Of course, I have to start this message by saying that I am grateful that the standoff at the Texas synagogue tonight has ended with the release of all hostages. It’s been a rough night, and a rough year, and it’s hard to absorb so much pain and suffering in the world. And when prayers don’t feel like enough, we have poetry and community and friends to lean on. And we can always have hope.
This is my final Saturday night post as the Managing Director of the Soul Center. I don’t know exactly how to sum up the past six years of my professional time with all of you at The Soul Center, so someone suggested to me tonight that I just do a top 10 list!! Here are the 10 things that I’m going to miss the most. I hope you’ll permit me this indulgence to spend a little time reflecting. Here are 10 memories and things I’m so proud of, looking back over six years.
10 . Stand up paddle board yoga. For me, the combination of body, movement, spirit, and heart is really like a bullseye for what the Soul Center is all about. Taking a cool, hip fun thing to do and putting that Jewish spin on it. Just the best.
9. Caregiver Cafe. Witnessing people in the midst of their holy work serving as caregivers for their loved ones. And seeing people support each other in such a beautiful way- it truly is a sacred community and I feel so proud that The Soul Center could be a part of bringing these incredible people together.
8. Shir Joy, but especially the Shir Joy rehearsals. Getting to watch the development of ritual in real time. Sitting at the sidelines, watching musicians tap directly into the heart of what the community needs to hear at that particular time. Do we need hope? Do we need love? Do we need comfort? And what are the songs that transport us to that place in time?
7. Getting to be involved with so many mikvah immersions. Bearing witness to your pain, your joy, your transitions. And building the group of mikvah guides- you are the most incredibly gifted and sensitive people and it’s a joy to be around all of you.
6. Calling together the community in the immediate aftermath of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. I always thought that The Soul Center could be a kind of first responder place for the soul, but this moment proved it.
5. Working with a wonderful group of professionals …I won’t go through naming all the names at Beth El, but please know your humor, commitment and incredible follow-through has been a great team to be a part of.
4. And to Julie Hettleman- my partner in everything- you are one of my favorite people on the planet. I have learned so much from you and getting to work with you has been the greatest privilege.
3. Watching the growth of Soul Center micro-communities, including Zentangle and Morning Gratitude. The pandemic has given us the gift of connecting through Zoom in profound and intimate ways- beyond what we could have ever imagined prior to March of 2020. I am grateful to see what The Soul Center has been able to provide over the last two years.
2. The incredible lay leadership of volunteers- from the original dream team of 4 (you know who you are), to the current Dream Team and Launch Team of today- your brilliance, your imagination, your just awesomeness- you have been an inspiration to me and the engine that moves the Soul Center forward. I count you amongst my dear friends and I am so grateful for your investment in this special place.
- Rabbi Dana Saroken. Our rock, our founder, our inspiration, our source of passion and the reason for The Soul Center. The depth of my gratitude knows no bounds. To have gotten to be by your side for six years has been a gift that I will treasure forever.
Please know that as my professional time comes to an end, I will remain very involved and connected to the Soul Center. I won’t be gone- you should expect to see me all the time, particularly with the mikvah. It’s been the trip of a lifetime. Thank you for everything.