[Remarks offered by Rabbi Lieberman at the celebration of his 25th anniversary with FJC, Aug. 8, 2015]

Friends….I am at this moment, as they say in Mamaloshen (Yiddish), farklempt….”unable to speak because of emotion; choked up.” But speak I must, and speak I will, because moments such as these are incredibly precious and rare.

First, I have words of appreciation for my family, without whose love and support the past 25 years would have been devoid of meaning and purpose. Before we met, Lori had a great deal of experience working with rabbinic students from her work in the library at Hebrew Union College. She married me anyway. Ben and Anna have endured, with grace and aplomb, the challenges of being an “RK”–a “rabbi’s kid”. My beloved brothers, Victor and Marc, are here, respectively, from Ann Arbor and San Francisco, making my personal celebration complete.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone whose efforts made this evening’s celebration such a beautiful success. Dozens of people contributed their time, energy, resources and talents to this and were guided to their goal by the indefatigable Sam Slarskey who headed up a team that included, Barry Balan, Scott Barron, Serena Boronkay, Barbara Brandt-Saret, Ellen Hewett, Ted Jellinek, Tee Marvin, Pamela Rothstein, Lynne Rozsa, Myrna Schultz, Bob Smith, Ellen Yaffe and Donna Zeger, many of whom was assisted by many others.

Our hard-working and devoted temple staff–Betty Klotz, Steven Pearson, Steve Swain and George Cary–gave above and beyond to help make all of this possible. My friend Bart Weisman and his talented musical friends set the perfect freylich (joyous) tone for this celebration. Carol McLeod’s beautiful design work graced the invitations and this evening’s program.

I have been deeply moved by all of the contributions made to our Endowment Fund in honor of this milestone. Nothing gives me deeper satisfaction than the knowledge that we will have the financial resources we need to maintain the vibrancy of this congregation long into the future.

I offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone gathered beneath these tents this evening, as well as those who unable to be present. You helped create an event that reflects the very best of the wonderful community we call Falmouth Jewish Congregation!

So…..what have the past twenty-five years produced? Friends, as Kai Ryssdal, host of NPR’s Marketplace, says, “Let’s do the numbers!”

• 211   The number of b’nei mitzvah students with whom I have worked.

• 119   The number of weddings at which I have officiated.

• 233   The number of funerals I have performed.

• 102   The number of babies & children on whom I have bestowed Hebrew names.

• 52   The number of people I have been privileged to accompany on the path of conversion to Judaism.

• 16   The number of years I have been privileged to work with Pamela Rothstein, my brilliant and talented friend and colleague.

• 300   The number of FJC Newsletter columns I have written.

• 10+   The number of guitars and ukuleles I have acquired. (I can still only play one at a time, however.)

• 9   The number of FJC Presidents with whom I have collaborated and from whom I have learned much.

• 9,164   The number of days I have awakened grateful to be serving as rabbi of this community

• 182,600   A conservative figure for the number of laughs I’ve enjoyed since I began working here on July 1, 1990.

• Far too many to count……

-the number of sacred encounters I was privileged to experience as my work afforded me entry into the most joyous and the most challenging moments in the lives of so many people;

-the times I disappointed you, or myself–or both at the same time;

-the important lessons I have learned from you and from my work;

-the moments of satisfaction gained from representing Falmouth Jewish Congregation in the broader community for causes rooted in the finest of Jewish values and those dear to my own heart;

At Boomer Shabbat last month, Pamela Rothstein sang that beautiful song by the late Sandy Denny, Who Knows Where the Time Goes? It’s a fitting question tonight. Who knows where the past two-and-a-half-decades have gone? I know the answer. These past twenty-five years have entered my heart and my soul. They are an integral part of who I am as a rabbi and as a person.

I thank you for the sacred privilege you’ve given me and I look forward to the challenges and joys yet to come.

Reb Elias