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Shabbat Message from Rabbi Aft

04/24/2015 10:07:59 AM


Dear Friends,


I don't know where to start.  This week marked one of the saddest occasions of my personal and rabbinic life as I attended the funeral of Grace Mann, a college student at the University of Mary Washington. She was murdered while at UMW and over one thousand people attended the funeral at Temple Rodeph Shalom on Tuesday morning.


Since I have a relationship with some of her friends who I taught last semester in a Judaism course at UMW, I drove down to Fredericksburg after minyan on Wednesday night to lead a memorial.  A number of students attended and we spoke about their relationship with Grace and how to carry on her memory.  Grace was a dynamic force for social change on that campus and was clearly a source of inspiration and support for so many.  She will be truly missed and all of our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends as they cope with the unspeakable tragedy.  


On a much different note, tomorrow is among the most special days I will ever experience in my personal and professional life.  As you all know by now, Dan Ebert is celebrating the 70th anniversary of his becoming a Bar Mitzvah.  Given that he is only 39, I don't understand his arithmetic, but he is celebrating a religious occasion, not a mathematicical one:-)


How do I describe what it will mean to me to preside at the service of a man who together with Eileen Kugler chaired the committee that hired me 24 years ago?  How do I describe a man who will deny this, but started our Wednesday night minyan after my dad died so that I could say Kaddish for him?  Dan claims he would have established this service anyway, and I should probably believe him, but I know better and will be eternally grateful.  How do I describe a man who each of our children knows the "religious guy" who always attends services and welcomes children to join him for his kohen aliyah when there are students at services?  How do I describe a man who regularly attends Torah study and is always insightful and engaging?  


Most importantly:-), he married Beryl who supports us in so many ways and speaking selfishly, is responsible for at least half of my body weight through her baking which she generously provides each Wednesday night for minyan and countless other occasions:-)  Each Shabbat when there isn't a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, together they come in early and set up the Kiddush.


So, what do I say about Dan the man?  I say that we are privileged to celebrate Dan the mensch as he marks this special occasion.  May he continue to go from strength to strength.  


Please join us for this celebration at services tomorrow morning at 9:30am.  It is a first time occasion for our congregation and you won't want to miss it.


Finally, I also will have the privilege of naming Donna and Rick Schutz's first grandchild over the weekend in a private family ceremony.  How does one ever express appreciation to a member of a congregational family who at one point and maybe even now, emulates true friendship in the life of one of our children.  Although this is deliberately ambiguous for purposes of confidentiality, I share this thought because I want each of us to know the power and potential of friendship and its ability to make a significant difference in the life of a human being.  I know we will never forget the personal acts of kindness.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Congregation Adat Reyim


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