Rumi illuminating morning prayer
My second smicha

Dear ALEPH and Ohalah hevre

Dear ALEPH and Ohalah hevre,

Y'all are awesome.

Okay, I don't actually know all of you. Even after six Ohalah conferences, I don't quite know everyone in Ohalah, and it's a little bit surreal to discover that I don't know all of the ALEPH ordination students anymore, either. But many of you are among the people most dear to me, and many others among you are the kind of once-a-year-friends with whom I am always happy to daven, to eat, to sing, to exchange a beatific smile across the sanctuary or across the buffet line.

Some of you are people I met at my very first retreats at the old Elat Chayyim in Accord, New York, back when I was first discovering Jewish Renewal and learning that the Reb Zalman about whom I had read in The Jew in the Lotus really was as wonderful as he sounded. Some of you are people I met during my first smicha students' week, when I was in the process of applying to the ALEPH rabbinic program -- I remember raising a cup of ginger tea with some of you in the old Elat Chayyim dining room, toasting to "smicha or bust!" Some of you I have known since college; some of you I have only just met.

Some of you are teachers who have enriched my life with the wonder of Torah's endless riches. Some of you are my friends who have also become my teachers. Some of you are my teachers who have also, much to my delight, become my friends. Some of you laid your hands on me this time last year and ordained me to serve as a rabbi, which remains one of the most powerful experiences of my life. Some of you laid your hands on me this year and ordained me as a spiritual director, which was gentle and sweet.

During these five days of Shabbaton and conference we've davened, sung, studied, and chatted together. We've opened our minds and hearts to new ideas and new insights. We've luxuriated together in the hot tub under the stars. We've argued and discussed, learned and leyned. We know that these are things which have no limit, and that we are blessed to be able to do them together.

I love the fact that every year at this season I get to join you here in Colorado, to beam at you and embrace you, to catch up on your lives and to share news of mine, to show off photos of our children and our pets on our phones. I love the fact that when we daven together I get to sing favorite old melodies and also to learn new ones. I love how we break into impromptu harmony together, day after day. I love how every time we gather, the time since our last gathering seems to collapse in a kind of tesseract and it's as though we never parted.

Thanks for a wonderful Shabbaton and conference. I'm heading home happily exhausted, my brain filled with ideas and melodies, my heart filled with our connections. Cosi revaya: my cup overflows. May your travels home be safe and smooth, and may the Holy One of Blessing watch over you until we meet again.