Yom Kippur 2014

My Graduation Speech

It has been quite a year for my family.  Maybe that is an understatement.  This New Year has brought with it a new direction for us.  We are moving to Columbia, SC.

Yesterday we packed all that we own on a moving truck and sent it south.  When we will see it again is unknown.  It was wonderfully freeing to let go of it all (for now).  The timing so significant.  It has removed the clutter from my line of sight.  I can see that what I have with me, is all that I need.

12 years ago, when we moved to Chicago from TN, I felt I landed on a different planet.  I had not lived anywhere but the South.  I did not own a real coat.  I did not understand the depth of the word “winter”.  I did not even have an accent before I moved here. 🙂

And I was not Jewish.  But I wanted to be.  More importantly, I wanted my children to be.

12 years ago, the very first person I met in this community was Amy.  The very second person was her sister-in-law, Laurie.  Looking back, I now understand the significance.


I had left everything behind, including family.  I had set out on a journey, a Quest.  And G-d had sent me guides.

They adopted us into their family and community.  Then they spent the next 12 years educating us about what that really means.

When I talk to G-d about it, the conversation goes something like this:   “WOW  THANKS”

They not only taught me how to cook and the proper way to throw a dinner.  They held my hand through 2 conversions, my wedding, a Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and the birth of 2 more children.

Then they held me up when I faced a fight with cancer this year.  They taught me how to broaden and deepen my definition of family.  They taught me how to give of myself.  How to welcome a stranger.  They taught me what it means to be a Jew.

As our son, Noah, graduated from 12 years of Jewish education…so do I.

As he sets out on a Quest to find his mission in the world…so do we.

I am ready.  Amy and Laurie, you have prepared me well.  I take all your loving and giving with me.  I am stronger and deeper and bigger than before knowing you.  So I say to you, “WOW  THANKS”

Although Yom Kippur is a time of atonement, I keep falling into gratitude.  It is clear that all my blessings have been undeserved.  Simply Grace.

My prayer for Yom Kippur is this, “Please write me into the book of life!  For another year of life here on Earth is just too good to miss”.

I do not know what it will bring.  I head into Sukkot without even a tent.  Just a suitcase, my family and a direction on our compass.  Yet, I fully expect that the Lord will, again, give me all that I need.  I have learned that it will be wilder and more magnificent than I can even imagine.

So ahead of time I say,   “WOW  THANKS”