Every year when I am invited to speak at our Multi Faith Thanksgiving Community Service, I search for a new reading or prayer related to gratitude and appreciation. Over the years, I have found many including some that go back to Biblical times. If I were to ask you to recall a prayer of gratitude or thanksgiving from our tradition, I am sure that many of us who think of the Shechiyanu - "Praise are You, O Lord our God, who has given us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this day." I am sure many of us can recall times we said this prayer, as we light candles or recite Kiddush to begin our annual holidays as well as special life cycle moments such as standing with our children on the bimah as they became a Bat or Bar Mitzvah.
You may remember me sharing a personal moment a few years ago when I wanted to recite a more personal prayer for gratitude, when I was grateful for my personal health and recovery. I waited until I returned to the synagogue to bench Gomel, because that prayer needs a response from the congregation. I chose instead to say, "Praise are You, O God, who creates good things and makes the world a bit better each day." Whatever the moment is, our tradition has many ways we can express our gratitude and appreciation and I encourage us all to look for moments, both personal moments and communal moments, to express that gratitude through the lens of Jewish tradition.
This theme of gratitude and appreciation is on my mind this week because this week is Shabbat of Appreciation at The Jewish Center. In addition to a wonderful Shabbat service on both Friday night and Shabbat morning, and a great Bat Mitzvah, we have many other things to be grateful for this Shabbat. This Shabbat morning, we will acknowledge and thank the lay leaders of our Congregation - both those going out of office and those beginning their new term. We have so much to be thankful for as a congregation and our lay leaders deserve our gratitude. They have devoted so much time and talent to keep our synagogue strong. We have outstanding programs, a fabulous Religious School, inspiring Shabbat services and so many other things that make us proud. Our successes these past two years are due in many ways to the efforts of our outgoing President, Linda Meisel, the members of the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors. Tomorrow morning will be a time for us to acknowledge them and thank them for their service to The Jewish Center.
During our service, we will also take some time to welcome our new President, Randy Brett, into office along with the new members of the Executive Committee and the new members of the Board of Directors. I have already started working with Randy and the others and I know that they will bring new ideas and new energy to raise our congregation to new heights. The partnership between the lay leaders and the professionals of TJC is quite strong and we are all excited about the new opportunities that lay before us. I hope you will join us tomorrow to express our gratitude and confidence in these new lay leaders as they begin their term serving our congregation.
We also have two important people in our congregation to honor during the service tomorrow. Alison Politziner has been chosen as our Congregant of the Year for all that she does for us, including many things behind the scenes. We will also present the Richard Fishbane Leadership Award to Lori Feldstein for all that she does in the greater Jewish community both locally and internationally.
We have so much to be thankful as a congregation and Shabbat of Appreciation is just one way we can express our gratitude. Let's all set aside some time this Shabbat to consider other parts of our lives or other people in our lives who deserve our appreciation. If you need a Jewish source to help you express this gratitude, I suggest Psalm 100 - one of the oldest expressions of gratitude in Jewish tradition. Here are some highlights:
Mizmor L'Todah - A Psalm of Gratitude
Acclaim Adonai, all people on earth, Worship Adonai in gladness come before God with joyous song
Enter God's gates with gratitude, Adonai's courts with adoration.
Extol Adonai and praise God's name, for Adonai is good - God's love is eternal, God's faithfulness endures for all generations.
Thank you for being a part of the TJC Family - Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Adam Feldman