Seeing all these candidates for our second rabbi position reminds me that I am retiring in a few months. I promised not to make a big deal about the retirement, and I think I have kept the promise on my end. But it’s time for a retirement update, focused on the weekday that will be most affected by my change of status.
Wednesday, I tell you a little secret, is not only the middle of the week but has been my favorite day of the week since I became senior rabbi. It’s It’s Wednesday day, it’s my Parsha Study Group day, it’s Bendit/Scolnic teaching day, and all are critical to my work besides giving me great pleasure. I am hoping to give each of them a proper farewell as my fulltime work ends.
Working backwards, my Scolnic Institute class this spring (starts next Wednesday) is a kind of summary statement about my bible teaching over the years. Each week I will be sharing a Bible tale that most fascinates me, and why – which may be a window into the way I think in case that interests you in the slightest. I am not giving away any secrets, but trial by ordeal is a clue to one of my favorites.
My Parsha Study group, second, is a three year 90 minute Wednesday morning encounter with the Torah portion (Parashah) of the week. It is fifteen students per cohort, a new cohort every three years. I take attendance. We learn a lot, laugh a lot, and get to know the Torah well and each other much too well. My fifth group is finishing up now, and on May 6th they will be joined by members of the other four cohorts for a reunion. There will be a nice breakfast, like the first cohort always had, Torah study, and the final awards roast. I cannot verbalize how wonderful this part of my work has been, or how much it centers me/my week in Torah and how it helps prepare me for Shabbat teaching and preaching. May 6th is a chance to thank my students for this great gift.
It’s Wednesday, finally, will now morph. The column happened by accident, as do many good ideas. Next week I will share its genesis – in one Bat Mitzvah charge about gossip that was given ten years ago almost to the day. We began talking together on that topic and, once it was exhausted, moved to other themes and ultimately to whatever was on my mind the Monday that I started working on the column for that week. A lot of people speak to me about the columns, which have become my major impact point for many congregants not to mention their relatives to whom they send it.
It’s Wednesday will be winding down in a special way and will end in late May. For the next approximately ten weeks I will be sharing, in Lederman style, my favorite It’s Wednesday postings, minus the first two years which are nowhere to be found on any hard drive that I or the shul owns anymore. (If perchance you have any of those saved emails from 2005-2007, I would be so grateful – they were to figure in writing I plan to do in the future.) Maybe someday I will do a blog, but the appropriate time for that is not now.
Get ready for the top ten, and have a great Wednesday, my favorite weekday. Bill Rudolph
P.S. Good Deeds Day is Sunday, Scolnic Institute classes start Tuesday/ Wednesday. Detail on the listserv yesterday and on our website www.bethelmc.org.