To the membership of Congregation Beth Shalom:
I am honored to step forward into the position of Rabbi at your esteemed congregation, and my family and I are very excited about our transition to Pittsburgh and the opportunities for building community and crafting a progressive vision which await us there.
At the outset, I would like to state that my primary goal in the first years of my time with you is to build trust. The bond between rabbi and congregation is infused with holiness and faith. It is my mission to welcome, engage, teach, guide, learn, counsel, comfort, and generally be there for all of you and for the wider Pittsburgh community to the best of my ability. To that end, I commit myself to do all of the things that congregations generally expect a rabbi to do.
I would like to add that the rabbinate is not merely a checklist of items; it can be neither contained in a spreadsheet nor defined with the digital precision of the ones and zeros that constitute the Information Age.
Rather, the rabbinate is an art, and the rabbi is an artist who has the tools with which to fashion a communal vision. And a rabbi needs a metaphorically spacious studio, a comfortable, flexible environment in which to make that canvas come alive with energy and vision and warmth.
I need you to trust that as your rabbi, I will allocate my time and physical presence appropriately, in a way that will not only satisfy your day-to-day expectations for the position, but will also leave studio space in which to re-envision and re-energize this community. And similarly, I will trust you to be my partners in this shared journey.
As such, please remember the following lesson from Pirqei Avot (2:21):
לא עליך המלאכה לגמור, ולא אתה בן חורין ליבטל ממנה.
Lo alekha hamelakhah ligmor, velo atah ben horin libatel mimmenah.
It’s not up to you to finish the task, but neither are you free to desist from it.
As is the case with many of us, a rabbi never gets quite to the bottom of his or her to-do list, and yet I will not desist from the task ahead of us. But I need your partnership, your trust, and your willingness to come along with me for the ride. With that trust and faith, I am certain that we will have many years together in this Divine partnership.
Rabbi Seth Adelson