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		                                    Thinking Torah Blog		                                </span>

07/28/2022 05:00:00 PM


Rabbi Josh Whinston

This week marks the end of the Book of Numbers and a significant shift in the Torah narrative. The Israelites have arrived at the doorstep of the Promised Land and Moses spends the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, Masei, mentioning all the places the Israelites have encamped over the last 40 years. He is in a reflective mood, as he knows that his time with the people is also coming to end. When I was getting my MA in Jewish Education, I always remember Dr. Michael Zeldin saying to us, “The lesson or program is not really finished until you’ve spent time reflecting on what happened.” So often we go from moment to moment, project to project without reflecting on where we’ve been, and when we do this, we lose a piece of the magic that has occurred, and we also steal bits of learning from the future. 

As our community found out this morning, Melissa Sigmond will be leaving us in October. I am sure many people are thinking to themselves, “Besides Rabbi Josh, that’s the entire senior staff leaving in the course of two years.” My colleagues are all moving on for various reasons, but I believe that the pandemic has a lot to do with their decisions. As innovative and creative as these years have been for us, they have also been quite difficult. Speaking for my clergy colleagues, none of us ever imagined engaging with community the ways we continue to do today. Cantor Hayut is ready to retire, Rabbi Alter is ready for another challenge after this first job out of seminary, and Melissa and her family are ready to return home to New York City. These are all good reasons for change and we must celebrate them. They probably also leave many of us feeling anxious about the future. I understand that anxiety and certainly feel some of it, but more than anything else, I am excited about the future. We are a strong community. We know this from our growth in the last few years, from feedback we receive from our members, and from our reputation within the Washtenaw County Jewish community. We will come out of these years strengthened and invigorated as we shape the Judaism of 21st century America together.

But, before we get there, I hope that we can find time to reflect as a community about where we have been. Where have we encamped over the last 8 years? When have we succeeded and when could we have done better? Our past is present for us to construct our narrative and offer us strength for the future. I hope we can make the space and find the time to reflect together as we enter this new part of our journey.

Fri, April 19 2024 11 Nisan 5784