I remember the first time I heard Debbie Friedman's "L'chi Lach." I was 13 and I was attending a youth group event at my synagogue, Tree of Life Congregation in Columbia, S.C. I am sure now that I was confused and full of mixed emotions. It was different - I had never heard it before. It was beautiful - I felt an immediate connection to the music. It was magical - that memory has remained stamped in my memory ever since. I have heard many Jewish songs since and before that day. However, that one memory is as vivid today as it was 28 years ago when I heard it for the first time.
This week, we read from Parashat "Lech Lecha," the part of Genesis in which God challenges Abraham to leave the land of his forefathers, the only land he knew - to a new Land in which God would accompany him and be with him from that moment on. In my life, I have been on many journeys, traveling across cities, states and countries. However, the most gratifying of these journeys was when I traveled from Baltimore, Maryland to Phoenix, Arizona in March, 2001. You see - I was moving from one "strange" land to another "strange" land. The driving force in this new move was my desire to begin my life with my beloved Batya....and I have never turned back since.
Now, granted, Batya and I have traveled on several journeys since: from Phoenix to Duluth, Ga.; from Duluth to Sandy Springs, Ga.; from Sandy Springs to Roswell, Ga.; from Roswell to Jerusalem; from Jerusalem to Cincinnati; from Cincinnati to Marietta, Ga.; and most recently from Marietta to Knoxville, Tn. We have learned a lot about ourselves and each other along the way. From our first journey we went from a family of 2 (plus a dog) to a family of 5 now in Knoxville. There have been ups and downs; good days and not so good days. It is often the journey that is the challenge and sometimes it is the destination rather than the journey.
This brings me to now. We are a family of 5 living in Knoxville, Tn. Who would have thought that this UGA Dawg would wind up being extremely happy in the middle of "Orange" town? But, it is true...we have found our home here - at Temple Beth El, in Rocky Hill, at the Webb School...it all just fits. And, we are extremely blessed and honored to be here! Just like Abraham, we were unsure at first of this move...just like for Abraham, our journey was NOT easy. However, also just like Abraham, we are better off for the journey AND proud to be in this new destination!
I am a husband, father and rabbi - just trying to help to make the world a better place!