Saturday, May 30, 2009

An Open Letter to my Friend, Teacher and Rav

I write this open letter with a heavy heart, but also with hearty congratulations to my good friend Elon Sunshine, who has, in the past three years become my teacher, mentor, Rav and friend. Without him having asked if I wanted to live on September 10, 2007, and allowing G-d to hear my answer, I would not be here today to give daily thanks for my second chance at life on Olam haZeh, nor would I be here today to try and bring Torah to others as he has to me.

Dearest Rabbi Sunshine:

When we first met three years ago at a Break the Fast dinner in Scottsdale and shared a table over eggs and OJ, I had a feeling that we would become good friends. Never in my wildest imagination, would I have believed that we would share a journey as we have, and never would I have ever dreamt that we would move separately to similar places, both in life and in career.

I will always cherish our study sessions in your office at HZ, wherein I would come up with what I believed was an important lesson in Torah and your reply was something like "So What? You never thought of that before?" Your level and simple understanding and pure acceptance of Torah and Talmud made me want to work harder, think harder and learn more and more. Especially with you.

I remember one afternoon that you visited me in the hospital during my recuperation from Multi-System Failure and we discussed that past two months that I had missed. You then took out a paper from your pocket and we studied Talmud together. You knew exactly what part of Mishna to bring me; Not too easy, but not too challenging for my half-baked brain.

We have shared many a meal at Scottsdale Kosher and a few more while rushing off to teach at Hebrew High. You have trusted me with your students and I have enjoyed teaching them almost as much as I have enjoyed learning from you.

My fondest memories, though, are your officiating at Tyler's Bar Mitzvah last March, and this past year during the High Holidays. It was not only my distinct pleasure, but an honour to have shared your Pulpit.

I am so very sorry to see you leave Phoenix. It pains me to know that it may be a long time before we share another meal; another joke or another class. And as hard as it was to say goodbye this afternoon, it is even harder to write goodbye tonight. It is indeed difficult when the writer has few words. In truth, there are no words that even begin to thank you for all that you have done these past three years.

It is said that as one closes, others open; For you, a very deserving Congregation awaits in the *San Francisco Bay Area, and for me, my teaching of Torah will continue in Los Angeles. I suppose that an hour flight isn't really that far away.

I know not how to close, other than with words from another writer. One from whom we have all learned a great deal, Bob Dylan:

May God bless and keep you always; May your wishes all come true; May you always do for others, And let others do for you; May you build a ladder to the stars, And climb on every rung; May you stay forever young.

Elon, I thank you from the very bottom of my heart. I will miss seeing you in Shul and will love you always.

Ahavah u'Vrachot


*Rabbi Elon Sunshine has been blessed with the task of serving Congregation B'nai Shalom in Walnut Creek, California. If you are ever in the area, be sure to look him up.

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