For those of you who were unable to attend our Annual Meeting last week, I wanted to share with you some of my concluding remarks:
On Tradition and Change
Lukas Foss, the composer and former conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic who passed away last week, once said, when asked about his avant-garde approach to music, that "the best thing is to have one big foot in the past and one in the future."
This idea -- of embracing both tradition and change -- expresses my fundamental approach to Jewish thinking and Jewish life. And, it was The New Shul's spirit of "showing a new way that is ancient," that first brought me here, over 18 months ago, during my final year of studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary.
And what I've found is a shul that is uniquely suited to be a major presence in helping to reconcile the traditional aspects of our Jewish teaching with the very real nature of our own lives in downtown New York in this new world of ours. A place that has been, and will always be, welcoming to all.
I know that many of us are excited to follow Niles' career, waiting to see how his next book will stir and challenge us, and all of the milestones that are yet to come in his impact on American Jewry; and yet, at the same moment, we acknowledge the sadness that we feel as he leaves this community where he has been for the past ten years its founding Rabbi and spiritual leader.Creative adjustment to Jewish Life
But, we are all thankful for the Torah that he has given to each of us, and to this whole community.
Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, wrote that creative adjustment to Jewish life "seeks not only to preserve, but even to enhance, the spirit of the tradition."Click here to read the full remarks.
"It is that very sense of need for religion that impels us to reinterpret the traditional beliefs... and to revise and develop the traditional usages in keeping with spiritual needs which we can genuinely experience."
This to me is the project of both The New Shul and my own life as a Rabbi.
As always, I welcome feedback in the comment section, via email, or in person.