I want to thank all of you for reading my Parshiot each week. I also want to wish you all a L'Shana Tova uMetuka, a good and sweet new year. I am very excited about our High Holy Days Services and our entire year of Temple and Living Well speakers and events. You will be informed of all of our events and hope you will join us!


I want to thank Cheryl Wolf for her untiring dedication to Congregation Beit T'Shuvah and all of it's members. Cheryl is always saying "Hineni" when asked for anything. Cheryl is a prime example of the employees at Beit T'Shuvah, caring, hardworking and living a life of T'Shuvah/Recovery. Thank you Cheryl!


This week's Parsha is Nitzavim. This translates to 'standing'. In today's world, many of us are asked who do we stand for? I think this is the wrong question. One of the questions that has haunted me this week is: What am I standing for? In the Parsha, Moses tells us that we are standing before God. In many Temples, the phrase "Da Lifne Atah Hu Omade" is on the wall/Ark. "Know before Whom you stand" haunts me at times. I am asking myself and I ask you, are you/I aware you/I are standing before God all the time? I am not always aware of this and this saddens me and propels me to be more aware more often. I know my actions don't always show that God is with me or even around me.


I am sorry to all of you for the times I have acted as if I am God and not seen the Divine in you. I commit to do better and I know I won't be perfect. I am suggesting to all of us that we think more about where we are standing so we remember that God is among us!


Another haunting question is: what do each of us stand for? Do we, individually and communally, stand for the Covenant with God? Do we stand for our own self-interests? Do we stand for Rabbi Heschel's concept: "the interests of others should be our concerns"?  I ask myself each day, do my words and actions match? Do I live my principles out loud? How am I growing and doing one grain of sand more each day?


In doing my own Chesbon HaNefesh, I acknowledge the times that I fall short/miss the mark of my goals and your expectations. These times bring me great pain and sorrow. I commit to make these times less in this coming year. I also have pride in the times when I hit the mark of my goals and your expectations. I want you to expect me to be who I am. I am a flawed human being who works hard to respond to each experience that I see, hear and am called to. I don't always do it. I won't always do it. I don't and won't always do it well. My way of being seems reactive at times, this is because I take your life and mine so/too seriously at times and am filled with trembling fear. This is not an excuse, it is a fact and an admission. I am working to balance your needs, the needs of Beit TShuvah, the community, my family and my own needs. Sometimes, I miss the mark. I ask you to talk to me about it rather than write me or Beit TShuvah or Judaism off.


I am asking you to do this same Accounting of your Soul. Give yourselves a break, you and I are not perfect! That's why we need to remember we stand before God and with community. We need to remember that we stand for the principles of our Covenant with God, partner, family, community, etc. As we get ready to choose the life we want in this next year, please remember to go to Temple, hopefully our Services:) because you are choosing where and with whom you are standing. Please also remember, as I learned from Rabbi Harold Schulweis, 36 times Torah tells us to care for the poor, the stranger, the widow and the orphan. We are not talking only monetarily here, we are talking about people who are cut off/orphaned from spirit, joy, dignity and living well. Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova, Rabbi Mark