As we begin the month of June, the final month in our programming year, I am filled with a sense of gratitude for all we accomplished this year as a congregation. Rather than list them here, I encourage you to reflect on the great programs, the stimulating speakers and activities, the inspiring services and the classes here at TJC. We have a lot to be proud of and I want to express my appreciation to the lay leaders and members of the staff at TJC for all we accomplished together.
A key Jewish value is gratitude and we express it in many ways. Each of our services includes prayers of gratitude; some we say collectively and some we say individually. From the morning blessings (known as Birchot HaShachar) when we start our day expressing gratitude to God for a litany of personal gifts (the ability to open our eyes, to stand up straight, to provide us with all our needs) through the Amidah that always includes a prayer for Thanksgiving (Modim Anachnu Lach), we express our gratitude to God. Many of us are familiar with the children's song Modeh Ani that we teach to start each day - "I express my thanks to You, O God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has return my soul to me with grace and devotion."
It is noteworthy that whenever we recite the Modim paragraph, there are two versions in the siddur. The Rabbis teach that one is to be recited by the individual and the other is to be recited by the congregation whenever the Amidah is recited aloud. Perhaps we also have these two versions to encourage us to express our gratitude in different words as often as we can.
Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, writes extensively on the theme of gratitude in Jewish tradition. One of my favorite quotes of his is, "Part of the essence of gratitude is that it recognizes that we are not the sole authors of what is good in our lives ... Thankfulness has an inner connection with humility. It recognizes that what we are and what we have is due to others, and above all to God."
As your Rabbi, I am grateful for what we can accomplish together as a congregation and appreciate the support I receive as we jointly address our needs. I urge you to express gratitude to people in your lives who help and support us through our personal challenges and our daily lives. Tonight is TJC's Shabbat of Appreciation - an evening we dedicate to recognizing and thanking our lay leaders who volunteer their time to help us in countless ways. Please join us at our 8 PM service tonight when our President Linda Meisel and I will both have an opportunity to publicly thank everyone who helps make TJC strong and vibrant. If you cannot be here, I hope you will find another time to share your gratitude with these leaders, including those ending their terms and those who are just beginning.
As we prepare now for Shabbat, and think back on experiences for which we can feel grateful and look ahead to new opportunities in the future, let's remember the great words of Meister Eckart, the German theologian and philosopher who said, "If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough."
I hope to see you soon at TJC - and thank you for being part of our congregation. Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Adam Feldman