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210http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2014/11/RabbiLyonsBlog-11_14_2014
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 11_14_2014
11/14/2014 12:00 PM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
November 14, 2014

From 1975-1999, Rabbi Samuel E. Karff served Congregation Beth Israel as Senior Rabbi. With extraordinary intellect and pulpit presence, Rabbi Karff led the congregation in many ways, especially through his sermons, or Shabbat Messages, as they were called. As a rabbi who listened from my pulpit seat as he spoke, I can still remember Rabbi Karff’s careful choice of words, the tempo with which he spoke, and the impression he wanted to make on every congregant who came for new understanding and inspiration. Many of you remember, too.

                If you were a regular, then you also remember that every August, when Sam and Joan returned from Charlevoix, Michigan, their summer retreat for many decades, Rabbi Karff’s first sermon was a retelling of their summer, the experiences they shared, and the people they encountered. It was more than a travelogue; it was an invitation to join him where they were. In effect, the friends they knew every summer in Charlevoix became our friends, too. So, every August, we returned to the sanctuary to catch up with them and learn about how they were getting along. In Rabbi Karff’s unique style, he told a story we couldn’t wait to hear and never wanted to end.

                In recent weeks, I learned that Sam and Joan sold their cabin retreat in Charlevoix, Michigan. Though they will return there when they can and stay in a rental home, the transition from those long-awaited days and nights north of Houston’s summer heat means that the years have gone by and some reflection on them is warranted. So, I asked Rabbi Karff if he would speak again from the pulpit to tell us once more about Charlevoix, and to teach us how to make mindful transitions from the way things were to the way they are. He gladly accepted.

                On Friday evening, December 5, 2014, Rabbi Karff will speak on “Transitions: Remembering Charlevoix, Michigan”. On the same evening before services begin, Rabbi Karff will also be happy for you to purchase his new CD, “Words Spoken from My Mind and Soul”. Eight sermons are on the CD including, “Duty or Inspiration”, “Growing Older”, “How Free Are We”, “One Rosh Hashanah Eve”, and “One of My Favorite Teachers”. It’s a magnificent collection, personally chosen by him, and a cherished gift for you and your family.

                Sermons or Shabbat Messages have a lot of competition, today. Without much effort, we find the messages that we want or need on TV, radio and the internet. But, the synagogue pulpit remains a unique and vital source of messages, which are closely tied to the wisdom of the ages and their teachers. Rabbi Karff was and is an exemplar of that place and that purpose. I don’t know any rabbi, today, who doesn’t emulate Rabbi Karff, at least in his or her effort to convey what he or she feels must be conveyed. In his inimitable way, Rabbi Karff made it look effortless. It was and is his gift. It was the essence of his active rabbinate, and we, his congregants and colleagues, looked forward to Shabbat and Rabbi Karff’s words, every week.

                Like you, I look forward to December 5th, not only to hear about Charlevoix, Michigan, but also to learn how, after all these years, he and Joan bid farewell and yet retained the best part of a place they knew so well, and, we, avid listeners, came to cherish, too.


You may contact Rabbi David Lyon here.
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