B’dibur Echad

 I tried to leave the room without making any noise at 6:40 this morning. Nevertheless, my husband called out, “Where are you going so early?”

“To the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion Alumni Breakfast” I responded.

“Why so early?” “Do you really need to be there?”

While I had no good answer to the first question, the second was easy.

Yes, I need to be there! The Alumni breakfast is my favorite part of the CCAR Conference. It’s not because of the scholarship (which was great – thank you Aaron Panken).

No, it’s the roll call. It always strikes a chord that reverberates in my soul.

Rabbi Walter Jacob, Class of 1955

As colleagues Chuck Briskin and Jim Prosnit called out each class year, starting with current students and then transitioning to the most recent ordinees, my heart filled with anticipation. 2016. 2015, 2014…. Every class has its own character. When my year (1997) came, we stood up and cheered.

Then I sat back and watched. As each class ascended, I thought of the legacies created and the lives moved. I reflected on our shared experiences as well as the unique visions. I was mindful of the journeys we had endured. And I was thankful for the scholars that inspired us.

The roll call ended with Walter Jacob, Class of 1955. As he stood (to a rousing ovation), I wondered …. When Walter attended his first CCAR conference, what luminaries stood at roll call whose careers spanned over 60 years? Were there rabbis ordained by Isaac Mayer Wise?

We are a living bridge to both yesterday and tomorrow. That’s why I got up at 6am to attend this breakfast. I take my place with such honor as part of this chain. It’s a sacred and shared, somewhat ironic responsibility. After all, we transform the world while keeping it stable – b’dibur echad.

Rabbi Zach Shapiro serves Temple Akiba in Culver City, CA.

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