Student Rabbi Jonathan Falco bids farewell to ‘community of longtime friends’

By Student Rabbi Jonathan Falco

We presently find ourselves in a period where we are literally counting the days until our next holiday.

Jews are always looking ahead, planning for the next occasion where the pulse of our calendar year brings us together in joyous or somber moments.

During these intervening days between Passover and Shavuot, we are commanded to count the omer of 49 days.

This is a wondrous time of rebirth — the rebirth of spring both here and in the Land of Israel.

We do this with anticipation and excitement. This is a wondrous time of rebirth — the rebirth of spring both here and in the Land of Israel.

We excitedly and anxiously count the days until the anniversary of the moment our ancestors encountered the Divine, receiving God’s holy words of Torah.

We all count time. We count it in different ways, and we count it for different reasons: candles on a birthday cake, days until graduation, hours in the car on a road trip.

A year of contemplative drives across the countryside

We recite this blessing on finishing a tractate of Talmud.

I’ve counted my year in monthly visits, trips to the “Enterprise” in Cincinnati and drives across the beautiful Indiana countryside.

On each progressive visit, I have felt as though I come to greet and serve a community of longtime friends. Together, we have prayed, wrestled with our ancient texts and created our own commentaries on the commentaries.

I’ve learned with your children in religious school, and together we have grown. For all throughout this past year, I am most grateful.

On each progressive visit, I have felt as though I come to greet and serve a community of longtime friends.

When we finish a tractate of Talmud, we recite the following blessing in Hebrew:

We will return to you … and you will return to us; our mind is on you, … and your mind is on us; we will not forget you … and you will not forget us — not in this world and not in the next world.

We are commanded to circle back

We say goodbye to a tractate of Talmud and we know that it is only a goodbye for now. Our sacred texts are not meant to sit on bookshelves collecting dust once they are finished; we are commanded to circle back to the wisdom they contain, again and again.

So too, with our sacred relationships, or chevrutot, our learning partners. When the time must come to say goodbye to sacred partners in learning, we say goodbye, really saying, we’ll see you again.

I hope you all have a wonderful summer. Please know that I am always here and will treasure the relationships and experiences by which I have been blessed throughout this experience.

L’Shalom,

Jonathan

Student Rabbi Jonathan Falco completes his service to United Hebrew Congregation with the conclusion of the 2018-19 academic year.

Hadran excerpt courtesy of The Sefaria Library.

Photos

Student Rabbi Jonathan Falco conducted Shabbat services and presided over the Kiddush and Hamotzi as congregants lingered for an oneg Shabbat on April 12 at UHC.

Susan helped interpret the Latin inscription on Bruce’s tie and Herschel filled Passover shopping orders.