A letter of gratitude from Rabbi Audrey Marcus Berkman

Dear TOS Community,

I am filled with gratitude for the many blessings of last Friday evening’s Installation, when we marked the official start of a new chapter in which I have the honor of serving as your spiritual leader. The service and reception exemplified the power of community, tradition, friendship, learning, and love. My deepest thanks to all of you who showed up, whether to celebrate with us in person, or through kind words and gestures of support and gratitude. The evening was especially poignant as it was also Solidarity Shabbat, in which the Jewish community both within and beyond TOS came together to honor the lives of those murdered the previous Shabbat at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. On Friday night, as well as Saturday morning’s service and Bat Mitzvah, I felt so proud of the way that our Jewish people continues to honor and sanctify life, celebrating and connecting to community and tradition even in the face of hatred and destruction. For more about this, please see the remarks I shared with the community during Friday night’s service.

The staff worked tirelessly to create this special milestone celebration, and there were a lot of efforts made “behind the scenes” that I’d like to acknowledge: The meal incorporated some new elements of sustainability, in line with one of our community’s core values of tikkun olam (repair of the world): All of the plates and utensils were fully compostable; the delicious meal, prepared as always with such care by our chef Jason Kriger, included certified sustainable fish.1 We had participation from every segment of the TOS community, from preschoolers on up! Our total attendance of approximately 300 included about 40 who had not rsvp’d, but our staff was able to accommodate everyone smoothly and efficiently! (Please do make an effort to rsvp on time for future events to help support our staff!)

In a time like this, people need a community like ours more than ever, and I’m so glad to work with such a committed group of congregants and colleagues to create and nurture a community in which anyone seeking meaning and connection can find a home.

It is my honor to lead our community in this time of exceptional challenge and exceptional commitment, strength, and vision by the Jewish people. Thank you for your trust in me. I look forward to continuing to build a wonderful future together.

לחיים ולשלום

L’chayim u’l’Shalom,

To life and to peace,
Rabbi Audrey Marcus Berkman

1From Wikipedia: Sustainable seafood is seafood that is either caught or farmed in ways that consider the long-term vitality of harvested species and the well-being of the oceans, as well as the livelihoods of fisheries-dependent communities. It was first promoted through the sustainable seafood movement which began in the 1990s.