This is a moment of transitions for the IJC community. We are saying goodbye to some IJC members who are moving on after their time with us. We wish them well on the next steps of their journeys.
On a personal level, my service as rabbi of the IJC has also come to an end after three years with the IJC. I have learned much from so many of you. It has been a pleasure to share in the community’s joys and an honor to be of support through times of pain and sorrow.
Together, we have worked on programs, parties, services and so much more that has enriched everyone who participated in them. We are all indebted to the many wonderful volunteers who do so much for the community in different ways. Many of you were there for me during the challenging times I have gone through and you have my enduring thanks. It is with great sadness that I look back on the last year and the painful, divisive process that led to my departure. I truly wish another road had been taken, regardless of the final outcome.
The book of the Torah that we are now reading is also about transitions. The book of Bamidbar, Numbers, is filled with stories of the Jews wandering in the wilderness as the generation that left Egyptian slavery passes away. A new generation, one raised in freedom, comes to maturity and prepares to enter the Promised Land. Moses begins to share leadership, devolving it to Elders, judges and raising Joshua, as well as Aaron’s sons to lead the next generation. Bamidbaris filled with challenges to Moses and ultimately to God’s leadership of the people. I think the underlying question is - what kind of leadership do the people need as they move into the next phase of their journey and evolution as a nation?
The stories in Bamidbarare compelling because this is a universal and timeless question. In our political sphere, at work, in our communities and our personal lives we are continually faced with the same question. What kind of leadership will bring us to where we want to go? The Torah presents us with radicals, holy men, prophets, soldiers, a mob, the misguided, the self-interested and some just plain bad people. There are no perfect characters. In that thicket of human beings, in the portrayals of what real people can be like, God and the Children of Israel struggle to find a leader they believe in, someone that they are willing to follow and who is willing to lead.
As the IJC faces the future, I hope that its members and leaders are able to create a positive partnership that is empowering and generative. And IJC is a place that enables its members to find what they are looking for in Judaism, that it is a source of enrichment and growth.
I wish the IJC community every success as it sets out on the next phase of its journey.
Rabbi Ira Goldberg