From The Rabbi’s Desk


As I write this, Hanukkah is about to begin, and 2019 is coming to a close. As with Rosh Hashanah, it’s a time to look back at the previous year and think about the coming year. What’s on the “to-do” list that will carry over? What have I realized probably doesn’t need to be done, and what can I have someone else do? What changes do I want to make (if any) moving forward, especially since we’re beginning not only a new year, but a new decade?

What questions do I need to ask, and what legacy do I want to leave the next generation? How can I work to create the future I want for myself, and what will I need moving forward?

And how do I do this Jewishly? What does living a Jewish life mean to me?

I’m not asking about observance; while I believe that Shabbat and kashrut are important and meaningful, there’s so much more to consider. I grew up in a non-kosher home where grilled cheese and bacon was fine, but you would NEVER see a glass of milk on
the table with a meat meal.

However, I also grew up in the synagogue; my parents were on committees, helped wherever they could, attended classes and programs, donated their time, energy and money, and knew everyone. We went to services on Shabbat, even if the plan was to go shopping after services. I loved Hebrew school. (I only said that out loud once.

I knew of no other way to raise my kids … David and I served on committees, he served as President, I was Ritual VP, and our children grew up in a warm and welcoming congregation.

I realize that may not have been everyone’s experience … growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust took much of the inherent joy out of Judaism and Jewish observance. Synagogues in the 1960s and 70s were authoritarian and “top-down,” with a rabbi and possibly a cantor up on a stage, and a congregation dutifully participating in the responsive readings.

Since I became the Rabbi of the Malverne Jewish Center in 2015, my goal and focus have been to create a sacred space where Baby Boomers and older Jewish adults could explore their Judaism in ways that are meaningful to them; not what I think should be meaningful. Tell me where you are on your Jewish journey – I’ll meet you there and buy the coffee.

May 2020 be filled with love, peace and the fulfillment of potential.

Rabbi Susan Elkodsi