From The Rabbi’s Desk – Jan-Feb 2019


Susan Elkodsi
In December of 2011, my friend and classmate, Michelene, didn’t show up for our Talmud final. It turned out that she’d had a minor stroke. I joked that there were much easier ways to get out of taking the final. The good news was that after a semester off , she was back in class. Eventually Michelene was ordained, but not until she suffered a few more strokes which have taken a serious toll.

When this happened, I thought about how life can change in an instant, in the blink of an eye. A few months later, that “blink of an eye” happened to me when my father died suddenly, unexpectedly, and way too young. It was no longer theoretical, something that happens to someone else. When things like this happen, it starts us thinking about ourselves; our own mortality, our own lives and how we’re living them.

Growing up female in the 1960s, at the start of “Women’s Lib,” the message I received (and probably told myself) was that I had to compete with men on their turf. I had to be – in addition to a wife and mother – some sort of executive in a high-level position with a terrific career. According to Cosmopolitan magazine, I needed to be the kind of woman who could work all day and with a simple change of accessories, go out all evening. And do it again. I needed to have it all.

The problem with having it all is first, finding someplace to put it, and second – remembering where! I turned 60 back in November. I wish I could say that I spent significant time in self-reflection preparing for this milestone birthday, but I didn’t. I let it happen, and that’s ok. As they say, life is what happens when you’re making other plans.

I’m blessed to be living a life that I’ve chosen and that has chosen me. Working as a rabbi, having a warm, loving husband and family, and a wonderful community – synagogue and otherwise – remind me of these blessings.

But stuff happens, and when it does, we need support, the kind of support that comes from being part of a caring community like the Malverne Jewish Center. Most of us want to be the kind of people upon whom others can depend, and we also want to know that we can depend on others, even if we might be reluctant to ask for that help.

This is the Malverne Jewish Center’s 65th year; we must be doing something right!

Rabbi Susan Elkodsi