Some words of welcome and wisdom from TEMV Board President Robin Frisch at our Rosh Hashanah services this year.
Shana Tova and welcome to each and every one of you. At the start of this New Year, it is my pleasure and my honor to thank and give gratitude to Rabbi Sparr and the Board of Trustees for the dedication and hard work that goes on every single day of the year. A big thank you also goes out to those who chair committees and share their talents in so many other ways. Our dynamic temple would not exist without those who give freely of their time, their wisdom and their vision, to make happen all that we enjoy. I would also like to welcome Rabbi Wolfe for sharing her talents with us during this High Holy Day season.
This is a time of starting over. We reflect upon the past year as we look forward to what this brand new year may hold for us. We strive to learn from our history as we go forward into our future, 5779, with all the promise it holds.
I am honored to stand here before you as president of Temple Emanuel. Two years ago, my husband Gary, my son, Zach, and myself, were strangers in a strange new land. We moved to Lowell after living in the Chicago area for our entire lives. We did not know a soul, except for people that my husband would be working with in his new job. On a wintry Friday night Gary and I pulled into the parking lot of what we thought was a completely different temple, but, was actually the parking lot of Temple Emanuel of the Merrimack Valley! We came in and found ourselves participating in a soul-touching musical service, led by Rabbi Sparr. We knew, the songs, we knew the tunes, and we recognized immediately the feeling of, somehow, in the middle of New England, being home. During the oneg we were heartily welcomed and during conversations we figured out we were at the wrong, but very right temple! Somehow our Garmin had led us to TEMV, and we knew nothing would ever take us away. We were here to stay.
In TEMV, we have found forever friends, and a true beacon of light, an eternal light, of hope and spiritual fulfillment. And now it is time to help lead our cherished temple forward. As many of you know, Temple Emanuel has sold this building and we will be moving to a new location in Lowell. We are currently in lease negotiations and more details will be announced very soon!
The congregation is now saying goodbye to a building that has been our spiritual home for sixty years. So many memories have been made here as our community has come together in all the ways that make our lives so rich. We have learned, and we have prayed together. We have raised our voices in song and clasped our hands in dance. These walls have witnessed the cycle of our lives from birth to death as we have been there for each other in times of happiness and sorrow and all that has dwelled in between.
It is time for us to lead the way into a new chapter for Temple Emanuel by creating a new spiritual home that will continue to nurture the friendships and the traditions that we hold dear, while embracing our future. I have been reading the book The Spirituality of Welcoming – How to Transform Your Congregation into a Sacred Community by Dr. Ron Wolfson. He discusses six gateways to a spiritual community that I would like to share with you.
- Prayer that is engaging, uplifting and spiritually moving.
- Institutional deepening that is possible because of openness to change
- Study for all, adults, families, and children
- Good Deeds, the work of Social Justice, is a commitment of each and every member.
- Ambience of welcome that creates a culture of warmth and outreach
- Healing, a sense of completeness that offers comfort and support at times of illness and loss
Dr. Wolfson goes on to say, “An ambience of welcome is not just a place where everyone knew your name, but a place where everyone was treated as an “image of God”, living within a culture of honor. It would be a place that embraced the possibilities of change, a community unafraid to experiment, even to take risks. It would be a high place, a place to stand on a summit, always looking into the future, hoping to enter the Promised Land.”
As I read, I thought about how my family fell in love with Temple Emanuel after our first visit. It was because these six elements are already so ingrained within Temple Emanuel’s identity.
We are already starting with a strong, deep foundation as we go forward to our new home. And now it is our job to build that foundation even stronger, even deeper. Moving after 60 years is quite a challenge, but we are more than up to the task. We are committed to respect for every individual, working tirelessly for social justice, continuing to offer opportunities for growth and education to all, and we always have been, and always will be, here for each other. We will hold strong to these ideals, and build upon them, as we make our move. Rabbi Michael Twerski has said “What is freedom, if not the possibility of change?”
However, we cannot do this alone. We need each and every one of you to commit to helping Temple Emanuel march forward, into the promise of our future. For those of you who are worshipping with us for the first time, and for those of you who have been sharing the holidays with us for many years, we already consider you part of the family, and we ask that you consider deepening your commitments and become members of our vibrant, diverse congregation. Our membership form is online, and we are also glad to discuss any questions you may have.
We together, old and new members of TEMV, need to give our support with our time, our talents, and, yes, with our wallets, now more than ever. Right now, it is a challenge for any small congregation to remain sustainable. With our upcoming move we are dedicated to building a strong, financial base for our present and future generations – but we cannot do it without your help.
I have heard many times the adage, “Give until it hurts”. This saying has never resonated with me—I don’t think anyone should ever do anything “until it hurts”. Instead, I ask you, from my heart, on behalf of our temple and our future, please, give until it feels good. . . . Give until it feels right. Envelopes can be found in every prayer book. Thank you to each and every one of you, for making it possible for TEMV to go strongly and proudly, into 5779.
Please remember to keep your programs with you for the rest of the High Holy days schedule, which can also be found online. We hope you will now join us now for Kiddush in our lower level. Our next service will be our Family Service that begins at 2:00 p.m. This one-hour service is for families of all ages. We will then meet at the Esplanade at the UMass Lowell Boathouse for Tashlich.
L’Shanah Tovah Tik ah tevu. May you be inscribed for a good and sweet new year.