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Everybody, Everybody Wants to Be Loved- Gala Weekend, Friday Night, 2022

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

On being honored at the Temple Chai gala-

 

I am feeling so much love in this room right now that it is a bit overwhelming.  It’s too much for me.  Can you feel it?  I’ve been thinking a lot of the song “Everybody” by Ingrid Michaelson, which you have in your Shabbat bulletin.  “Swing open up your chest and let it in; Just let the love, love, love begin.”  The lyrics are in the handout and in your Shabbat bulletin.

Michaelson begins her beautiful reflection with the pain that is an inevitable part of life.  “In this world,” she writes, “It’s hard to get it right.”  An occasion such as this amazing honor has, inevitably, caused me to look back at the pain and failure I have experienced, both personally and professionally.  There have been some very serious hurts and disappointments along the way, experiences that make it hard for ME to open up my heart and let it in.

I know that being a perfectionist is not healthy psychologically or spiritually, and I struggle to be kind and forgiving of my imperfections.  All of your love and kindness, not only this weekend but throughout 15 years of the humble privilege of being your rabbi, have helped me to heal.  “Everybody heals with love,” Michaelson writes.  Your love is healing me.

I have been a rabbi in Arizona for 35 years.  My local career began in the East Valley, where I admired Temple Chai from afar. Temple Chai was a shining light not only in Arizona, but nationally, known for its incredible innovation.   Way prior to serving on staff, I was blessed to speak at Temple Chai events, including the dedication of this sanctuary.  My children and I danced in this very room at concerts when they were young.  It has been a dream come true to be embraced by this community.

Community.  In a myriad of places these last few months, when we have all spoken about what we love most about Temple Chai, community is mentioned over, and over, and over again.  When I posed the question on Facebook, here are a few of the responses:

We appreciate:

Kind and sincere acceptance

The other family that I can count on

Friends that are family

People who are there for each other- “The Temple Chai community has lifted me up at sad times and celebrated with me at happy times.  It takes a village!”

We are:

Welcoming, open, inclusive

A home away from home

Personally, I especially appreciate the love of learning that characterizes Temple Chai.  I remember bringing a guest to visit once, and, as we left the campus, her comment was, “Wow, these people love to learn.”  Since I love to teach, Temple Chai has been a perfect match for me.  And just look at the summary from one of our youngest members in my signature block, “The thing I love about this temple is that you are free to ask and learn anything you would like.”

Education is a priority for us at all ages.  Naturally I want our religious school students to learn A LOT about Judaism.  Yet, even more so, I want them to love being Jewish, to establish their own strong Jewish connections, and to feel safe and welcome at their congregation.  Temple Chai religious school accomplishes all of that and more.

Our ECC, rightly described as “the most loving place on earth.”  Ron and I reflect constantly on how ecstatic we are that our grandchildren get to spend their earliest years in our preschool.  What a special joy to work in a place where you can get a hug from a toddler any time!  And a special thank you to Bree Bales, one of our ECC graduates who celebrates her Bat Mitzvah this weekend and is graciously sharing tonight with me.  She and Maddy are growing up before our eyes.

Temple Chai is known for our Shalom Center, which couldn’t function without the Elisa Lanes Caring Community.  I am deeply grateful to the many, many volunteers who are dedicated to ensuring that no matter what life sends our way, our members feel a sense of loving support.  We lean on each and every one of you; we couldn’t do it without you.

Temple Chai members are dedicated, too, to tikkun olam.  Through a myriad of events and activities, we never forget our responsibility and commitment to making the world a better place.  Halacha, Jewish law, mandates that a synagogue must be built with windows, so that we can see the outside world.  I can truly say that at Temple Chai we never forget the mitzvah of tikkun olam.

I must say a word about our staff.  There is not one person, not one, who works at Temple Chai, who EVER looks at a clock to see how soon it will be time to leave.  We are all honored by the trust that the congregation reposes in us, and we all bring everything we have, and more, to meeting your needs in any and every way we can.

The staff couldn’t do it without a whole cadre of volunteers.  President David Weiner has done an incredible job of recruiting and expanding our volunteer opportunities, and we are moving forward with joyous anticipation.  We have found the PERFECT senior rabbi in Rabbi Segal, and soon we will have the perfect new home.  The best is truly yet to come.

One of the Facebook respondents kindly referenced inspiring and caring clergy.  I can say that the cantor is inspiring and caring.  My caring is unbounded, as to whether I am inspiring?  I humbly defer that judgment.  I recall interviewing for a rabbinic position one time, and I was asked what felt like an odd question- “Why are your sermons better than anyone else’s sermons?”  I could only reply, “I can’t say that my sermons are BETTER than anyone else’s sermons.  I can only tell you that I work hard to prepare.”  Thank you, Cantor Wolman, for being my partner in this holy work.

“Everybody, everybody wants to love.  Everybody, everybody wants to be loved. I love you.  I love that you love each other.  Swing open up your chest and let it in.  Just let the love, love, love begin.”

 

 

 

 

EVERYBODY- Ingrid Michaelson

 

We have fallen down again tonightIn this world it’s hard to get it rightTrying to make your heart fit like a gloveWhat it needs is love, love, love

Everybody, everybody wants to loveEverybody, everybody wants be to lovedOh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Everybody, everybody wants to loveEverybody, everybody wants be to lovedOh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Happy is the heart that still feels painDarkness drains and light will come againSwing open up your chest and let it inJust let the love, love, love begin

Everybody, everybody wants to loveEverybody, everybody wants be to lovedOh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Everybody, everybody wants to loveEverybody, everybody wants be to lovedOh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Oh, everybody knows the loveEverybody holds the loveEverybody folds for love

Everybody feels the loveEverybody steals the loveEverybody heals with loveOh, oh, oh, just let the love, love, love begin

Everybody, everybody wants to loveEverybody, everybody wants be to lovedOh, oh, oh, just let the love, love, love begin

 

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