I am honored to be a part of this historic community as the Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple Emanu-El. As the first Reform Jewish Congregation in New York City, our temple holds a remarkable legacy of leadership and innovation. I am privileged to be part of this esteemed community, working alongside our exceptional clergy and staff committed to excellence.

As I embark on this new role, I am reminded of a profound story shared by Rabbi Israel Salanter, the founder of the Modern Musar or Jewish Ethical Mindfulness Movement. He once reflected, “When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. But I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my country. When I found I couldn’t change my country, I began to focus on my town. However, I discovered that I couldn’t change the town, so as I grew older, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an older man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, but I’ve come to recognize that if I had started with myself, then I could have made an impact on my family. And my family and I could have made an impact on our town. And that, in turn, could have changed the country, and we could all have changed the world.”

This story profoundly resonates with me as it underscores the power of personal transformation. As the Director of Lifelong Learning, I firmly believe that by starting with ourselves and our families, we can make a profound difference in the world. Through modeling Jewish life and values in our own lives, we inspire others to follow suit. Together, as a collective family of families, we can create a ripple effect that extends far beyond the boundaries of our community.

Every child and family within our congregation holds unique stories and needs, and our sacred duty is to make them feel wanted, needed, and warmly welcomed. Who better to express these needs than our children, families, and our teens?

As we embark on this transformative journey together, let us always remember that our goal is to develop a deep love for Torah, Tzedakah, and acts of love and kindness that will last a lifetime. Let us create a vibrant community of learners who support and inspire one another to reach their full potential.

We are dedicated to creating a new culture of אַהֲבָה- ahava (love) and הַכָּרַת הַטּוֹב – hakarat ha’tov (gratitude). We believe that fostering a sense of love and gratitude within our community will not only enhance our educational experience but also strengthen the bonds between our students, families, and teachers. Through these Jewish values, we will create an environment that promotes kindness, empathy, and appreciation for our blessings.

And we will achieve this through the power of Joy! Rabbi Nachman wisely taught, “Remember: Joy is not merely incidental to your spiritual quest. It is vital.” With love and joy, I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to meet and connect with each of you in the coming months.

Thank you for your warm welcome and unwavering support as we embark on this exciting journey together.