“Make your home a regular meeting place for the scholars . . . open wide the doors of your home and make others welcome members of your home…” (adapted for Pirkei Avot 1:4,5).

In a rabbinic utopian world, one’s homes was to be a regular meeting place of Torah study with the doors wide open, inviting everyone in. The vision calls for the home to be a center of learning, for ourselves and everyone else; whom we treat like family.

At its basic level, we all have our home. That is the place we go home to every evening and wake up every morning. Yet, in truth, we have many other homes. We have places where we feel at home; safe, secure, and loved. We have places we go to challenge ourselves and places we go to feed and nourish our souls. Those places are not always the places we return to each day or even each week, but places where we find meaning and comfort, and return to regularly.

The synagogue is such a place. It is one of our homes and is a place where we learn Torah together, with our doors wide open. It is the place where we enact the rabbinic vision of studying Torah with open doors, uniting our hearts together, as we become family.

The truth is, it is not always easy to fulfill this grandiose vision. How do you make a synagogue a regular meeting place for Torah study with the doors wide open?

It takes special people to help make that vision a reality. And for us at Temple Emanuel, much of our ability to make our synagogue home such a place, has been thanks to Gail Julich. For so many years, Gail has been one of the voices you have heard when you have called the synagogue. She has been the person answering questions, sharing information about upcoming services or events, or connecting you with someone else in the synagogue. She has been the voice when you ring the doorbell, welcoming you in; ensuring the door is literally open for you! And, she is the warm welcome when you enter the synagogue office.

And once you have connected to the synagogue or entered the doors, she has helped to make sure that there are opportunities to learn and grow. She has helped to ensure that we have been able to learn and daven together. She has put together countless flyers and e-mails letting our community know about learning opportunities and experiences in the building, ensuring that the synagogue is a regular meeting place of Torah. She has been my right-hand person, helping me at each turn. She has supported me in so many ways, for which I am forever grateful.

Over the years, Gail has helped to make the synagogue a home for so many of us –a home filled with Torah, friendship, love, and family. As Gail prepares for her retirement, it is an appropriate moment to say thank you for helping to fulfill the utopian vision of making our synagogue a home filled with Torah, whose doors are wide open.

Thank you, Gail, for your dedication and love to the synagogue. We all wish you a wonderful retirement and will miss your daily presence in the synagogue. We hope your retirement is fulfilling and filled with wonderful adventures and open doors.