Change and Providence

“The sun rises and the sun sets…” (Ecclesiastes 1:5)
“R. Berechyah said in the name of R. Abba bar Kahana, ‘Really! Don’t we know that the sun rises and the sun sets?!
“But the sense of this verse is: Before the sun of a certain righteous person sets, the sun of another righteous person rises…Before the sun of Sarah set, the sun of Rebecca dawned. And so it is in every generation: The sun rises and the sun sets.’” (Ecclesiastes Rabba 1:10)

The classic midrashic commentary, Etz Yoseph, explains that this is all an expression of Divine Providence; that despite the constant changes that go on in the world, this is one way in which God sees to our well-being.

Our synagogue has recently experienced a major transition. Last Fall, Carolyn Metz announced her retirement from the position of Executive Director as of the end of December, 2015. I still remember my personal sense of dismay when I received her letter informing me of her intentions. In many ways Carolyn has served as a mentor to me as I assumed the position of rabbi to Congregation Beth Ami a little over three years ago. We had many conversations about the need for our congregation to take an active role in in our community and in the lives of our members, and just how that might be accomplished.
Carolyn was the point person in the monumental challenge of re-envisioning the role of our Beth Ami Community Nursery School and, with her close friend Barbara Tomin, helped bring this complicated project to a successful conclusion.
It was Carolyn who read about the program Guess who’s coming to Shabbat Dinner! and decided that we could reinvigorate our synagogue membership’s Shabbat experience through this.

Again it was Carolyn and BT who worked together to come up with the idea of our Beth Ami Sustainers and find a way for our synagogue to finance the newly created position Director of Youth Activities as well as other important projects.
We all know that it’s one thing to have a great idea; it’s a whole other matter implementing that idea and making it a successful reality. The secret of Carolyn’s success is that, over the course of decades, and in the various roles she has played in serving our Santa Rosa and Sonoma County Jewish community, she has developed deep and lasting friendships. She has been able to share her enthusiasm and her ideas with those friends. In this way they have all worked as a wonderful team in making dreams a reality. This has gone well beyond the responsibilities of a synagogue executive director and we have all been the beneficiaries.

I look forward to working with Carolyn in her role as a regular member of Beth Ami, and pray that she will gain much naches from the additional time she will have to enjoy her family and friends. I know that we will continue to be blessed by her presence and the active role she plays in our Sonoma County Jewish Community.

Our Search Committee, under the able chairmanship of Myrna Morse, had an awesome task in finding Carolyn’s successor. To say that Myrna put together a hard-working and multi-talented committee would be an understatement.
Over the course of just a few months they achieved what many might have thought was an impossible task!
As a result of their combined efforts, we are delighted to announce the appointment of Leah Frost as our new E.D. Leah’s background includes a relationship with our Beth Ami during the course of her childhood. She has had extensive experience in the various tasks of administration, from scheduling to writing handbooks. She has had first-hand opportunity to work with customers, clients and service providers and, as of late, she serves the congregation in Davis as the assistant to their executive director.
We have all been charmed by Leah’s talent, warmth and sincerity and her clear abilities as a people person. She expresses a deep love of Judaism and K’lal Yisrael, as well as a compassionate concern for her fellow human beings. As leaders of the congregation, our president, Laura Alexander (who played an active role on our search committee), along with our Board and our Committee Chairs are all delighted to welcome Leah and her mother to our community and our synagogue family.
I look forward with confidence and great anticipation to working with Leah in continuing the important work that Carolyn and others have accomplished, in leading Congregation Beth Ami into the future.

“The sun rises and the sun sets…”
May this transition indeed be an expression of God’s Divine Providence!

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