Invest in yourself.

Be Constantly Curious.

Set your own table and invite them to join you.

Invest in Yourself

One of the best courses I had in high school was called practical economics. I still remember this lesson: Pay yourself first. Invest in your future savings before paying your immediate bills. Don’t say you’ll put money in savings when you have a chance. You’ll never have a chance.

What’s true in personal finance is true in time, perhaps even more so. Pay yourself first. Invest in yourself. We should always have something we’re doing to improve ourselves professionally: guitar, piano, writing, composing, text study. We should never, ever neglect our voices!

Invest in yourself. In this rapidly changing world, we never know what skill we’ll need that we don’t yet have. For most of us, resting on our laurels is never genug, never enough. Dayenu is for the seder, a reminder to be grateful for what we have. It’s never an excuse for deciding we’re fine as is. We can and should always be busy improving our skills.

Be Constantly Curious

Someone once asked me what I do for fun that’s not professional. The truth is almost anything I do, even for fun, finds its way into my professional life. It might inspire a d’var torah or affect how I interpret a prayer, how I teach a class, create a program, or include a song or story in a concert. Theatre, movies, TV shows, books (fiction and non-fiction), museums, concerts.  They all show me places I couldn’t have gone, reveal ideas I wouldn’t have found without them.

My advice to you — be curious about a lot of things. At its best, Judaism assimilates the most compelling cultural expressions of whatever we find wherever we live I don’t have to tell you, we’ve lived in a lot of places. Let that feed your creative life. You and your communities will be enriched.

Set your own table and invite others to join you

We are often dismayed when our fellow rabbinic clergy and Jewish organizations don’t include us. Sometimes these complaints are justified and, as your president, I will do what I can to correct those unfair exclusions. But I have to say my gut reaction is always the same and I’ve said it before in other fora:

Don’t whine when they don’t invite you to sit at the table: set your own table and invite them to sit at yours!

You are creative. You are innovative. You are collaborative. CA members have formed ensembles, produced publications, developed curricula, created inter-faith programs, led missions to Poland, Germany, Spain and, soon, to Italy.

Respond to exclusion with Yozma, with Initiative. Balaam, in his reluctant God-trance says that a Star will step forth out of Jacob. Some have interpreted his statement as a prophecy for the coming of the Messiah. I see it as both prediction and permission to step forth with our light, the gilded sounds and steygers we have to share, to teach, with which to inspire.

Because every Jewish soul has a voice. And we are tasked with caring for those souls, nurturing their sounds, inspiring their neshamot.

?אם לא עכשיו אימתי

David Lipp