Temple of the Islands
Rabbi Fuchs Reflects
It was a very quiet Thanksgiving for Vickie and me. In contrast to the boisterous full family gatherings and those with Rabbi Stephen Fuchs' friends in other years, it was just the two of us together.
But that was perfect for this year. Because her cancer treatments compromise her immune system, it would be unwise for us to be together with others at an indoor gathering at this time. That is the reason Vickie has not yet joined us in person for Bat Yam worship.
Still, it was a very special time for the two of us because we have so much to be thankful for. Vickie’s latest PET scan showed a full response to treatment. We could not have hoped for a better response.
There are still two more chemo infusions and many tests ahead of us, so we do not consider the battle won and won’t for some time. Nevertheless, we rejoice in the successful way she has battled her disease to this point. I am filled with admiration at her courage and determination.
It was a joy for me to be her sous chef, peeling and washing and helping her prepare a special Thanksgiving dinner for two. As we enjoyed our meal together, we had ample opportunity to reflect on the many blessings in our lives. Among them:
Vickie's wonderful progress on her journey back to full health.
Our three children, each of whom has taken time away from his/her busy life to spend important time helping us out here in Florida.
The love we share with our children’s spouses and our nine grandchildren ·The pulpit partnership I have shared with Cantor Murray Simon these past five years. This past Yom Kippur with Cantor Murray and Toby Simon offering us their home as a Zoom worship site, with Toby accompanying the Cantor in his final service before retirement, was an inspiringly beautiful way to bring their work for Bat Yam to its conclusion. Our wonderful Bat Yam community that has been so caring and supportive of us during this difficult time.
The determination of Bat Yam to stay together despite the ravages of Hurricane Ian.
In the five plus years I have served as your Rabbi, Bat Yam has endured two hurricanes, a leadership crisis, the pandemic, and the reality that these things have kept some of our members from returning to the Island.
We are so grateful for our outstanding lay leaders who have enabled us to
navigate these challenges successfully.
The ruach (spiritual energy) and joy that our new Cantor, Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer and his wife Yaffah bring to our community.
The fact that – though it will take many months – our Sanibel home is repairable and that we can look forward to returning to live on the island.
For all these reasons, I am very excited as Chanukah approaches. I have tried to point out over the years that the miracle of Chanukah is not about a “cruse of oil that lasted for eight days”. Rather it is about the determination of committed Jews to remain loyal to our tradition in the face of formidable forces that sought to destroy us.
This Chanukah, in the year 5783, by its commitment and will, Bat Yam is writing the tale of a modern Chanukah miracle. Despite the challenges I mentioned above, we have persevered, we have endured and with God’s help we will thrive … now and for many years to come.
Vickie and I wish each of you joy at Chanukah and good health and great fulfillment in 2023.