Sunday, September 16, 2012


Let me begin by wishing each and every one of you and your families a shana tovah u'metuka -- a wonderful, meaningful and sweet New Year.

It is that time in the annual Jewish life cycle for reexamination, for introspection, for change. We are offered this opportunity by our faith, by our relationship with God and with our People and with our interrelated communities. Annually I seriously look at myself, my relations with those closest to me, with those that I love, with the communities and People who I love as well. I believe in teshuva, in repentance, but I also believe in change, in truth, in never giving up principle for expediency...and I believe in the ability to change -- as I think all of us do.

I have been reading the Bialik, Israel and Nobel Prize winning S.Y. Agnon's seminal work, Days of Awe, in preparation for our High Holy Days. Agnon's words and insights into these Days, and, more critically, into the relationship between men, women and God inspire me to once again look into myself, into how I can try to effect changes in myself and in those things I care most about -- the real "changes I can believe in."

It must be terribly painful to those around us whose idea of "change" is to pander, to merely talk or write about changes and then to do nothing to effect them. I can think of nothing more sad or more worthless -- those who care only about the tube but not at all about the toothpaste; those who confuse personal agendas with "change;" those who believe that they can repaint failures in the bright patina of successes by repetition. They sadden me and I will pray for them in the days ahead. I will pray that they will come to understand that there can be no change until they understand the damage they have done in their belief that only they know "the way," "the truth." It is so clear that as these Yamim Noraim are now upon us, they know not or refuse to acknowledge the damage they wreak.

I read a New Year's message late last week -- Embracing Change: A Rosh Hashanah Message -- that confirmed that some who talk about "change" haven't the courage to engage in the kind of introspection that might lead to real change. Just as one who is addicted must acknowledge the addiction before change can take place, so must those who have led in the waste of hundreds of millions of our most precious dollars acknowledge their failings before change can truly be "embraced." When I read time and again that the Global Planning Table and the sadly diminished Young Leadership Cabinet and TribeFest are examples of success -- of "embracing change in core areas...offering huge promise" -- I despair. Instead of talking and writing of the need to "recreate ourselves," isn't it time to demand deeds instead of words, a true "re-creation." And, isn't it time to demand of current and new leadership, lay and professional, nationally and locally, that the changes taking place in our communities be reflected in our national institution, to ask "what is our national organization doing to 'renew and nurture our communities' beyond giving lip service?" 

I, with you, will engage in serious introspection during these High Holy Days as is demanded of us; now, we must demand of those in whom we have entrusted our communities to do the same.

Again, a shana tova u'metukah to each and every one of you and your families -- a wonderful, meaningful and sweet New Year.



Anonymous said...

Thanks, Richard. There is no redemption for those who believe they are always right -- or that they have such total control of otherwise smart people that whatever they do "works" -- even though everyone(everyone but them)knows it.

Anonymous said...

Right now if Manning told me it's raining I would go outside to check. They can't do teshuva because they don't know right from wrong; how could they when everything they do is right?

Anonymous said...

Things are so bad, my federation is in serious debate over whether we should pay Dues to this thing any longer