He Cared

What is the legacy you want to leave behind?

In two words, that is my answer, “He cared.”

In thousands of interactions as a rabbi, over the last 50 years, I cannot say I have always been right. I know that I have not. But I am proud to say, “I never phoned it in.” I cared deeply about the people with whom I dealt, the subjects I have tackled, the projects I have undertaken, and the speeches and sermons I have delivered.

I hope too I will be remembered for my role bringing the first female Cantor and first female rabbi to Columbia, Maryland, the first female rabbi to Nashville, Tennessee, and the first female Cantor to West Hartford, Connecticut. And most of all … I hope people will remember my role in bringing the first lesbian rabbi to West Hartford and that there were those back in 1999 who wanted my head on a platter for doing so.

The general acceptance of LGBTQ individuals as clergy in non-Orthodox Jewish life today is, thankfully, a given. It was unheard of when I was ordained in 1974, and it was uneasy in my congregation in 1999. We have come a long way.

A year ago, our movement celebrated the 50th anniversary of the ordination of Sally Priesand as our first woman rabbi. Now women outnumber men among those entering the rabbinate. The infusion of women rabbis has brought about a mind-boggling sea change in our movement’s sensitivity and inclusivity.

I would like people to remember my small role in furthering that process. I would like people to know that I did those things to fulfill God’s covenantal charge to Abraham to do, צדקה ומשפט׳ “what is right and just.” (Genesis 18:19)

No, if I am honest, I cannot say I was always “right.” But I can honestly say I always cared.

4 thoughts on “He Cared

  1. Thank you Rabbi for your honesty and for CARING ! Looking back 30 +years ago, Gratefully, I was one who witnessed and benefited from both.
    As I am approaching age 88, I am reflecting on my life , also…hmm, thinking ” Because I DID… ….” —
    The positive of “Had I not …..”!! So much , so many choices …. It was You, Rabbi who inspired and encouraged me to study Torah and to become a Bat Mitzvah at age 56. It was You, Rabbi who CARED ! Sending xxxooo’s to you and Vickie.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wednesday, May 24th, (2023)

    Dear Rabbi Fuchs:

    Shalom Aleichem ( ❤ ).

    What you brought to the beginnings of our personal dialogue when I first approached to assimilate and integrate into our beautiful-and-wealthy tradition, were — and very much still are — the qualities of both kindness and patience.

    I was — very much so — in need of a "social mooring," … and the timing of the delivery of your aforementioned qualities both exhibited as well as manifested toward me was nothing less that exquisite, and therein indelible.

    Thanking you, Rabbi Fuchs, so very very much.

    Genuinely and always.

    Aleichem Shalom,

    Mark David

    Liked by 1 person

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