View from the President
Elul and a Time Humility
A message from Stuart Ratzan
President, Temple Beth Am
With the pandemic still in full swing, the next year will continue to present great challenges. I am confident that our clergy, professional staff and lay leadership will meet the challenges and, together, strategically plan for Temple Beth Am’s long-term success. I want to thank all of you in our community for your continuing support of the mission of Temple Beth Am. Like a family, we will always be stronger together and we will emerge from this pandemic healthier and wiser as individuals and as a community.
It is August, the dog days of summer. In a normal year, August is a time of transition. For kids, the end of summer gives way to the start of a new school year, a time to mark the passing of another year of growth and the anticipation of a new year of challenges. For adults, the time is often filled with vacation, a pause from the hustle and bustle of the workday world, a time to explore other cities, states or countries, or perhaps just a time to get out to the beach or on the water in Miami and enjoy some peace and tranquility.
However you look at it, this is not a normal year. While many of us may find time to slow down, even travel a bit, whatever we are doing and wherever we go, our experiences will be much different.
This year, perhaps more than any other before it, we are yearning for personal growth, and for a way to find meaning, joy and comfort during this confusing and uneasy time. And while it is a constant refrain these days that we live in “uncertain times,” the simple truth is that all times are uncertain. Of course the current degree of uncertainty can feel overwhelming. Still, we should be reminded that our lives, our futures, whatever is around the corner, are never truly certain.
So what can we do with this lesson? How can we survive in an uncertain world? What comfort can we take in life if nothing is ever certain?
These and many other questions are the kinds of things that we as a community should ask ourselves at this time of year. With the High Holy Days around the corner, we will soon enter the month of Elul. At Beth Am, our clergy will be leading us in programming, to include educational and spiritual opportunities to explore our Jewish and spiritual selves. The uncertainty of these times can be instructive for all times, and we can take this opportunity to be more reflective and introspective than ever, with the goal of learning and growing to be our best and most authentic selves.
The month of Elul is known as a month of repentance, a time when “The King is in the Fields.” It is a time of mercy and healing and forgiveness. It is a time to get closer to G-d, and to grow as people. In essence it is a time for humility, to cast away the confines of our material aspirations and to connect deeply with those we love. It is a time to enrich our relationships with each other, with Judaism, with Torah and with G-d. Elul is a month of preparation for the High Holy Days.
So, click here for the Elul offerings at Temple Beth Am. Try something new. It is said that our best growth happens when we step out of our comfort zones. If nothing else, the pandemic makes us uncomfortable. So, it is a perfect time to grow!
Uncertainty is more acute now than ever, but it never goes away. Let’s use the discomfort of uncertainty to grow. Let’s learn how to live with uncertainty. Let’s embrace it and find out how uncertainty can make us better people, how it forces humility upon us. With the humility of uncertainty, the humility that comes from lacking control, not knowing the future, we are forced to gather the courage to learn and grow, the courage to have faith in a divine power, and the courage to believe in the inevitability of a brighter tomorrow.