Beginnings

By: Rabbi Mel Gottlieb

Welcome to our new website!

As we begin our new year, returning to our home at UCLA Hillel, we have much to be grateful for. As I sit here the first day, I ponder the two contradictory maxims that keeps popping through my head, “You Can’t Go Home Again,” and the other, “All Life is a Return Home.” Yes, it is complicated, I am complicated, life is complicated; so what does all this mean to me, especially at this our season of Return and Renewal!

It is indeed true that I have returned home! However, the time has changed, I have changed, the students have changed. I must remember this and not cling to the old. The new is here and it is good. So I am renewed by my return. And I can go home again, to a ‘new’ home! What do I ‘Choose’ to remember from the past at this home? I am filled with many beautiful memories, and some unpleasant ones. I will choose to remember the beautiful memories of amazing encounters with students and the entire community, and choose to learn where I faltered and can improve. This too is a gift; life is really a learning experience, and a ‘return home’, wiser and more experienced through our journey away from home is a blessing; so indeed, we are really enriched and filled with gratitude for the journey. And each of us can be truly renewed at this time of the year, if we take the time to reflect and acknowledge all that we have been through this year and that G-d’s blessings have always been surrounding us and are always there to be embraced.

At this particular time, in our lives we must ALSO acknowledge that it is a time where many of our brothers and sisters are facing tragedy and pain, in Houston and throughout the world. It makes me recall the verses in Isaiah:43,

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
When you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
And the flame shall not consume you
For I am the Lord your G-d.”

I have been so touched by the ‘Resilience’ of our fellow brothers and sisters, who have risked their lives to save others, to provided comfort and healing, to provide shelter, food, and singing, sailing boats into danger zones to save others. How blessed to be witness to the resilient capacity and goodness of all our flock. And yes, it strengthens my faith, that through all the darkness, fear and hatred, throughout all the terror and dread the redeeming thread is to ‘find the love.’ Love does overcome tragedy and pain, even clinging to that small thread, will lead to a magnificent tapestry where we all come together and Remember that we are all G-d’s children and welcomed home!

We hope to see you on our new, changed, welcoming campus this Fall!

One thought on “Beginnings

  1. So inspired going into Shabbat with your teachings, Rabbi Mel! Welcome to all of you — to a new year, a new place, a new opportunity for growth and learning.

    Ki Tavo — when you enter this place bring something that expresses your gratitude. Bikkurim — first fruits. May each of us bring something sweet and unique to share, and know that each is valued and necessary.

    Shabbat Shalom!

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