A Letter From Senior Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig

Dear Friends,

The High Holy Days are upon us and we turn our thoughts to what our tradition calls a “Cheshbon haNefish” – an accounting of the soul in which we assess our lives and determine how and what we must change. This year, I am writing to share some recent health news that will require some considerable changes in my life.

A little over a week ago, after officiating at an August 18 wedding, I experienced extreme dizziness and my doctor recommended an MRI. That MRI revealed that I had suffered a minor stroke. Additionally, there was evidence indicating that I suffered a similar minor stroke sometime in the last three-six months without being aware of it.  

Over the last ten days, I have undergone extensive testing and consulted at length with my doctors. Thankfully, I have no cognitive or physical damage whatsoever from either of these episodes. I am able to drive, exercise, and perform all the functions of normal life. But my doctors have emphasized how lucky I have been to have no residual consequences and they have urged me to take these episodes very seriously. They have indicated that the best treatment plan is to minimize the stress in my life and have recommended that I significantly reduce my rabbinic responsibilities for at least the next month.  

After consulting with family, friends, the clergy team, and our lay leadership, I have accepted everyone’s advice and will be pulling back from the day-to-day functions of the Senior Rabbi position for the next month. Of necessity, I will therefore not take part in our High Holy Day services this year. As you can imagine, this is a bitter pill for me to swallow as I have observed and celebrated the High Holy Days with all of you for more than 30 years. But I must think of my future and that of my families – both my own and my congregational family.

Our clergy, staff, and lay leadership have all worked together over the last several days to make certain that this period goes smoothly and that all elements of life at WHC — worship, social action, lifelong learning, and more — will proceed as already planned. Our clergy team will be led by Sue Shankman and every member of the team will be expanding their role and taking on additional responsibilities as necessary during this period. I am confident that our exceptional clergy and staff are more than able to shoulder any additional burden that my absence will present.  

I hope you will support me in this critical choice, its challenges, and the changes that it will bring. I appreciate your understanding of this situation and urge each of you to count your many blessings; if we choose blessing and life it will certainly be a sweet New Year for all.

Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig
Senior Rabbi