Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hello all - it seems that I need to post to be able to allow you all access. Please give it a shot.



Martha & Michael Kahn said...

Dear Scott:

Rabbi Shimon used to say: There are three crowns--the crown of the Torah, the crown of the priesthood, and the crown of kingship, but the crown of a good name surpasses them all.

You Scott, have always had the crown of good name, which we are sure will remain as you continue your Jewish journey.

Mazel Tov on your rabbinic ordination.

Love, Martha, Michael, Sarah & Rachel

Caren said...

It seems like only yesterday that we were camping in Pismo Beach. The years have certainly flown by. May your Rabbinic years be blessed as you have blessed us. Mazel Tov! Caren

Brandy Spong said...

We are so amazed/impressed/happy for you!!!! The Jewish Community is luck to have you joining our ranks as a leader and teacher. You are a natural!! We love you and wish you all the success in the world. Sorry we can't be physically present to witness your simcha.

Brandy, Yasha, and Amelia

Rabbi Brian said...

Simplicity & pride.

I think pride is the closest word that I can come up with for the feeling I have in my heart thinking about your upcoming ordination. But, there is also a touch of wonder, simplicity, and purity to the feeling.

The whole Torah you already know. Now go and live it.

With love,

Your colleague,

(Rabbi) Brian

Andrea & David Stanley said...

Wait! You're Jewish? Funny, you don't look Jewish. What's with the blonde hair and the karate? Isn't this going pretty far to prove it? Law school wasn't good enough? Couldn't be a doctah? Sure, make us all look bad!

We read your ruminations about the importance of names and David wanted to share a story with you (how unusual . . . not).

Scotty (that's right, you'll always be Scotty),

I don't think I ever saw the inside of a synagogue growing up in the San Fernando Valley. We lit the Chanukah candles and had a big friends and family Seder at Pesach, but that was about the extent of my exposure to Judaism. When I was 9 years old, my father wanted to enroll me in Hebrew School. I never thought much about it, but maybe he was inspired by my having a fight with a kid at school who called me a "dirty Jew." That part I remember pretty vividly.

When my Dad discovered that most of our neighbors belonged to temples with seemingly enormous, unaffordable building funds, he came home one day frustrated and said, if he couldn't find a temple, he'd enroll us in a religious school at a local church, but one way or another, my sister and I would have a religious education. So in a final attempt, he stopped into a freshly stucco'd converted house with a star of David on top, just a few blocks from where we lived, and met "my" Rabbi (as Andrea has always distinguished him), and thus began my own spiritual journey.

I knew Rabbi Meier Schimmel for almost 50 years before he recently passed away. It was a bit of strange Karma that you're the one who called to let me know. He would tell stories at High Holy Days about my reading from the Torah as a young boy, helping to fix the audio equipment at the temple as a teen, and running into me when I was a student at UCLA playing guitar and singing at The Wine Cellar restaurant in Westwood where he was able to get a Kosher dinner. I, on the other hand, remember hanging out with my friends in the projection booth of the Studio City Theatre (where our annual services were conducted) listening to the World Series on one of those new-fangled transistor radios. He would occasionally catch us, but appreciated that we were at least still in temple all day, white robes and all. I made him proud, but my father made him laugh, and for both, we held a special place in his heart. For being my teacher, my friend, and (in the truest sense of the phrase) my "spiritual leader," he held a special place in mine.

He was perhaps the most genuinely inspired and inspirational person I have ever met. He literally beamed with a love of G_d, and he sang and danced, and shared his joy of life with hugs and kisses for his congregants. He believed so strongly in sharing this love of G_d that he had us all use the word "love" in place of "fear" whenever it appeared in print in our prayer books.

I walked to and from Temple after school and (dressed in a suit) every Saturday morning alone for years. Occasionally, my family would join me for a Friday evening service, and my Dad did a short stint on the board of the Temple, but for a man so committed to seeing me bar mitzvah'd, it was surprising that when the big day came and the Rabbi wanted to proudly announce that I, David ben _________ "blank" hmmmm, my Dad either never had or didn't remember his Hebrew name. So, "my" Rabbi thought long and hard, and said that my father was a good man and he should have a good name. In that moment, I became "David ben Shem Tov" (David son of "good name").

My grandmother had been Sarah Fink, who became vaudeville singer Sally Seeley, married to become Sally Stein, and her husband Michael changed his name to Stanley. My father was Jerome Stein, who became Jerome Stanley, and ultimately Shem Tov, father of David. As with so many Jews, names have somehow played an interesting role in my family's history, and so did one very special Rabbi.

At one time in my life, I thought seriously about the career you have chosen, but like so many times in my life, I chose a different path. Perhaps, I'll find a career that sticks someday. Probably not. You were the brave one, the committed one, who made the choice and stayed with it. It forced you to find a balance among your love of and devotion to family and friends, your faith, and your desire to teach, help, and inspire others.

Pride? Nachas? These are not all-encompassing enough to capture how Andrea and I feel about this next step in your life, and we don't speak enough yiddish to come up with the right phrase (though it no doubt relates to food in some way). If you can manage to blend who you are with what you've learned, and share it with others based on what you've chosen to do, your life and the lives of all those around you will truly be blessed. I, for one, am grateful to be one of them, and to whatever extent I was able to help along the way, I couldn't be more pleased. We know that you will hold a special place in the hearts and lives of those you encounter along the way, in much the same way "my" Rabbi does in mine.

Andrea and I wish you a lifetime of pride and joy in what you do, and the good health to share your spirit with the rest of us for many years.

Mazel Tov!


Andrea & David Stanley