“Here I Am”

Lee Herman’s remarks upon receiving the Hineni Award in May 2013

I am pleased to accept the Hineni Award from Rodeph Shalom.  Hineni means “Here I Am” and is found in Genesis when Adonoi called to Abraham and Abraham answered “Hineni” or “Here I Am.”
While this recognition acknowledges that I have answered the call, I really accept this award on behalf of the connection groups and congregational activities which have had so much meaning to me, since the award would not be possible without the people with whom I have labored.  In particular, the Men of RS including Ed Rudow, Tomas Isakowitz and Carl Schneider have been true joys to work with.  Matt Wander has been involved in both the Men of RS and the congregational choir.  My appreciation also goes to Cantor Frankel from whom I have learned so much, and the other members of the choir, too many to name.  Finally, I recognize David Mandell as the real leader of Rak N Kol, and Rabbi Maderer who has brought important issues to our congregation through the caring community.  Rabbi Freedman’s energy has brought life to Mercaz Limud and Rabbi Kuhn’s overall leadership has brought a new vision to Rodeph Shalom.
Modern forensic science employs techniques like DNA and fiber analysis to catch criminals.  You see, even when one doesn’t intend to leave clues, the things we touch leave proof where we have been.   But the opposite is also true:  You may know that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  So not only does a person leave proof he was at a particular place, the places where we have been touch us, and can leave their fingerprints or DNA on the people who were there.
I want to share with you that being a part of RS has changed me.  You see, until I came to RS, I’ve been most focused on material things like making a living and have paid little attention to things outside my work and my family.  Being part of RS has caused my focus to change.  I now concentrate on what is truly important: Instead of focusing on making a living, I now focus on making a life.  I am committed to a more spiritual path, figuring out and fulfilling my spiritual mission, my true purpose in this world.  As we sing each Friday evening, I have committed to make my life a blessing.  And, it means so much to me that my wife, Patsy, has made a commitment to join me each Shabbat for Friday evening services.
As I said, being part of this community has allowed me to make a commitment, not just a contribution.  Do you know the difference between a commitment and a contribution?  Take for example a breakfast of bacon and eggs.  While the chicken is happy to make a contribution, it is the pig that has made the real commitment.
Together, RS is growing, not only in its numbers but also in its mission.  We aspire to be a “Kehila Kedoshah”, a holy community, or to put it differently a place that makes a difference in our world.  We are committed to spiritual growth and true interpersonal connection. As individuals and as a community, we have been sent a call and we have heard that call. And, like Abraham, at RS we are answering “Hineni”.  I am honored to be part of what is happening here.
– Lee Herman