Rabbi’s Review – June – July 2018

My Last Article

Rabbi Charles K. Briskin


Thirteen years ago, in my first column, I shared a Hasidic story in which a wise rabbi  tells  a  young  rabbi  the  meaning of the young rabbi’s dream, “Your dream of three hundred people calling you rabbi will mean little until those three hundred people share their dream with me in which they call you their rabbi.”

Thirteen years ago, I became the rabbi of Temple Beth El. However, it took time before you would truly call me your rabbi. For the past thirteen years you have invited me to share some of the most sacred and intimate moments of your lives. You have been my teachers as much as I have been yours, as I have striven to propel Temple Beth El upward, working in sacred partnership with our talented team of professionals and lay leaders. We sustained core programs, tried dozens more, some of which endure to this day. We endeavor to live by the values of our vision statement where we want all who enter our doors to feel our warmth. I look back with contentment and pride of our work over these years which I believe has left a strong imprint in the unfolding story of Temple Beth El.

Recently I flipped through old copies of Kol Beit El. Akin to looking at old photos stored away in a box, each bulletin generated fond memories of all we’ve built together (and guilt for every editor who has waited well beyond the due date for my articles). When I suffer moments of doubt or uncertainty about what my legacy at TBE will be, I can return to these bulletins, or read your notes that I keep, to remind me of the ways that slowly, but surely, we built up TBE and you came to call me your rabbi.

Rabbi Chanina said: “Much have I learned from my rabbis, even more have I learned from my colleagues, but from my students I have learned more than from anyone else.” (Ta’anit 7a) I thank you, my students, who have also been my teachers for gifts too numerous to count. I may no longer be the rabbi of Temple Beth El, however, I hope that the lesson of the wise rabbi will endure if, when you reflect on all of your years with Temple Beth El, you will remind others of those meaningful encounters with your rabbi.

Karen, Ezra and Avi join me in offering our profound thanks and appreciation for the gifts too numerous to count that you have bestowed upon us over these years. We will always carry TBE with us.