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Answering “The Call”

One afternoon during the intermediate days of Pesach, Rabbi Paskind texted to ask me whether we could find time to chat. “Of course,” I replied, and as my afternoon work meetings continued apace, I wondered what was up. I knew we had Torah readings covered for the holiday, and beyond, since I’ve been responsible for lining up readers for Shabbat and holidays for the past several years. The rabbi and I share a love for leyning and related cantillation trivia, but it didn’t seem likely that she’d be calling me to talk about an unusual trope. I concluded she probably needed to discuss a minor detail related to her upcoming (and somewhat delayed) absence that would follow her child’s birth—already nearly a week overdue.

Later that afternoon we finally spoke, and you’ll probably guess that the topic had nothing to do with Torah readings or maternity leave coverage. Rabbi Paskind told me she was calling on behalf of the Nominating Committee, formally asking whether I’d accept their nomination to be the next President of the synagogue. I’ve arrived at a point in life where I’m not often surprised, but I’ll admit that the rabbi’s question left me momentarily without words—something that those of you who know me merits a special mention.  When I regained the power of speech, I echoed what I refer to as a Honeymooners response: when Ralph, memorably played by Jackie Gleason, is inevitably confronted by his wife Alice with proof that his latest scheme had not exactly worked as planned, he would be left only able to mumble, “humuna, humuna, humuna.”

As I gradually became more coherent, I responded with a few of my own questions—the most important of which was whether the Rabbi had, in fact, called the right David. It is, after all, not an uncommon name. Rabbi Paskind assured me that she hadn’t misdialed. I told the Rabbi I’d need some time to think it over, to discuss it with Jayne, and to hear the perspectives of others on the nominating committee. She told me to take all the time I needed—and then we both laughed, since it was clear that time was short.

I had several conversations over the next few days, soliciting the views of friends and family. Since both my father and my brother have served in the same role, their perspectives were particularly valuable. My kids were both very excited and Jayne has been very supportive, gradually warming up to the idea of becoming First Lady.

As Pesach wound down and the deadline for my decision—like the return of hametz—loomed, a few things came into focus. I feel greatly honored to be asked to take on this important leadership role in our community. Of course I had been telling that to everyone, but when I considered the deep multi-generational ties to CBE of my three immediate predecessors—Sharon, Keith, and Steve—I felt all the more privileged to have been asked—after all I’m a relative newcomer to Beth El, only joining about 10 years ago. I am lucky to have found in Norwalk the warm embrace of a wonderful congregation; where both my children became bar and bat mitzvah; where I’m able to indulge my love of Torah reading each week; and where I’ve been privileged to lead Rosh Hashanah services for the entire community. And so as I considered assuming this very different type of leadership—decidedly non-liturgical, to be sure—I realized (as Jayne so perceptibly told me) that this is always something towards which I’ve been drawn. I’m thankful for the strong leadership that Sharon, the members of the Executive Committee, and the Board has provided over the past three years; and I’m grateful for the trust you’ve placed in me to continue that important work over the next two years. B’Hatzlacha to us all!



Tue, August 21 2018 10 Elul 5778