Modah Ani Lefanecha: I am grateful before you… (Liturgy)
I am grateful before you, Beth Chayim Chadashim. I appreciate the sacred relationship we have shared over the course of these past six years, as rabbi and congregation. All of the incredible expressions of gratitude that you have showered upon me as you have learned of my decision to pursue full time leadership at Temple Beth El of South Orange County come this July have been a testament to that relationship.
The emails, letters, phone calls and words you have shared with me in person reflecting on the meaning of my efforts in our precious community are heartwarming and touching. I will miss you each very much. Thank you for those and for any yet to come.
You have asked and yes, there are a few opportunities yet for us to gather together in community, most notably:
• There will be a tribute to my service to BCC at our Shavuot celebration on Saturday, May 19, beginning at 5pm at BCC,
• I will be honored with the 2018 Giant of Justice Award by CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice) on Thursday, May 31 at 8:00 am at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral,
• I will participate in our annual BCC Vision Awards gala on Sunday, June 3 at the Skirball Cultural Museum, and
• My final role as one of BCC’s rabbis will be officiating at Dora Murray’s bat mitzvah on Saturday, June 16 at 3:00 pm at BCC.
I am honored to have had the opportunity to share some of my life’s purpose here, at the world’s first LGBT-founded Jewish congregation. A congregation whose hallmarks are tenderheartedness, welcome, innovation, and historical significance.
In the Talmud, Rabbi Chanina said, “I have learned much from my teachers, more from my colleagues, and the most from my students” (Ta’anit 7a). I have taken to heart much of what I have learned from you while at BCC.
To all of you who have studied to become B’nai mitzvah with me, whether adult or new adult, your enthusiastic participation in such a meaningful lifecycle event lifted my heart.
To all of you with whom I have had the pleasure of preparing hilarious Purim shpiels, thank you for making Judaism so joyful.
To all of you who have participated in and supported our children’s programs, thank you for making sure that LGBT families and our friends have been supported in the nuanced and sometimes difficult yet incredibly rewarding work of raising kids.
To all of you who have opened your hearts to me, and shared of your soul work, I thank you for those sacred encounters.
To all of you with whom I have engaged in tikkun olam and the pursuit of sacred justice, keep the dream alive and keep doing what you’re doing.
To all of you who have devoted your time to the critical work of synagogue leadership, may you be rewarded in the world to come.
And to my co-clergy, words cannot express the unique role each of you has played in not only my place in the world as a rabbi, but also what a difference you have made to my life path.
As we as Jews remember various points along our collective journey, I will always remember, with fondness, BCC’s impact on my journey.
Moments of transition, like these, are always times of reflection and times of clarifying values, actions and hopes for the future. And as you begin reflecting on what kind of spiritual leader you would like to partner with in this next era of BCC leadership, after my departure and after the well-deserved retirement of our esteemed Rabbi Lisa Edwards, I wish many blessings and especially:
A period of reflection on what rabbinic leadership has looked like at BCC from the beginning when the esteemed Rabbi Janet Marder became the first ordained rabbi of this congregation.
A period of research into various models of rabbinic leadership — what works for other congregations and what might work for the unique and special community that is BCC.
And, I wish you a period of abundant opportunities, clear vision, and a fruitful and sacred partnership with a new spiritual leader.
Thank you all for the immeasurable depth and meaning you have brought into my life.
Very sincerely and with best wishes,
Rabbi Heather Miller