Gratitude Becomes Us

Gratitude Becomes Us

From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon

In Hebrew, “hakarat ha-tov,” means “recognizing the good.” In Alan Morinis’s book, “Everyday Holiness: the Spiritual Path of Mussar,” he explains, “The good is already there. Practicing gratitude means being fully aware of the good that is already yours” (p.64).

On the High Holy Days, our congregation came to usher in the New Year and to atone. We arrived in the sanctuary or Levit Hall, in person or by livestream, and found beautiful spaces, meaningful worship experiences, and new and familiar friends. The result was a fulfilling and, in some cases, awe-inspiring experience that prepared us for the New Year 5783.

Looking back at what we shared, it isn’t enough to say, “Thank you,” because just saying “Thank you” feels transactional. We did more than exchange experiences and move on. We came to experience, share, and be moved by what is “already ours,” to paraphrase Morinis. I feel deep gratitude for what we have created together at Congregation Beth Israel, and for what we prepared our synagogue to be in the New Year. It’s a place of worship, education, and community, but it’s also a place for healing, friendship, play, and direction. How do we accomplish all of it, together?

My gratitude begins with Richard Kaplan, President, Roslyn Fuchs Haikin, Immediate Past-President, and the Board of Trustees for prioritizing our mission as a congregation. My gratitude continues with Rabbi Adrienne Scott and Cantor Kenneth Feibush for their spiritual leadership and gifts of word and song. If feel gratitude for Mark Vogel, Music Director, and Collin Boothby, Organist; for Rabbi Erin Mason and Loui Dobin for their worship services and music. My gratitude includes our senior staff, Pam Kutner, David Scott, Mike Mason, Marsha Gilbert, Laura Kaplan, and Michael Reddick and his maintenance team, and Mark Eggleston and his production/audio-visual team. My gratitude extends to Kerri Zerlin, Stephanie Shargal, Christian Losche, Theresa Havelka, Michael Kirstein, and Kathy McMahon. Gratitude has no limit for our Houston Police Department officers, Commander Michael Collins, Lt. Ed Valentine, Officer Mike Garcia, and their team, whose courtesy and protection are deeply appreciated.

I am grateful to you, our Temple members and visitors, for your presence in body, mind, and spirit. It was good to see you in-person, to hear from you by email or regular mail, and to know that you’re there by livestream, too. I’m grateful, too, for the memories that fill the places where precious friends used to be.  

As the fall holiday of Sukkot continues, during the time we call, “Z’man Simchateinu,” the season of our joy, please accept my best wishes, with deep gratitude, for an enduring New Year of happiness, good health, and peace.


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