b. k
aron, you have received many beautiful and meaningful blessings this afternoon.
I believe I now know the significance of the term “abundant blessings.” We come
together now for a time of celebration and a time to toast your future as our leader.
We know that you are ready to be our President and we want you to know that we are ready
to have you as our President. We are here as partners as you have accepted the challenges and
opportunities that this unique position affords. We’re here with you today, not only for today,
but for the many tomorrows.
We know that you are a person of great integrity and of great generosity – intellectually,
spiritually, thoughtfully, and materially. We count on you to be our friend, teacher,
motivator, nurturer, and challenger as together we sustain and advance the mission of
the College-Institute.
We also know, Aaron, that you hold a great value in the concept of Space - not only Sacred
Space, but in the sanctuary of your Home, as an engineer, as a pilot in the air, and as a sailor
on the water. But your ability to soar is coupled with your ability to anchor yourself and
direct your vision to its goal.
I have long had a favorite quotation from the playwright Ibsen: “Tie yourself to a star
and sail with it.”
Aaron, you have attached your soul and your energies to the Hebrew Union College-
Jewish Institute of Religion and we anticipate that you will navigate the best course for
us, and we will soar to even greater heights in the future.
And now I ask that all of your friends, family, colleagues, and supporters gathered here
today prepare to raise their glasses. My cup is a very special and meaningful one. It is a
gift from Aaron and Lisa that exquisitely represents the Passover story and depicts Moses
and his brother Aaron pleading before Pharoah for the freedom of the Jewish people.
It has been engraved with today’s date.
To Rabbi Aaron Panken, may you be blessed with many long, successful, and rewarding
years as the President of HUC-JIR. May you be known for your greatness in leadership
and may the College continue to prosper and thrive.
Mazel Tov!
InauguraTIon ToaST