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In Tribute: Temple HaTikvah - a Legacy of Welcome

06/27/2022 08:13:09 AM

Jun27

Rabbi Rudin

This week's D'var is dedicated to Temple HaTikvah, the shul that made me, whose farewell gala last night both broke my heart and filled me with new hope and inspiration.  The holy sparks created by this amazing community will continue to inspire through the ongoing Jewish connection and community-building of the generations of beautiful Yidden who carry and live the truths of this holy Kehilla.  We welcome those families who have chosen Adath Shalom for the continuation of their Jewish journey and through them share the blessings and privilege of carrying on the legacy of HaTikvah, the House of Hope; a legacy not of nostalgia but of joy, commitment to Torah, Am Yisrael and Mitzvot lived every day.  L'chaim!

The House of Hope

A Retrospective of Temple HaTikvah by

Rabbi Moshe Rudin

 

The day that I first came through the doors of Temple HaTikvah was one of the most blessed days of my life.  This jewel of a synagogue, built by the love, dedication, and commitment of this special Jewish community, established generations of holy Jews infused with a special quality of welcoming and warmth.  

Nothing was impossible at HaTikvah. Jewish folks gathered into fellowships of fun, laughter and learning from everywhere.  There were the ones who worked in the tech industries established in western Morris County, young couples with young children who felt so at home at the shul that they’d crawl up on the Bimah and fall asleep while their parents were schmoozing over Kiddush.  There were the remnants of the Jews who had come a hundred or so years before to work in the hospitality industry of the Randolph/Hopatcong area, or even earlier to open businesses to serve the farmers of the Flanders Valley along the Jersey Canal.

But wherever they came from, they brought so much optimism, welcome, talent and a passion for community building that HaTikvah became its own world.  Services, classes, parties, trips, cookouts- whether they packed the house or were just a spirited few, were always balms of friendliness and connection.  Some houses of worship feature greeters: members appointed to welcome new comers.  At HaTikvah that was everyone.  No one entered or left without a smile of genuine concern and connection.  No one felt unincluded. 

HaTikvah was the greatest little big shul ever.  A shul small enough so that one dedicated family could cook a Pesach meal for everyone and large enough so that the Seder would seem so alight with joy and positivity and shining faces as if we were at the veritable feast of the Mashiach.  

And I, in a sort of desperate leap of faith to the next step of my journey, had the privilege of serving HaTikvah as student Rabbi.   Of course it was hard work. But HaTikvah taught me, molded my rabbinate, refined me in flames of service and insight, helped me become a better man, a better Jew and finally, a Rabbi.  How could I not be eternally grateful?

You gave me so much Torah, so many memories, so  many smiling faces, so much kindness, energy, big laughs and some tears.  Music and dedicated volunteer leaders, a well-used Bimah and even more well-used kitchen.. A ton of guys named Larry, beautiful children, passionate Jewish families- rummage sales and Selichot services and about ten tons of bagels over the years; and lest we forget, the royal L’chaim Society which ended every kiddush with a joyful toast for the week ahead.  You exemplified and will always exemplify the kindness and gentleness of our holy traditions, a nobility of character with the most noble trait of all: the trait of humility.  That is what you are and what you inspire me to become.

Even if HaTikvah no longer exists in the same way as before, as Jews we believe that blessings, once given, are never lost.  We teach that Torah is like the flame that ignites from candle to candle.  HaTikvah, the House of Hope, do not say that your candle has ever gone out- for it never will.  Your visionary founder, Sam Golomb of Blessed Memory, who never lacked a holy book from his hand right up to the end and whose blue eyes never lacked a smile said to me that Temple HaTikvah had a part to play in some mysterious way in the redemption of the world.  I do not doubt it.  

Do not be nostalgic- or at least do not suffice with nostalgia.  Instead think about the legacy of this special, sweet little shul in Flanders Valley.  Think about the good times and do not mourn that they are over; instead, let them inspire even more good times, Jewish times, together times, forever times in your hearts and in my heart.  Kein Yehi Ratzon- May it be G-d’s will, Amen.

 

Thu, August 11 2022 14 Av 5782