Rabbi’s Review – July-August 2019

Sheheheyanu Moment

Rabbi Cassi Kail


I am writing this article amidst a sea of boxes, as my family prepares to move from New York to Southern California. My  eight-year-old, Noam, is most excited to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. My six-year-old, Talia, is excited to live near the Pacific Ocean. I am sure they will enjoy both perks of living in Los Angeles, but they will soon come to understand that the reason we are moving is far better than anything they could have imagined; to join a caring, enduring, and vibrant community at Temple Beth El.

The rabbis created a prayer for moments such as these called the Sheheheyanu. We recite this prayer during Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Passover, and Shavuot. We recite it when we sit in the sukkah, enjoy a taste of matzah, or light the Hanukkah candles. We say it at important occasions in our lives, such as when a child is born or on a wedding day. We offer the blessing when we move to a new home, or when we celebrate a special event.

Blessed are You Eternal our God Sovereign of the Universe, for giving us life, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this season.

As my tenure here begins, I find the Sheheheyanu flowing freely from my lips. I am humbled and delighted to follow in the footsteps of Rabbis David Lieb and Charles Briskin, who left strong legacies of scholarship, social justice, and compassionate leadership.

I am grateful to Rabbi Douglas Kohn for ushering TBE through a year of transition. Although I will not have the privilege of working with him, I am deeply appreciative of his diligence in creating a smooth, and forward-thinking transition plan. Thanks to the hard work of Rabbi Kohn, the professional staff, and lay leaders, the temple is set up for success as we begin this new season together.

In May, my husband Josh and I were delighted to speak with so many community members. There was great pride and passion for TBE in the stories told to me by children and adults alike. I was in awe at the number of multi-generational families, and excited by the newer families who joined when they realized what a gem they had found. During my interviews here, I felt at home. I was already impressed with the rich membership, devoted volunteers, and talented professional staff. As I met many members, my feelings of excitement multiplied.

My first priority in the coming months is to sit down with as many of you as possible. I want to hear your stories, your passions, and your hopes for Temple Beth El. Please do not hesitate to call the temple to set up a time to meet. I will begin reaching out to community members as well, eager to get to know you.

Today I become the rabbi of Temple Beth El. May this Sheheheyanu moment be the first of many we will share together.