It feels incomprehensible to be able to continue with community life without Fahni Pierce, our beloved member who taught not just Hebrew but partnership with the Kadosh Baruch Hu.
That she modeled living each day joyously, lovingly, and optimistically given the conditions under which she lived is also incomprehensible, seemingly impossible, yet that is what she did.
Her presence was in everything that involved mitzvah, caring, compassion, celebration and making special times come alive.
On one hand it feels impossible to go on without her in the efforts to maintain and retain the unique spirit and character of CBI. On the other hand, we can take heart in a reality that we may not properly appreciate: no one…not even Fahni…could do what she did without partners in that effort. The tradition reminds us that the key to Jewish continuity and wellbeing does not reside in any one person. 9 rabbis (i.e. 9 Fahnis [if such were possible]) are not enough to make a minyan, a Jewish community quorum. Fahni’s love and gifts were generated in a context that allowed and enabled her to be the unique partner to God and to Life that she was.
I have suggested over the years that there is something special about the people that comprise B’nai Israel, characterized by minimal bad talk and an abundance of caring and sensitivity manifested in far more than a minyan of members.
Yet, when you lose someone that is at the heart and soul of such a unique quorum, each member of the community must do more than take note and stock of the loss.
We have an opportunity, with the fullness of imagination and trust by which Fahni lived, to keep her with us in ways we reflect and act upon our own particular gifts and talents to contribute with greater focus and zeal on moving forward with her in a different way.
Whenever you have a choice to help or not, to give or not, to appreciate or not, to say yes or not, to trust or not, to nurture or not…let Fahni help you with the decision and you will make the right choice.
The community outpouring of love for her and her family…the energy she has already generated through us as we stop to confront our physical loss…is a starting point of moving forward in ways still hard to imagine.
As this April bulletin comes out, we are in the process of leaving Mitzrayim, the “narrow constriction” (in Hebrew) that characterizes “Egypt” (we will gather on Tuesday, April 2 at 10 AM for the last day and Yizkor). Fahni taught in the way she lived that rituals such as Passover are rich not only in the customs observed but in the values lived. This holiday is much more than a ceremonial recall of the start of the Jewish people in a new relationship with a Power…the Kadosh Baruch Hu…until that time unknown and not present in the consciousness of humanity. It was left to this fledgling people to bring God’s Presence to Light in the world.
As hard as it is to leave Mitzrayim this year, even as the Israelites carried the bones of Joseph with them as they left, so do we carry Fahni with us, and with her help, will continue to celebrate and elevate life…as we look to celebrate her publicly with community sharing on April 14 and then with her spirit and vibrancy dedicating our celebration of her beloved Israel with Israel Independence Day celebration on April 21.
And, so we will move along without her physical presence but energized by her spirit, more than ever, as we dedicate CBI community life to the spirit she brought into our lives. We will honor her by bringing blessings into as many lives and moments as we can with whatever time we are blessed by the Almighty.
God be with us as we move forward and continue to grow the kind of community that could allow Fahni to be who she was and live life with the joy and passion that allowed her to see only good in spite of obstacles that seemed impossible to allow such a spirit to shine through.
If she could live as she did with so many reasons not to, then what obstacles do we face that would keep us from keeping her alive and with us as we move forward to honor God’s Presence in the ways we bring light and blessing into the lives of one another…and the world beyond?