March 1st will mark the completion of my second year as rabbi and spiritual leader of the Aquarian Minyan. During these past two years I have come to know many of you in a variety of ways—as fellow lovers of G~d and fellow students of Torah, as celebrators and grievers, as singers and dancers and drummers, as holy helpers and, sometimes, as holy opponents. In all these ways, you are my teachers.
I have found among you a place of good hearts, strong minds, singing souls. And, I have been honored to witness and help hold the wounded places, the places of recoil and unconsciousness. Together we have progressed. We have grown. We have uncovered pieces of truth.
For the past fifteen months, I have worked for you without a contract. I am deeply grateful that, even without a signed contract, the Minyan has faithfully and promptly delivered my compensation, in the amount stipulated in the unsigned contract, on the 20th of each month (thank you Abigail Grafton, Shoshana Dembitz, Barry Barkan, the whole fundraising team, all paid members and donors!). The Minyan has always had an abundance of talented spiritual leaders who co-create our services and ritual events, but I want to state publicly how particularly grateful I am, to the whole Council, for all of your work on behalf of the community.
I am also immensely grateful for those who have stepped into new administrative responsibilities during these past months—for Shoshana, and now Neal Cronin, who, along with Shauna Rabinowitz, maintain the “face” of the Minyan, through the excellent e-mail Update, and by keeping the website current; and for Lea Delson, who has built upon the foundations laid by Naomi Rose and Abigail to develop a truly marvelous author series. A big thank you goes to Don Adams and Jackie Forrester for rectifying the books, and setting up a viable accounting system. Many thanks to Shoshana for handling so many of the programming details, and for serving as liaison with the JCC. And, I am in awe of those members of the community who quietly, without fanfare, offer their helping, loving hands on a daily basis to those among us who are suffering, ill, and lonely. You are truly the hidden tzaddikim.
Even with all this growth and good will, my contract has not been signed. Although I submitted a revised brit for the Council’s consideration several months ago, the truth is that this year, it is I who am holding back from committing to a contractual relationship, in part, because I do not see how the Minyan can fulfill its terms, and, in part, because I don’t feel myself able to do so.
Friends, we have been living beyond our means. Without an administrative director to hold the Minyan’s center, many of us have been holding pieces of a whole that no one is overseeing. Without a solid funding base, we are constantly scrambling to meet the current month’s budget. And, without a full-on volunteer force—a critical mass of members who, to paraphrase our new President, ask not only what are our rights, but rather what are our obligations, our responsibilities, as members—our current level of programming is a recipe for burn out.
For reasons of health and general burn-out, Abigail and Shoshana have needed to step back from being the Minyan’s de facto “organizational hub.” Others have picked up some of the pieces, while other pieces have fallen by the wayside. As more of these loose ends have fallen to me, I’ve been less and less able to contain my administrative work on behalf of the Minyan—meetings, e-mails, phone calls, and correspondence—and consequently have had less time and energy for rabbinic work. And, because my Minyan work has burgeoned far beyond the stipulated 50% freelance position I signed on for, I’m constantly feeling the pressure to take on other income-producing work, while having less and less time and capacity to generate and perform it.
And so, my dear friends, I’m feeling the need to step back, to take a breather and regroup. I need space and time to understand if and how I might serve the Minyan in the future, and I believe that the Council and members of the community could benefit from a break as well. I will fulfill my Minyan commitments through the end of February. I will then take the month of March off. During that month I plan to take quiet time, to consult my inner guidance, and to become clearer about what I can give, and what I would need from the community in order to provide service, in a balanced, self-loving way. I then plan to make a proposal to the community.
I feel sure that during my absence, others in the Minyan will step forward to keep things running smoothly. I hope that this can also be a time for organizational reflection, a time to think creatively about the future. I urge the community to think about what you have, what you wish to preserve and build on, and how best to ground and support those gifts.
As President Obama is teaching us, this is not a moment for pride or clinging to parochial loyalties, but a time to unite in service of the world we want and need to re-create. This radical, integral approach to politics and government, based on global commitment and participation, rather than territoriality and competition, is surely a model for reawakening our enthusiasm and making best use of resources in all realms of endeavor. Despite the Minyan’s ecstatic bent, it is surely time for some good, down-home pragmatism.
I know the Council is currently considering options for creating more support for the community, and for hiring an administrative coordinator. My strong hope is that the community can come to more clarity about the level and quality of activity and the size of budget it wants and is able to maintain, and about how to generate support for these things. I will be working on the same issues for myself. I bless us all in our goings and our comings. May we be protected, loved, supported, and illuminated by the light of holiness. May the hidden light emerge more and more fully into our awareness and guide us. May we reach toward Truth with pure hearts and open minds. May our hope and faith lead us to work toward bringing through the good in each moment, each action, and each intention. May we each be held, and hold one another, in love.
With love and blessing,
We love Rabbi Diane. We understand that our rebbe has provided us with loving tachlis/practical and spiritual support. And we're committed to creating community that gives her the same support. We've begun by hiring Marcia Brooks as administrative coordinator, and we're currently conducting fundraising, member recruitment, and volunteer recruitment. We'll contact you shortly to ask for your help. We value each one of you as a partner in creating and supporting our loving community.
Barry Barkan and Abigail Grafton, Co-Shomrim