Meet Rabbi Doug Heifetz
A few words about my background: I live in Silver Spring, MD, with my wife and our two children. A year ago, I left a position as the full-time rabbi of another area Reconstructionist congregation. After 11 years there, I chose to pursue a new career as an artisan and entrepreneur.
I feel very fortunate that, while pursuing my artistic career, I can also serve as the new part-time rabbi of Beit Tikvah. I hope that as many of you as possible will attend the events and programs over the months ahead, and will introduce yourselves when you have a chance.
Occasionally throughout our services, I will offer brief comments to suggest possible meanings of the prayers and rituals. I believe that occasional explanations can help many Jews and non-Jews alike to find personal insight and spiritual support from our tradition. The beauty and helpful meanings of our prayers are not always obvious. The traditional services also offer significant challenges, and many of our prayer concepts, if understood literally, can offend modern sensibilities.
I believe that the key phrases and images are best understood as soulful metaphor, not as literal truth. While some of our ancestors may have taken these images literally, many did not. For example, for thousands of years Jews have prayed the words, Avinu Malkeinu, in which we address God as ‘our father.’ I don’t believe that our ancestors ever really believed that God was ‘their father’. Rather, they understood this term as poetry.
We, too, may approach the Avinu Malkeinu prayer as a poetic metaphor. We might read it, for instance, as an affirmation of our commitment to seek support and nurturing in our lives. Just as the term Avinu Malkeinu (‘Our Father, Our King’) traditionally suggested the presence of a strong and supportive, parent-like God, we too must live as if strength and support are attainable. The more we open our hearts and minds to assistance and inspiration from many sources, the more likely we are to find it. The prayer affirms this process.
I invite you to search in our prayers for the points of meaning which most speak to you, just as our ancestors have always done. I look forward to celebrating the holidays with you, and to exploring the many rich possibilities together.