In 1902, an Austrian journalist named Theodore Herzl wrote a novel in German entitled, Altneuland, “The Old New Land,” about a man who saw Palestine as it was then, and as it could become. So, too, it is for us here at Temple this summer, as we look back toward our beautiful past and forward toward our bright future.
This summer we will welcome two new staff members, our Assistant Rabbi Matthew Cohen, and our Religious School Director, Ronnie Ticker. Both will bring excitement and enthusiasm to our congregation and will help us grow in ways we cannot yet imagine. I hope you will join me in welcoming them to our congregational family and supporting them as they begin their work. We are truly blessed to have such excellent team members.
If cycles are to go all the way around, arrivals must, sadly, be accompanied by departures. This month we bid farewell to two beloved members of our Temple family. Denyse Diggins, whose cheerful welcoming face has greeted all who enter our doors will retire at the end of June. Denyse has encouraged all our children as they proceeded through the B’nei Mitzvah preparation process for eleven years. We shall miss her. I will miss Jo-Ellen Unger, who has served our congregation so wonderfully for these past nine years. I will miss her vibrant spirit, her upbeat can-do attitude and her beautiful music leading us in learning, worship and life. I know all of our congregants join me in wishing Jo-Ellen, Adam, Jacob and Micah, all the best and the greatest of happiness and success as they move to Maryland this summer.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. As we transition in our ownlives and in the life of our congregation this summer, let us remember to see the bigger picture as well. For 130 years, the Temple has stood as a beacon of light, a barometer of progress and a bastion of tradition for the Jews of Jacksonville and for our city as a whole. With your commitment, support and participation, it will stand for generations to come. So, too, the names of our Confirmation Class on the cover of this Messenger remind us of the best of both our past and our future. As they stand up and choose to take their place in the history of the Temple, so, too, do they represent our brightest hope for tomorrow.
In the epilogue of Altneuland, Herzl wrote the famous words, “If you will it, it is no dream.” Just as it was the rallying cry for the eventual creation of the modern State of Israel, so too, may the old and the new inspire us to keep spiraling forward toward tomorrow, together.