Did you know that some people consider there to be seven books of the Torah? During one of the Rabbi’s recent Shabbat sermons, we learned that there is a portion in Numbers (Bamidbar) that is set off from the rest of the section with the letter Nun (one on each side, inverted like parentheses). There are only a few lines in this section, and the midrash says that this would have been the final book if Israel had not committed the multitude of rebellious acts in the Sinai leading up to and around the time when Moses received the 10 commandments. While there is a proper name for this book-that-did-not-happen, I have come to think of it as the Book of What Could Have Been.
I don’t know about each of you, but I have been working on my personal Book of What Could Have Been for over 40 years. Ever since that first time I turned left when I had the option to go right or straight, I have been wondering, “What would have happened if…” Even this afternoon, when I finally settled on Purple Cow ice cream, I quickly drafted another chapter titled, “What would have happened if I chose Moose Tracks?” Life is about making decisions and living with the concequences, but it sure does not stop us from wondering about the alternate path.
One chapter I have been working on for the past couple of years is, “What Would Have Happened If I Had Not Accepted the Temple President Position?” And I have to tell you, it is one of the shortest chapters in my book. As I think about all the great people I have been able to meet, all the wonderful experiences we have had together, and all the good things I have been positioned to do on behalf of the Temple, I have no regrets and find no desire to spend a minute thinking about any other path.
The past two years as the President have been a wonderfully positive experience for me, and I want to thank you all for giving me this opportunity. The feedback and response from every intiative we implemented has been supportive, constructive, and overwhelmingly positive. Whether it was a kind comment on a bulletin article, a donation in response to a fund drive or plea, or increasing your personal committment to a Shabbat service or weekday minyan, every contribution was noticed and appreciated. Temple Beth Sholom really is a special place with a congregation that is remarkably spiritually connected.
Thank you to the many officers, board members, and volunteers who have contributed over the course of my term. Without their cooperation, hard work, and dedication, the Temple would not be the special place it is. Thank you to Rabbi Scolnic for offering advice, counsel, and insight. And finally, special thanks to Stacey, Jacob, Alex, Ari, and Aviva for being undersanding as I ran off to meetings, talked to people on the phone, or sat on the Bimah instead of with them every Shabbat.
So now, while there are still chapters to be added in my Book of What Could Have Been, this one can be removed. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be without the friendships I have developed as President, so I think I’ll just delete the whole thing.