It is with much excitement as I write to you in this refreshed and updated website for Ohav Sholom. One of the goals I had set out soon after I arrived was to establish Ohav's first Marketing Committee and bring Ohav Sholom into the 21st century with regard to techonolgy and communicating with our members. I am thrilled to say that we are accomplishing this goal.
I'm reminded of an excerpt from the Talmud (Gittin 57A) that shares with us a beautiful tradition from Ancient Israel:
"It was the custom when a boy was born, to plant a cedar tree and when a girl was born to plant a cypress, and when they married, the tree was cut down and a canopy made of the branches."
When a child is newly born, the most natural emotion is to rejoice and celebrate. But in ancient Israel, this new child did not just represent the emotion of simcha that one felt at that moment, but also a realization by his and her parents that this is, G-d willing, just the first of many celebrations. By planting those trees at their child's birth, they were also planning for and showing their faith in the many celebrations ahead. As we recite over every baby at their bris, "Just as this child has entered his Bris, so should he enter into Torah, marriage, and good deeds."
This same message is conveyed by what the Midrash describes as the special insight found found in the women of the generation of the Exodus. While the men hastily grabbed whatever treasures they could as they ran out of Egypt, the women made sure to pack their musical instruments. It was the women, with their Binah Yeteirah, their special insight, that realized that the miracles at the Exodus was just the beginning of the salvation, and that they would need to be appropriately prepared when even greater miracles would come their way, and an even greater celebration and parade would be in order.
In the six months plus year since we re-crossed the border, Chevi and I have been able to plant new seeds with the special members of our congregation and community. We have cultivated new relationships through the parlor meetings as well as used technology to increase and improve communication and marketing. Everyone who has attended our Torah classes has witnessed the widespread excitement for study and growth. We have seen new and recurring social programs, fundraising initiatives, long range strategic planning, and new additions to our youth program. We have shared together, and mourned together, celebrated the past, and now I hope, plan for the upcoming revelry in the future.
Nearly fifty years ago, the founding members of our synagogue and a young charismatic Rabbi, planted seeds with a mission of sincere commitment to the values of our tradition, and poured a foundation of family and community to build a Kehillah that will be reaped and harvested with both senior and recent members side by side.
As our congregation enters a new phase, I hope that you join me in feeling energized from everything we have celebrated and accomplished since we've arrived. Yet we need to have the faith that through our efforts and dedication, through the total contributions of every member of our congregational family, we will again have many reasons to celebrate in the future. It is now up to us to personally commit ourselves to our synagogue with the passion that will take us to the next stages of celebration. We need to show our children grandchildren and neighbors how to live and love the ideals that shape our lives and our synagogues future. We must continue to strive to bring the legacy of celebrations of Ohav Sholom's past, into the forefront of the present.
I believe that the next many months and years will bring even more reasons to celebrate for the future of our congregation. While we face some obvious challenges ahead of us, through a recommitment to our mission, creative outreach and inreach, and through the special people that are passionate about Ohav Sholom and define who we are as a congregation, this could be our finest hour. I look forward to sharing in the planting and the revelry with you.
Chevi, Shlomit, Shira Nacha, Anat Shoshana, and Isaac Roi join me in wishing you all the blessings in the world.
Looking forward to seeing you at shul!
Rabbi Ira Ebbin