A Message from RA President Stewart Vogel

Posted on: Thursday March 26, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

While my installation as president, which was supposed to take place this past Monday in Los Angeles was postponed, I was honored to be installed and receive a blessing from Naomi Levy in an informal ceremony prior to a Zoom meeting of our Executive Council [watch the installation here]. This unusual transition of RA leadership is representative of the unprecedented times in which we find ourselves. In truth, it is exactly in a moment like this that rabbis are most needed.

As we celebrate Rosh Hodesh Nissan we are reminded that it marks the beginning of Jewish time as described in the book of Exodus. With the creation of a yearly calendar, time takes on new meaning and the establishment of holidays breaks up that time with celebrations. Why will this night be different from all other nights? Because we, as rabbis, will have to guide our people through different ways of observing the holiday of Passover. We will help our people find new ways of sharing with their families and even new meaning in the ancient holiday. I believe the mitzvah of feeling that we were personally redeemed from the land of Egypt, will be transformed this year into the Israelite experience of anticipated freedom. Families will plug into the anxiety and uncertainty that our ancestors felt in Egypt as they placed the blood on their doorposts.

We, as rabbis, must help our people see the potential redemption. We must help them find the afikomen, the bread of redemption, at the very moment when all they can only focus on is the lechem oni. At the very moment that visitors cannot come into their home, we must help them see that Elijah can still enter with the hope and anticipation of a better tomorrow.

Our people need rabbis now more than ever. Let us provide the leadership, wisdom and Torah that is needed to get through these dark times - "la'yehudim hayta ora" - let us be that light. I am proud to be the new president of an organization working so hard to help rabbis fulfill their sacred vocation.

Hazak v'amatz - Wishing you the strength and courage... and health.

-Stewart Vogel