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Daniel Zemel, Senior Rabbi, Temple Micah
"If it's not broken break it!" That is the motto I try and live by as a rabbi, thinking as I do that much of the model of what counts for Jewish life in America is broken but too much of the establishment doesn't realize it.
I have been Micah's rabbi since 1983 and am delighted to say that the congregation, on the whole, has taken to embracing this motto also -- what they don't embrace, they at least tolerate?so I find that I love Micah and the feeling is, I think, mutual.
Since 1983, the congregation has grown in every way -- but it is the intangibles of growth, spiritual and religious that are most important: We seek to be good citizens in the nation's capital through our sponsorship of Micah House, a group home for formerly homeless women in recovery from addiction as well as many other good deed projects in the community. Our Shabbat worship is renowned for its energy and creativity. Our approach to Jewish education is groundbreaking. I like Micah because we are a restless place and do honor to my motto.
I view my primary role as the senior rabbi at Micah to be a cultural translator -- grappling with the challenge of "translating" our inherited Judaism into a theology and practice that speaks to our place and time. As I said, I love Temple Micah -- especially the people that "get" what we are about, such as one friend who describes us as "a smart, messy place with a soul." I find all three of those designations uplifting. After all, everything that is hard is messy.
I am blessed with a loving family that is the center of my life. When I am not at Micah, I am either with my family, home reading, studying and thinking or dreaming of my beloved Chicago White Sox playing in the World Series.