If you asked the kids in our Religious School what I did during my sabbatical, they would tell you that I ate a lot of ice cream. This past Sunday was my first day back at Temple and I often like to tell a story during our morning T’filah. Having been away for three months, how do I convey to the students something about what I experienced during my sabbatical? I settled on a topic that I thought even the youngest children could relate to: ice cream.
It’s a true story. One day during my sabbatical, I was in the small town of Arroyo Grande. Eve and I were taking a few days late December to vacation. It was late afternoon on a Tuesday. We were looking for a snack when we walked into Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab. Upon entering I immediately spotted a sign proclaiming something I have never seen anywhere else.
On Tuesdays only, at Doc Burnstein’s, from 5:00pm until closing, for the low price of $6.10, you could eat all the ice cream you want!! I got the biggest smile on my face. How could I turn down such an offer? Eve declined to partake, so I did my best to make-up for the two of us.
If you were to ask how many scoops I ate that Tuesday, I couldn’t really tell you. I’m only glad that Doc Burnstein’s provided wheelbarrows so Eve could roll me out of the establishment when I finished. (The last sentence is what is known as a “rabbinic embellishment.” It’s not exactly a lie. But it’s not a fact either.)
I think the kids enjoyed my story about the All-You-Can-Eat Ice Cream. But I only realized much later that there was no deeper meaning to the story. There were no Jewish values conveyed. Nor were any lessons from Jewish tradition communicated. I guess coming out of my sabbatical, I was a little rusty.
But I do want you to know that besides having a great time eating ice cream, I had many other wonderful experiences during my sabbatical. There were also times of reflection about deeper issues in life. Some of these moments occurred as a result of the places I traveled; especially in Poland and Germany. Sometime moments of insight happened quite spontaneously.
I am grateful to everyone at Temple Beth Torah for affording me the opportunity to be on sabbatical the past three months. I especially want to thank Jill and Rabbi Eve who kept everything in order at Temple; Michelle Eisenbruck, along with the other volunteers, who led services during my absence; and Susan Schwartz for her attention to congregational concerns during my absence.
At another time I will share more fully about my journey abroad. In the mean time, it’s good to be back and I hope to see you soon.