In this week’s Torah portion Eikev, we are given some good advice on how to handle large changes in our lives. In this portion, God reminds us that “the land we are about to cross into isn’t like Egypt from which you have come. There the grain you have sowed had to be watered by your own labors, like a vegetable garden; but the land you are about to cross into and possess, a land of hills and valleys, soaks up its water from the rains of heaven.” (Deut. 11:10-11).
When having a large transition, it is easy to compare what “land” you came from to the new “land” you are in. It is very human for us to say what is different and to compare one person to another or one experience to another. Judgment may creep in as well making it difficult to take the new place we are in as fresh. The advice that we may receive from this portion is that blessings of change may come as rains of heaven. Rains of heaven are gratifying and nourishing, but they also require faith and being okay with the unexpected.
Over the last few months, we as a community have had many wonderful transitions of new staff. We’ve welcomed our new senior rabbi, Ben David, our new youth engagement director, Lee Slobotkin, our new assistant director of Preschool, Sarah Donsky, and some new teachers in the preschool and in JQuest/Quest Noar.
Staff changes are happening everywhere in our building as well. Rabbi Sherman announced his retirement for the end of this year. Our Rabbi Emeritus, Lance J. Sussman was recently named Scholar in Residence of the Holocaust Museum; and the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center has a new Director of Programming and Collections- Katie Lowe, and new Education Director, Leah Dukes.
Yesterday a team of KI staff met with Katie Lowe and Leah Dukes to review the history of our KI involvement, support and partnership, and we also took time to talk about our dreams of how we can continue to deepen our connection. “The rains of heaven” in light of transition are:
- A new 6th grade curriculum that allows our 6th grade to learn more from survivors by obtaining an artifact from the museum to study.
- A new 5th and 6th grade choir, called “Hazak” led by Alyssa Davidson that will sing at our annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day Shabbat.
- Connections with Rabbi David who values connecting 2nd and 3rd generation survivors through conversation and community programs.
As we move forward into our new landscape, we are blessed with the rains of heaven. I pray we continue to be open to the nourishment of new possibilities, ideas and partnerships.