I'll miss the changing seasons, from the vibrancy of spring and rich green summers, to the colors of fall and sparkling shades of winter. I'll miss the taste of fresh cider and maple syrup, the smell of wood burning, and the distinctive charm of every town, village, farm and home I've had the occasion to visit.
I'm glad my children have had these past two years to get to know people and places here, and to enjoy the local swimming holes and ski slopes. I hope their memories remain fresh in their minds, inviting them to return and feel at home here anytime in their long lives to come.
While many friendships have been forged here, in truth, every interaction has had lasting value. I regret what opportunities may have been lost or never pursued on my part, and can only imagine what good things might have occurred. That beingsaid, I am grateful for the many good things that did.
There were many experiences and friendships I'll remember, but what I'll remember most has to do with the very reason I came here in the first place. My purpose for being here all along has been two-fold: (1) to develop my skills as a rabbi and, in doing so, improve the quality of life for myself and my family; and (2) to develop my skills as a rabbi and, in doing so, improve the quality of life for members of the local community.
For myself and my family, I managed to squeak by financially and was quite content until a new opportunity opened up that would not have otherwise been possible. But even aside from this, our lives have been enriched from being here in immeasurable ways. For these blessings, I am grateful.
As for improving the quality of life for members of the local community, this is a little harder to assess. Improvement within a Jewish congregation can (and should) be measured by an increase in involvement and revenues. It can be measured by the number of new families joining the congregation and enrolling in the Hebrew school, and in the number of new people serving as communal leaders and volunteers. Improvement can be measured by an increase in enrichment opportunities and civic engagement, and in the level of respect and awareness outsiders have for our Jewish community. It can be measured by an increased level of enthusiasm and support for Israel and in more people doing mitzvot and feeling connected to each other and to Jews around the world. And improvement can be measured by greater participation in prayer, study and other forms of Jewish spiritual practice.
It's hard to gauge what impact I may have had in these areas given the many other variables involved, and we may never really know the true measure of any success. At the very least, I gave it my best effort and enjoyed a moderate amount of success in some areas. But while measuring successes may be a valuable exercise for another time, my point here is only to spell out what I tried to achieve and to say that there were many whom I came to know as partners in this work.
Yes, I will miss the scenery, pleasant experiences and relationships I've enjoyed while here in Vermont. But most of all, I will miss those whom I came to know as partners. I will remember, most fondly and with gratitude, those who challenged, encouraged and inspired me to become a better person and a better rabbi. You know who you are. Thank you.
In the end, pleasant experiences and relationships are important. Life would be a drag without them. But the experiences and relationships worth cherishing most, in my humble opinion, are those which challenge, encourage and inspire us to realize our true purpose in life. To that end, my hope is that we'll all continue to find, be, and cherish good partners.