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SWINGING FROM VINE TO VINE

By Carol Felixson

Our beloved Rabbi, Joshua Katzan, is a swinger. But not the kind you might imagine. He envisions his life as “swinging from vine to vine.”
 
“Whenever change is upon me,” he said, “I’ve felt pressure to let go of the vine I am holding onto, reaching for the next one, not yet having it in hand, but having faith that it will show up.”
 
Happpily, a few years ago, he reached Mishkon and has tethered his vine to ours!
 
Recently, he received an honorary doctorate from American Jewish University.  He riffed a bit about what it meant to him. He chuckled as he said, “It certifies that I’ve survived the Jewish people and my rabbinical career thus far.”  
 
He didn’t write a dissertation, but if he had, he said, “it would be about how Judaism helps people to flourish in living their lives.” He believes that, among many other things, Judaism is a form of culture. It can manifest for people in having ideas and practices that they hold on to and then pass on to the next generation.
 
“The words remain the same, though the realities and meanings of the times may change,” he said.
 
Perhaps because of his daily meditation practice or the fact that, when he was growing up, his father told him to follow his interests and not get stuck doing something he hated, Rabbi Katzan considers himself “the luckiest person I know, mostly because I have always pursued my interests (as my father wished for me), and it has proven to be fulfilling and successful.”
 
He said, “My personal mission is to help facilitate people’s encounters with Judaism that supports and creates fulfillment in all dimensions of their lives.” It can manifest through music, Torah study, leading services, facilitating at life-cycle events, and much, much more, he said.
 
When Rabbi Katzan awakens in the morning, it’s a Shehecheyanu moment for him. He said, “I feel good and happy.  Alive and grateful.”
 
We Mishkonites feel good and happy, too. Alive and grateful that he is our rabbi. Our vines have entwined. We’re lucky, indeed!
 
 
(According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, a riff can be a short and lively set of comments on a particular subject or a short and usually repeated pattern of notes in instrumental music and/or a song.)
                                                           
 
Sat, May 18 2024 10 Iyyar 5784