Rabbi Daniel Liben and Palmer — 38 Years — So Far!

We are so happy that Rabbi Daniel Liben of Temple Israel of Natick, MA is one of our Visiting Educators this week.  His long history with Ramah Palmer started in 1979 when he came on tzevet (staff), and continued to 2005.  During this time Rabbi Liben served for many years as Rosh Rikud (head of the dance program).  Even more: his five children all attended Palmer as chanichim (campers), and four of the five continued to serve on tzevet.  We are not done! Rabbi Liben is thrilled that his connection continues now with his grandson Dov, currently a chanich in Ilanot (pictured below).

This morning Rabbi Liben delivered a D’var Tefillah to Ilanot, in which he reviewed the incident in this week’s Parsha (portion of the week), Chukat, when Moshe struck the Rock to get water for the thirsty, hot, complaining people, and the severe consequence of that action (God did not permit Moshe to enter the land of Israel).  Rabbi Liben described how Moshe yelled at the people at this moment and called them “Rebels”, and how scary it is when a leader loses control, yells, and hits things.  The chanichim were most animated and insightful in their responses; there was a split and mini-debate between those who advocated for Moshe’s perspective, and those who were critical of his action and agreed with the  resulting severe consequence.  These were some of the chanichim’s comments: “Moshe was wrong in hitting the rock — because the rock was created by God too!”; “God — and we — should be more compassionate towards Moshe, as he was still grieving the death of his sister Miriam”; “The consequence was appropriate because especially our leaders need to be able to manage their emotions and not lose control in a physically violent way” and “The consequence was way too harsh, given how much good Moshe did in carrying out the word of God over so many years and through much trauma and hardship”.  Rabbi Liben’s concluding comment: “Perhaps Moshe should have emulated the Ilanot Rosh Edah (division head) Andy, who would never lose his temper, yell, and hit things!” Brilliant comments, all.

Rabbi Liben’s passion for and long connection with Palmer are palpable and inspiring.  Rabbi Liben says, “Ramah really shaped my kids’ lives, and watching them grow here are among my best memories. What a thrill to see my oldest grandson continuing the tradition. Ramah — a place that never changes and yet is always new!”