A Time to Rejoice


It seems that time escapes us no matter how we try to hold onto it. It is as though we blink and in an instant, we travel to another time and place. Was it yesterday when we were young and full of life? Perhaps it was a moment ago when we were accomplishing things that seemed unreachable. Regardless, here we are entering a New Year. Hopefully it will be a year filled with many accomplishments and fulfillments.


This New Year at the Sun Lakes Jewish Congregation, we will introduce a newly elected Board of Directors mandated to steer this ship of state in the unchartered waters of the future with responsible stewardship. We will also witness a change at the helm as Geri Gould and Wende Levy retire to the challenges of being referred to as “Past Presidents.”


The task is awesome as new leaders and new Board members take their places in directing a congregation that has endured many changes in its over forty-year history. Members have come and gone, and so have its leaders. But we are stronger than ever, and ever more important in the lives of its constituents and the community around us.


It is because of leaders like Geri and Wende, and those who have preceded them, that have ensured the continuity of our presence in the Sun Lakes area and beyond.


So here we are — a New Year not only representing the march of time but also marking several milestones in our life as a congregation as we continue to enjoy each other and marvel at all we have accomplished. And here we are welcoming and encouraging the leadership of our congregation to complete the task assigned them: The care and maintenance of a viable, meaningful congregation of people from all corners of the country and beyond.


Some of us come from traditional backgrounds, some from liberal leanings, and some from no involvement at all. We all join together to create an atmosphere of caring and commitment to Jewish living. And just as we are all different, so are our understandings of faith. That is the strength of who we are. We have witnessed many occasions this past year: the terror on our streets; the horror of killings in our schools; the continuing plague of a disease that seems to find new life every time we think we have it conquered; the uncontrollable vitriol in the treasured halls of our democracy; the hate-filled rhetoric that gets more difficult each day.


Regardless of the difficulties, we usher in a New Year filled with hope and faith in the betterment of humanity’s efforts to ensure a brighter tomorrow. Mazal tov to those who stepped forward to assist us in our quest of Jewish involvement through service to our congregation and our community. Mazal tov to all who strive to improve our lot in life through reasonable discourse and respect for our differences.


Mazal tov to those who understand that diversity is our strength, not our weakness. Mazal tov to those who will succeed in bringing sanity back to our existence.


We must remember that God wants us to find meaning in our lives, and that is why a path was established — the path of justice, and mercy, thoughtfulness, and understanding, love and a true feeling of intimacy for all humanity. God wants us to have a feeling of peace, and friendship, good heart, and good friends, AND the feeling of a decent life.


We all yearn to stand in places of light — we have seen too much darkness. We all need and want hearts free from pain — we have witnessed to much sadness. We all long for arms to enfold us during difficult periods — the arms of a caring and loving God who fills us with opportunity and blessing.


This is what a New Year is all about, and more! Remember, it is the first day of the rest of our lives as we recall the past and pray for the future.


Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D