Beginnings and Ends
There are moments where you sit back, put your hands in back of your head after a long journey, looking back on your accomplishments, and even your failures. In my opinion, no matter what journey I have been on, whether it was college, my years in Israel, or the various positions that I have served as a Jewish educator and spiritual leader, I have always ended my journey with a sigh of accomplishment and pride. In fact, I have a ritual every time I finish a journey at a place. At Ramah Darom, I would wait until the whole camp was empty, walk to the dam that overlooks the lake and camp, and sit there alone, staring at the serene camp and remembering what was; and then I would dream about what would be.
Sometimes I share this moment with others, like after Yom Kippur services at the Fitzgerald Hebrew Congregation, where I sat in the empty sanctuary with Phil Perlis, Pension Kaminsky, and Jerry Heller, three men who keep this small congregation of Jews together and alive and who taught me what it means to be a Rabbi. As we sat there together, we talked about the year past and the great history of the congregation. Just a couple of weeks ago, one of my mentors and friends Rabbi Yoni Kaiserblueth and I stood on UF Hillel’s balcony overlooking the campus during my last visit as the rabbinic intern. Staring out at a bustling University Drive in Gainesville, we talked about the students who we impacted and who impacted us. And both of us looked to the future.
It is so important for us to know where we have been in order to appreciate where we are going.
So where are WE going? As many of you know, Alissa and I are South Florida bound. But we have another announcement: I have accepted an offer from a congregation in Boca Raton called Shaarei Kodesh where I will serve as the Rabbi of the congregation. Alissa and I had the pleasure of visiting the congregation where I preached, and taught, and met so many interesting people. The congregation is truly an amazing place with much talent and desire to make a difference in the world. Of course, we are looking to grow so if you know anyone who is looking for a welcoming and vibrant community in West Boca, please give me their information, or give them my information, or tell them to visit our website, www.shaareikodesh.org.
We feel blessed to have this opportunity especially in South Florida, a place that both Alissa and I love very much and we feel that it is an area with great potential for Jewish growth and development.
These past few weeks at JTS have been simply amazing. I have visited my favorite spots at JTS, places where I created life long memories with dear friends, places where I was challenged and challenged others with our rich tradition. I thought about the good times at JTS, the amazing amount of Torah that I have learned, and the difficult times as well.
Thank you to my family, my mentors, my friends and colleagues, my wife Alissa, and of course, to God who has brought me to this point.
We are so excited for the opportunities that await us. T.S. Elliott once said, “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
We come to the end of our time in New York, but it is the beginning of a whole new adventure. We will always cherish these years and those who we shared our lives with.
Please keep in touch and we hope to speak to you soon.
Rabbi David Baum