It has come, O’ Lord, the moment of truth. A harsh reality must be faced.
And we don’t want to. We wish we could close our eyes and it would go away. It won’t. Try as we might, deny or mask over, a reality, out in the open or lurking in the shadows, can’t evaporate into thin air.
Despite pain and reluctance, we must face the problem. And when we do, a decision must be made. A harsh, crucial decision. A flat yes or no.
We know, O’ Lord, no matter whether personal or business, a parting, a staying, a giving, a taking, a beginning, an ending, life or death, there must be mind-searching, weighing, debating. And the final yes, or no, must be our own. It’s a lonely pathway.
Until then, O’ Lord, grant us the understanding to know that until we face our problem, we can’t solve it.
Grant us the courage to face it without flinching, the wisdom to choose the decision wisely, and the fortitude to accept the consequences.
Help us, O’ Lord, not to run away.
I wonder what issue (or issues) my grandmother was facing when she wrote this invocation. Was she referring to herself or someone else?
Several thoughts are running through my mind when I read this invocation. First, the synagogue where I attend, has been searching for a senior rabbi for the past six or so months. The current rabbi announced his retirement, and a replacement needs to be found. The junior rabbi, a wise woman, who’s been with the synagogue for over ten years, was one of the top six candidates. She wasn’t chosen, however. Two male rabbis were selected. Both declined, citing family issues.
A week later, the woman rabbi gave her notice. The synagogue is now left with having to quickly identity an interim rabbi or perhaps offer the position to one of the other top candidates. It’s a harsh reality.
My empathy for the situation, nevertheless, doesn’t reside with the synagogue, but the female rabbi who was passed over.
For the past ten years, she’s juggled driving 60 miles, several times a week, from Olympia, Washington, where her husband is a rabbi at another synagogue, to Bellevue, Washington, where she’s the junior rabbi. In addition, she has two young sons, the oldest celebrated his Bar Mitzvah last year.
She’s been a fine rabbi, education director, and advocate for women’s issues. She’s influenced the direction of the synagogue, making it a caring and inclusive environment that puts more emphasis on the welfare of its members and devotion to Judaism, than their status and monetary donations (often a determining factor in certain reform congregations).
Plain and simple, she was the logical choice to succeed the senior rabbi, and build on the reputation, direction, and aura of the synagogue. Aura is the correct word. A rabbi like her, who greets everyone that walks through the doors, looking them in the eye, and taking a genuine interest in their lives, is what turns a cold sanctuary into an accepting haven.
The harsh reality she faced was whether she should continue to say “yes,” in spite of the rabbi search committee saying “no,” or the difficult choice of choosing “no,” after giving ten selfless years to the congregation. She strove down a “lonely path,” but in the end, she made a thoughtful decision.
By not selecting the candidate with the most experience with the congregation’s values, its members, religious school programs, local, and extended community, the rabbi search committee disregarded their core duty of retaining and building on the momentum of the synagogue. Hopefully, they have the strength of character to accept the results of their decision.