beautiful location in our home where it catches the sunlight and brilliantly shines its color throughout the living room, almost replicating the Sanctuary. And we thank you for the Tribute Journal with so many beautiful words and pictures. I have leafed through it quickly as my attention returned to my congregational duties. It will provide me many hours of joy in the future. We thank you for these gifts that will accompany us through life.
I also use this opportunity to thank our children for taking my breath away when Menachem announced and presented us with the volume they published of my sermons which they annotated. This, too, I have read only a little, yet it has reached into the depth of my soul to see how the labor of love of my life has so profoundly impacted and shaped them. Some of these pieces were written before they could be shared on the listserv and website. Through the link in the bulletin and Good Shabbos I hope that you will enjoy them and the messages that I have been propounding will continue to make an impact on lives. Our children have indicated to me that I need to get working on selecting sermons for volume 2!
As I included in my remarks, the Gala weekend fulfilled many functions, certainly towards Ruby and me. As it was a celebration of my Rabbinate, it also served as a moment of closure of my tenure and as a moment of opening for my successor, Rabbi Michael Knoph. It is our wish that you show him and Adira and their family the warmth and love that you have shown to us. Ruby and I look forward to personally welcoming them to Richmond and Temple Beth-El.
There is no way to sum up all our feelings of love and gratitude towards you and to the members of the synagogues that I have served during the forty years of my career. I have saved so many notes and letters, every bulletin from every synagogue and various mementos that adorned my office now will find a place at home.
From our hearts Ruby and I simply and with most heartfelt feelings say: “we love you, thank you, todah rabbah.”