This is one of my all-time favorite inspirational sayings. For those of you who don’t recognize it, these words from Pirke Avot, attributed to Rabbi Tarfon, may be translated as, "You are not required to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it." I have a beautiful calligraphy version of this statement hanging in my home office and positioned so that I can always see it from my desk as I’m working.
These words have taken on a particular poignancy as I reflect on my time as your President at TBT. Over the last two years, I have tried to be a responsible steward for our synagogue. I have worked to the best of my capacity to lead, inspire, goad (as necessary), nag (we are Jewish, after all), occasionally entertain, and always listen with openness, respect, and sincerity. I have made so many new friends; strengthened and enriched existing relationships; and occasionally, strained a few along the way as well.
I feel that we have accomplished much together, worshipped and learned and celebrated together; and yet there is still so much more to do. The work, indeed, is never done. The next group of synagogue leaders will pick up where this group has left off. It is a beautiful thing, to consider so many people allied in the service of one mission, the prosperity and vitality of our Jewish community, but it works only as long as YOU work. There is no "they" here; we ALL must do our part, step up in the service of TBT, if we are to thrive and grow. One does not require a long CV replete with experience in Jewish or other non-profit organizational life: the only job requirements are a desire to contribute and a willingness to partner with others. There are so many opportunities to serve here at TBT, at every level and at every degree of time commitment. Don’t be afraid. There is no better way to get to know our fellow congregants, make lasting friendships, learn more about Judaism, learn more about yourself.
I am immensely grateful to Rabbi Offner and Cantor Margolius, who lead by example, teach, and inspire us always; the wise counsel and deep commitment of the members of the Boards of Directors with whom I’ve been privileged to work; and especially Kim Romine and Bonnie Mahon, who never cease to amaze with their grace, kindness, positive attitude, and love for our House of Hope.
We should never take what we have here for granted. It is a special place filled with special people. Let us continue to build from strength to strength.