I decided to join PTS when my son, Audie, was in preschool. My husband is not Jewish, and as Audie started to grow up I realized I wanted a Jewish home base — a place where I could bring my son and myself for Jewish holidays, and a place to be part of a Jewish community. It was a little daunting trying to figure out how to get started. Audie goes to Wornick, but doesn’t go to religious school here, and I didn’t know anyone who was a member of PTS. And yet, I just kept finding kind people who extended a hand of friendship, and who then introduced me to other kind people, and somehow, slowly, with every step I took into this community, I kept finding new friends. All these years later, I’ve yet to show up for anything at this synagogue where a kind person hasn’t made themselves known to me.
A few years ago, one of my very best friends was in the final stages of her 13-year battle with cancer. She lived in Canada and I flew back and forth every other week or so to be with her and to care for her. By the end, I found myself in way over my head. I was grief-stricken and struggling. Rabbi Feder walked with me through every step of the process. I called him, often, with questions ranging from ‘how do I hold onto peace and grief at the same time?’ to ‘should book a ticket to go this week or wait until next week?’. He answered every call, with patience and grace and compassion, and saw me through that terribly sad time. I am forever grateful to him, and by extension to this entire community, for that much needed help, and for really establishing PTS as a home and a haven for me.
The older I get, the more I find that the greatest gift I receive is to really be seen and heard – to really be known, and likewise that is the gift I wish to extend to those around me – to see you and to know you. It is a comfort to be recognized, and an instant community builder. I believe in the power of community, and in the joy of building it. So I would like to take a minute right now to say a real and earnest hello to those of you I haven’t met yet. I hope we’ll get a chance to connect either today or next time our paths cross.
I love this community and want to give back to it by continuing to build it. I believe in PTS as my Jewish home base, and it is my gift to be able to thank you all for that.