By Rabbi Mark Melamut
Returning home from our annual Sonoma Retreat, I didn’t have much time to unpack my bags before heading out for my Monday morning flight to NYC. Thank goodness I added in a sweater and jacket, because to my surprise I witnessed the first snow of the year in New York. This year’s Sonoma retreat was a wonderful opportunity to gather, and to learn and grow together. It was a special treat to celebrate my birthday with everyone as well, and I’m already looking forward to next year.
Being in NYC afforded me some essential time away to work, to reflect and to play a little too. Happy to return home, I felt relieved, refreshed, and recharged. On my day off the kosher restaurant, Abigael’s, as well as the musical, Pippin, were highly recommended. Following one of the best burgers I’ve ever had, a steak burger of various cuts by chef Jeff Nathan, I was able to see the matinee showing of Pippin. Once I was back on the plane, the music of the show followed me home, but it was the chorus of this song that stuck with me.
“Oh, it’s time to start livin’
Time to take a little from this world we’re given
Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall
In just no time at all….”
Bonnie, our devoted and dedicated synagogue President, and I, were privileged to be together for a workshop hosted by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. We spent an entire day training at the USCJ national headquarters for a workshop that will soon begin for our selected BE “dream team,” nine emerging and young leaders from our community. Between January and June, Bonnie and I will partner to facilitate a class, where we will meet once a month to explore connections with our tradition, our texts and ourselves. Our group will also have several opportunities for Shabbat meals, gathering together for the first one at our home.
Beyond a great day of work and inspiration at the USCJ, it was Pippin that stuck with me. The show’s emphasis on finding the extraordinary within ordinary life, especially family life, brought me to tears of joy. I walked out of the Music Box theatre on Broadway, and I didn’t want to waste a minute of life’s very precious time. It was Pippin’s grandmother who shared with him the wisdom to take time now, because it will pass him by so quickly and soon be gone. This hit home, as it seems true that life really does pass us by so quickly, and that what’s most priceless is making time “to take time.”
A Jewish teaching says something similar. Though it’s followed by a statement regarding the quality of just an hour of bliss in eternal life, it begins, “One hour in this world (spent in repentance and doing good deeds), is better than eternal life…” (Pirkei Avot, 4:22) For every hour, minute, and second in this world, I wonder, if we’re not already “livin,’” than what are we waiting for? It seems like this year, this day, and this moment, are the right time to “start livin’!”
As our springs turn to falls, may we make the time to enjoy them all,
Rabbi Mark Melamut