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From  the Rabbi's Desk       

Dear Friends,

It is often said “Kol Haschalos Kashos” All beginnings are difficult. I remember hearing that time and again soon after my wife and I were married 25 years ago.  This is true on an individual level, even more-so  for a community or a shul.  Bais Yitchok has a rich history. It has been an integral part of the Chicago community for 100 years. I am not aware of anyone living who was at the dedication ceremony of Beth Itzchok.  Yet,  those who were at the first ground breaking ceremony live on as the shul is Baruch Hashem still here. It has moved numerous times. There have been numerous rabbanim who have led this wonderful shul.  Many changes have taken place. It’s an old shul.  At the same time, I believe that the dictum  “Kol Hascholoas Kashos” is a statement that correctly defines that crossroads that Beth Itzchok stands. 

We are now in the middle of a project of renewal.  The shul is being modernized, and the hope is that Beth Itzchok will continue to be a central location for Torah and Tefillah in Chicago.  But  not only is this a time for a shul renewal, it is a time for a personal renewal.   Elul is a time to look at ourselves and ask,  “are we doing everything we can in our service of Hakadosh Baruch Hu? What can I do this year that I did not do last year?  Even though, I am “old," and have davened for years, can my tefillos be improved?"   Beginnings are tough.  But getting old is tougher. 

In the 37th chapter of Tehillim that we say every day in the month of Elul, we ask Hashem that we should reside in the house of Hashem all the days of our lives. A few verses after we make that request, we ask for the opportunity to “visit”. Are we asking to live permanently in the house of G-d or to visit?   The answer is both. We are asking to live permanently, and at the same time, it should feel like it’s the first time.  We should wear our teffilin every morning and feel as if it were the first time we put on our teffillin.  We should daven with the same excitement as we did the first time we each were give a siddur.   Beginning are tough - but there is a sense of excitement that comes with beginnings.   Getting old, and routine is more dangerous.  

As a shul, we are old - we have been around the proverbial block. At the same time, we are young and ready to grow.  And the message of Dovid Ha’melech is clear.  Make sure that you don’t get so old that the you lose your enthusiasm. Desire to stay in the House of G-d of every day – but do it with the same excitement as you had the very first time.

With that in mind, please accept my warmest wishes for a good happy and healthy New Year filled with brachos, nachas and all good things.  

Rabbi Shlomo Crandall
Beth Itzchok


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