Newsletter 2020 - 2021 - Page 3

From the Chair of the Board

W hen we read Parashat Vayeitzei in mid- November this year , I celebrated the 57th anniversary of my becoming a Bar Mitzvah . It hasn ’ t escaped me that I was born 5 years before AJR was first established , and it was 5 years ago in early 2016 that I had the privilege of joining the Board of Trustees . So , all this appears , as is so often in life , to reflect the subtle etzba Elohim , the finger of God that has played a role in bringing me to AJR . And yes , as our patriarch Jacob noted below when awakening from his famous dream of a ladder with angels ascending to and descending from heaven , AJR is an AWESOME place . We are a place in which study and love of Torah , God , and the Jewish people is expressed and nurtured in its fullest and broadest sense . We have , throughout our history , worked with diligence and enthusiasm to embody our defining statement , “. . . ordaining rabbis and cantors and training leaders and scholars who combine their mastery of the intellectual and spiritual richness of our tradition with openness to its application in the pluralistic , contemporary Jewish community . . . “ We have doubled the size of the school within the past four years while creating a Cantors-to-Rabbis program , a Kol-Bo program for ordination as both a rabbi and a cantor . We also received two transformative grants and have succeeded with many other innovative and pioneering programs and accomplishments , as you will see in the following pages .

So , what – you may ask – is the secret to both our longevity and future-oriented , constant innovation ? The answer may lie within the imagery of the ladder cited below in Jacob ’ s dream . Unique among “ tools ” that assist us to reach otherwise unattainable heights , a ladder requires us to both step up to the rung closest
“ How awesome this place is ! It is none other than God ’ s house . . . “
( Genesis 28:17 )
to us AND to reach up to a higher rung . AJR ’ s amazing administration and staff , faculty , students , alumni , supporters and our Board of Trustees understand the lesson of the ladder . And it is that commitment - to always seeking to reach higher and to achieve that which seems unreachable - that will enable us to continue to innovate and be responsive to the spiritual and religious needs of the Jewish people and the world at large for the years ahead .
I invite you to join us on this heavenly ladder . Step up , stretch out and be a part of our efforts , now and in the years ahead , to continue to be this awesome Jewish seminary transforming the Jewish world !
Dr . William Liss-Levinson
2020 / 2021 - 5781 1