Posted on May 1, 2022 by Sarah Gluck
Our Celebration Under the Stars honoring Sarah Gluck on her retirement was a joyous weekend (April 29-30). So many people spoke beautifully of their respect and appreciation of Sarah. And Sarah closed out the celebration with these words of thanks:
Thank you, Arnie. And everyone who has spoken, sung, played, and so, so much more. Thank you for everything. What an incredible night — what an incredible weekend. I couldn’t feel more blessed or be more grateful.
So much love has been poured into this evening — this whole weekend — and my heart is full. How can I even begin to thank you? So I’ve composed a letter — a love letter — letters, actually, by way of a Hebrew acrostic — that expresses my feelings of appreciation and gratitude and love for you.
It starts with alef, which stands for ahavah, love.
Bet is for bayit, house or home; beit-eil means House of God; beit sefer, House of the Book, or school — and b’rachah is blessing. What a blessing it is to call this Beth-El my second home. What an honor it has been — a blessing — to have been entrusted with helping to make our school a safe and loving second home for the precious children of this community.
Gimmel is for g’milut chasadim. The acts of lovingkindness — big and small, behind the scenes and out in front — that the members of this community perform day by day is astonishing and an ongoing source of inspiration.
Dalet is for delet, door. What a source of pride that our synagogue opens its doors to all who would want to enter. May it always be so.
Hay is for “Hineini.” This congregation has a long and proud history of members who say “Here I am” when asked to step up to lead this community. Your vision, talent, devotion to the cause, and love continue to build and sustain us. What a blessing you are. Special thanks and gratitude to the current constellation of visionary execs — Gary, Andrea, and Jeff — and the entire Oversight Committee and Board of Trustees.
Vav is for va’ad, committee, and v’idah, meeting. I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude to the committee that spent hours in meetings and worked so hard for months to plan and execute this entire weekend. They poured their hearts and souls into making it special for me and a special opportunity for us to come back together after such a long time apart. Ronnie, Roxanne, Bryan, Gari Bloom, Andrea, Gary Cohen, Donna, Robin, Jeff Resnick, Melissa, Amy A., Amy E., Lynn, JT, and Elayne — from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you!
Zayin is for — well, this one’s a bit of a fudge. Zayin is for ZIP code. This is a shout-out to Art Roswell, who has taught us over the years that even as we give to sustain our own community, we must never fail to look beyond it to care for the sisters and brothers we don’t know but who are part of the family.
Chet stands for chaverim/chaveirot — “members” and also “friends.” A wonderful feature of this community is that the members of this congregation are also friends. And how fortunate I am to have so many deep and abiding friendships with you. And to my dear friends from out of town who are joining us for this special occasion, I’m so happy you are here.
Tet is for tov, good. There’s not a whole lot more to say about that — it’s self-evident — this community is good!
Yud stands for y’ladim, children — the greatest blessing of all. It has been an honor and a privilege and a complete, utter joy to fulfill the commandment, “V’shinantam l’vanecha, You shall teach your children.” The children of Beth-El — my work children — the kids we like to call The World’s Greatest Religious School Students — are our communal blessing. My personal children — Ellie and Shira — and you, Lizzie — are the lights of my life and the source of my greatest joy.
Kaf is for keif — FUN! Plain and simple. The members of this congregation like to have fun. It’s fun to be together. It’s been fun (mostly) to come to work. Seriousness of purpose can always be infused with fun and a playful spirit.
Lamed is for lomdim, learners. Our community values education and ours is a learning congregation. Whether formally in our studies or informally in life, we are always learning and growing. Pirkei Avot teaches: “Eizehu chacham? Ha-lomeid mikol adam, Who is wise? The one who learns from all people.” Everyone has something to teach, and from each and every one of you, I have learned. Thank you.
Mem is for mishpachah, family. There’s our family of origin, which we don’t choose (but, wow, did I luck out with mine — and I am so happy and blessed to have my mother, my sister and sister-in-law, and my beloved children and granddaughter here tonight). And there’s our family of choice — our friends and community. Our temple family is my family of choice — and I feel forever blessed to be a part of you.
Nun is for nissim and nifla’ot, miracles and wonders. The world is a wondrous place and every day is full of miracles, great and small. Our tradition teaches us that the day-to-day is, itself, miraculous, and that we should open our eyes to see it. I hear another voice in my head — the voice of our beloved Goldie — and her signature phrase, “Isn’t. It. Wonderful!”
Samech and pay are for seiver panim yafot, another great life lesson from Pirkei Avot, which teaches us to talk less, do more, and greet everyone with a smile.
Ayin, which comes in-between those two letters is for Ivrit, Hebrew, the riches and rewards of which I’ve been talking about for so many years that I don’t need to say anything more now, other than thank you for opening yourselves to the beauty of our sacred language. Hebrew is a lifelong passion of mine and I’m excited about the opportunity to devote more time to my studies.
Tzadee is for tzedek, justice or righteousness, and tzedakah, righteous acts. This congregation has always devoted itself to both the principle and the practice.
Kuf stands for k’hillah, community, and kadosh means holy. In our strivings to make the world a better place, ours is truly a k’hillah k’doshah, a holy community.
Resh is for the adjective rav, much or many or abundant, and the noun rav, rabbi. Arnie, this one’s for you. I won the lottery, hit the jackpot, got dealt a royal flush when I met you. Talk about abundance. How could we have known that we would become life partners, thought partners, work partners? How could we have imagined the riches and rewards of the life we chose? And here we are. What a blessing to spend my days with you. Arnie, b’yachad keif l’hizdakein.
Shin is for shutafut, partnership and cooperation. It has been my great good fortune over the years to work with many, many wonderful, talented people — in deep, creative, and mutually supportive sacred partnership with lay volunteers and with my colleagues. It has been an honor and a privilege, and I have learned so much from all of you. Debra, we worked together for a decade — what a thrill it is that you’re here. Lisa, we had a good thing going for 13 years — I am grateful for our partnership! To the entire current team — Arnie, Risa, Lisa, and Amy — each of you possesses abundant talents and skills. I thank you for the gifts you give daily to the congregation and to me. Andrea Dean, your presence warms the school office and enhances our ed program — thank you. Melissa, you bring such devotion and a wonderful can-do approach to so many areas of temple life, including your own learning, thoughtful volunteering, and now, working in the office — thank you.
Over the years, there have been so many wonderful members of the Religious School Committee, now called the Education Committee and so ably chaired by Jodi Smith — thank you all. Our teachers (so many of whom have grown up in the congregation, including a few here tonight) are so caring and skilled. They give unstintingly of themselves to our precious children — it has been my honor to share our sacred task with you. Kathy Shanklin, you’ve been at Temple Beth-El almost as long as our family has; your musical talent is unparalleled, and I can’t imagine services without you. Our support staff keeps this place going, with genuine devotion and good cheer, and I am grateful to each of you. Thank you, Fernando, Jennifer, and Luis.
Children are people, too, and deserve to be acknowledged for the positive attitude they bring when they come here, the kindness with which they treat one another, and the joy they give us by their very presence. They, too, are partners. To the parents of our temple kids, we are your partners, and we thank you for entrusting us with them.
Every single member of our temple family — all of you here — are shotfim, partners in sustaining the vision of our founders and keeping this beautiful synagogue community going.
And now I’m going to violate my own rules about reciting the alef-bet and include the letter sin, because how could we not talk about simchah, happiness? A continuation of the verse from Pirkei Avot that I mentioned before teaches: “Eizehu ashir, Who is rich? Ha-sameiach b’chelko, The one who is content with their lot.” I am s’meichah b’chelki, happy with what life has given me — and so very blessed.
Lastly, tav is for todah — THANK YOU. For the 31 years of being part of this special community, for the 25 years of our professional association, for this incredible weekend of celebration, for the precious time yet to come — thank you, thank you — from the bottom of my heart, thank you!