Rabbi Wood, Rabbi Dunn(Segal), Rabbi Ross
Today is a very special day. Today is the Rabbinic Ordination of the class of 5770 at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, OH. While I am proud of ALL of the Ordinees (my friends, colleagues) of the class of 5770, I am especially proud of the two ladies that shared so much of the journey with me day in and day out - my old roommates Emily and Amy.
Rabbinical School (as I'm sure Cantorial School will be) is a very intense period of time. You are learning so much - both in and out of the classroom - on what it means to ready yourself for the sacred task of leading the Jewish people. There are very high highs and very low lows. There are moments of solidarity with the community, joys and triumphs. There are also moments of personal grief and hardship. But nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to that moment of Ordination. Standing in front of the open ark, the President's hands upon you blessing you in the ways of our ancient tradition. The journey that has been and the journey that will be all stand still in time, as that moment is sanctified and made holy.
This week, in our parasha, we learn about Moses sending spies to the land of Israel to scout out this Promised Land. What does it contain? Is it dry and arid or is the soil good and rich? What are the people like? What will it be like to enter in to it? The spies return and talk of the great abundance of the land - it is a land flowing with milk and honey.
10 of the 12 spies return and say that they are fearful - there are people there who are giants, and there is no way the Israelites can enter in to the Promised Land without being destroyed. But Caleb and Joshua resist these fears and urge others to resist them as well.
The first time I met Amy was during our Year in Israel, on the beach in Tel Aviv. Throughout that year we traveled around Israel together and became close friends, deciding to live together in Cincinnati upon our return to the states. When Amy decided to take time off from school, I decided to live with another student - Emily. Emily's connection to Israel and love of the Israeli people is so profound and so inspiring. She has taught me a great deal about having a deep and genuine love for the land, the culture, and the people.
This week's parasha speaks to us on so many different levels. There are important lessons to be learned and it contains ideas and hopes that I would like to impress upon this Ordination class. The future is uncertain, and while we'd like to know what lies ahead in our own destiny, we must sometimes proceed fearlessly, with faith in God and faith in ourselves. Resist the temptation to give in to your fears. Know that there may be bumps and challenges ahead, but that there is great reward and that life will be full of a great abundance of gifts and treasures.
To Amy and Emily and the entire Ordination Class of 5770 - May you be a blessing to the Jewish people. May you proceed fearlessly in your rabbinate, full of hope and wonder and excitement for what lies ahead both personally and communally. May this day be a moment in time when you celebrate your accomplishments and marvel in what great abundances lie ahead for you. May you go from strength to strength and always remember your own gifts, talents, and blessings that you bring to K'lal Yisrael. MAZEL TOV RABBIS!!!!!