Dear Congregant:

How can I find the words to share with you my message tonight? In May 2000 I said "Shalom" to Temple B'nai Chaim. To my eager hello you all responded with an enthusiastic welcome to me and my little kindergartener. Now 13 years later, as Eliana prepares to head off to college, once again it is time for me to say "Shalom" as I too make plans to transition.

A couple of months ago I told our president that I had been presented with a rare opportunity to toss my name into the ring of a national search.  It was a long shot but I just wanted to keep him informed. David, to his credit, smiled graciously and sagely predicted the future.

It is with a heart full of emotion – of nostalgia and sadness, of excitement and anticipation – that I share with you that I have been selected as the Executive Director and Senior Jewish Chaplain of the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale University.  I will begin my new position in the middle of this July.

As we enter this period of transition there will be many questions and I am sure some concerns.  Change always comes with its uncertainties. But of this I am certain – the blessing of Shalom is our way forward.  With strong temple leadership, expert guidance and support from the URJ, the nearly quarter of a century of experience that Cantor Jon Sobel brings to this congregation and everyone's sincere intentions and efforts, shalom – a sense of calmness, and caring can guide us on our path forward.

When I arrived at Temple B'nai Chaim I was 38 years old; now at 51, I cannot help but reflect on another aspect of "shalom".  The word "shalom" comes from the root "shalem" which means "full or complete." It has truly been an honor to serve TBC and move the congregation forward.  My hope and prayer is that you all will build upon this legacy in ways that grow and develop this community even further.

Please join us on Thursday, May 23 at 7:30pm for our Semi-Annual Congregational Meeting where we will have the opportunity to talk further.

Shalom,

Rabbi Leah Cohen
May 21, 2013