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Rabbi Greenstein's Installation Remarks
Rabbi Goldenberg – my chavruta – my friend in Torah study – thank you for your words and for taking part in this day’s ritual of affirmation of the covenant that Congregation Shomrei Emunah and I have entered into together.
Thank you for reminding us that Avraham Avinu – Abraham our father – also had a father and mother, a background to draw from and to continue, even as his journey took on the nature of a new beginning.
Both covenantal partners here today - Congregation Shomrei Emunah and I – have undertaken a new beginning, while we simultaneously draw from our past, our origins and our influences.
First and foremost – there are no words to express my love for and debt to my life partner, Zelda. We have traveled together on a path many thousands of miles longer than even Sarah and Abraham. And I, too, believe, like Abraham, that God has commanded me – “whatever your wife says, listen to her voice.” And we, too, have been blessed with - b'nenu, y'chidenu, asher ahavnu - our unique son whom we love, Yonah. May we merit to see him grow in his own path of Torah, good deeds and loving commitment.
I am joyously grateful that so many of my friends and loved ones - who have sustained me along my path - are here to join our community and our distinguished guests in celebrating this new beginning. I must single out and welcome my teacher Rabbi Bernard Zlotowitz who has honored me by being here today and who will soon ascend this bimah.
To the members of the Search Committee – To our President, Mr. Jay Sabin, to Renata Worob and Larry Schwartz, Installation co-chairs, to the Board and to all the amazing people – staff and volunteers - who devote themselves night and day to making Congregation Shomrei Emunah survive and thrive, who have been so graciously supportive and welcoming to Zelda and Yonah and me, I am profoundly thankful.
I have just begun to get to know Shomrei - each member, individually, as well as collectively, as a community – personal stories, desires, capacities and challenges, as well as communal history – Shomrei’s struggles, along with its many, many gifts, accomplishments, yearnings and strivings. The panoply of activities and themes celebrated today – Torah study, social justice, cultural arts, environmental health, working toward both physical and spiritual wholeness, our concern for Israel and for each other, young and old – these are only, as the program says – a Taste of Shomrei.
And you have begun to get to know me. Many of you already know that my path to the rabbinate was long and circuitous. My entire life I have wrestled with two loves and aspirations – two all-consuming quests – my desire for a life of creativity and my desire for a life of holiness.
Neither in yeshivah, nor in Israel, nor in the art world, nor in academia was I able to find the wherewithal to join these two passions. The missing ingredient was community. And then I found it – or rather, then a community found me. It is such a blessing for me to share this moment with many of my former congregants from New Hyde Park. Thank you for showing me the way to attempt to join these two elusive elements – creativity and holiness – into a life of calling, as your rabbi.
And now I have arrived at this moment of new beginning. As I mentioned, I see my new rabbinic relationship with Shomrei Emunah in covenantal terms –
V’erastikh li l’olam – I am bound to you in all things;
V’erastikh li b’tzedeq u-v’mishpat - I am bound to you in the name of all that is just and fair;
U’vchesed u-v’rachamim – but also in the name of loving kindness and compassion;
V’erastikh li b’emunah – and I am bound to you – Shomrei Emunah – Faithful Guardians – in the name of that faithfulness.