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S: Memories from Yale

1: With love and appreciation to the entire Rappoport family for nine wonderful years, The Yale Jewish Community and the Young Israel House at Yale Board

28: At a senior toast several years ago, I tried to compliment Rabbi Rappoport by saying he embodied Levinasian respect for the priority of the other, and then I tried to say several other similar philosophical epithets I've now forgotten. He interrupted me to point out that the true Levinasian will avoid complimentary description of the Other for similar reasons that she will avoid nasty description: delimiting the Other's bounds does a certain ontological violence inconsistent with the ethical. Be as careful praising someone else as you would criticizing him, for in either case you objectify. If that makes it tricky to "write something nice," that's good: the main lessons I learned from four years with Rabbi Rappoport's in classes, chevrutas, dinners, and ad hoc debates were that ideas are tricky and that thus ought to be cautious. Nobody was more careful not to say more than he thought could be proved, or speak outside of his own experience. Rabbi Rappoport was a good-natured skeptic; not quite sure your position added up, he would nonetheless the take the time to work all the way through it carefully, because he would not assume that his position added up either. What in other people is a philosophical position or a theological system, for him was something like a virtue or habit: a modesty in front of both great, difficult truths and preposterous humbug, a genuine interest in and curiosity about what others had to think and say, and a deep concern in legitimizing disagreement and difference. These are attributes I struggle towards in great part because of what I learned from Rabbi Rappoport. And yet, at the same time, the Rappoports were incredibly bold in sacrificing for the Yale Jewish community. I'm always amazed at their generosity in hosting undergraduates week in, week out at their house for shabbos dinner, at the late hours at which Rabbi Rappoport Meira, and the kids could be found still at Slifka, at the time and care he put into every aspect of the Orthodox (and broader observant) community. His intellectual care was a great hindrance to shaky arguments, but it never stopped simple commitment to Torah, the Yale Jewish community, or his students. Raffi

29: It feels strange to try to record a single memory among so many: the mornings spent learning with Ori and trying to field his insightful questions, the dinners spent yelling across a table in the Kosher Kitchen with Rabbi Rappoport in the middle of an intellectual melee, or the quiet conversation with Meira while she rocks a baby, or the exhilarating Channuka messibot with the entire family in the Rappoport home. But here is one memory: It was late at night (after iyyun shiur, I think), and I was walking back to Branford College. You, Rabbi Rappoport, were also heading home on your bike, but you decided to dismount for the first stretch of Elm Street so that we could walk together. I don't know if you remember that night, but it left a strong imprint on me. I think I was bemoaning the lack of serious time that I was putting into Torah-study - as many of us newly-returned-from-Israel students are prone to do. But you neither patted my on the back and validated my current position, nor delivered an unhelpful schmooze about needing to budget and manage time better. Instead, you commented on my upbringing and the various gifts - intellectual, situational, familial - that have allowed me to function as I do religiously and academically, and issued a simple, quiet appeal for responsibility. This was powerful in itself, but then you discussed your own life and religious development & struggles. With this, I felt the compulsion of responsibility even more strongly - outweighed only by an immensely increased respect for you. what you value and what you have accomplished. You lead both by example and through conversation, and in the last two years I have been blessed to learn from your mind, your action and your honesty. You, and your entire family, have had a tremendous impact on my life at Yale, my development as a person, and my identity as a Jew. Thank you. -Yishai Schwartz | To the Rappoport family, I feel so blessed to have caught the end of your time at Yale. Walking into your home for a shabbat or yom tov meal always brought me a rush of comfort and familiarity. I've been so impressed this entire year with the stronghold of values and love of Judaism that is always present in your home and in all your interactions. Thank you for giving so much of yourselves to this community. May you receive as much as you always give! hatzlacha! Shira T.

30: To the Rappoports: Back when I was a frightened freshman, Rabbi Rappoport and the Orthodox minyan were the first to make me feel at home at Yale. The community of dedicated Jews that flocks around the Rappoports is one-of-a-kind, and made its mark forever on my own Jewishness: Even the fact that I wore and continue to wear a yarmulke every day owes itself to Rabbi Rappoport and the friends I met through him. The Rappoport successor can dedicate himself to the Yale community 24 hours a day, have a wonderful family, excellent Shabbos dinners and send out the customary 300 emails a day, and he'll still have a hard time living up to the standards that have been set for him. I will miss the Rappoports very much, wish them great success wherever they go, and be grateful to them always. - Dan Gelernter | There once was a truly great Rav, That the Yale community did love! With us he's instructive, With Meira ... reproductive. His dedication to Yale stands above. Dan Abadi | Ever since I arrived here, fresh from a year at Migdal Oz, you have been such wonderful support for me. From offering shiurim, to singing, to shmoozing to confirming my frumkeit, you have helped me feel like my life isn't just one big descent into a world of shmad and profanity. Thank you for hosting us, for eating breakfast with us, and for teaching me your challah recipe. I wish you all the best of luck in your new start in Alon Shevut. We'll miss you. -Leah Sarna

31: Dear Rabbi Rappoport, Meira, and Family, Thank you for opening up your home to me countless times during the six and a half years we were in New Haven together for Shabbos and holiday meals and celebrations. Thank you for all that you have done for those who frequent the Slifka Center. I have enjoyed watching your family grow up and grow. I wish you the best of luck upon your return to Israel. May our paths cross in the future. Miriam C. Grossman | Whew. How can we recognize nine years of dedicated service when some of the oldest of us have been here for only four or five? A family can be at a college for two years and make friends with some students, or they can be there for five years and make friends with all of them, or they can stay even longer and forge relationships with graduate students and community members on- and off-campus, or one of them can get a degree and become connected with the faculty and staff. Ultimately, the more, over time, that you give to a community and institution, the more firmly rooted you become within it, and it in you. It may be difficult for this community to re-find its center after the Rappoports leave, and it may discover itself renegotiating modes of life and relationships that it had taken for granted under their guidance. But hopefully we will be able to bring forward, in their absence, some of the many things they have taught us: about the importance of maintaining your own identity in a multifarious and angst-ridden environment; in the value of cultivating different interests and pursuits as a bridge towards people, in creating a community that preserves its tight-knit nature even while interfacing confidently with people and ideas outside of it, the value of forging an intellectual approach to Judaism that simultaneously does justice to both the Torah and the intellect, and, perhaps most importantly, the simple paramountcy of being meorav im hab'riot. Wishing you all the best of luck in all your future endeavors (and I am confident that they will be many), -yedidya

32: Dear Rabbi Rappoport and dear Meira, dear Shira, Tamar, Reut, Yair, Ori, Hadar, Adi, Moria, Halel, and Maor, Words cannot adequately express all you have done and all you have meant for this community. You were teachers, leaders, friends, family, and above all role-models who embodied the ideal of Torah and Mada. You formed the center of the community. You were a source of Torah, strength, wisdom, enthusiasm, advice, and warmth. I thank you very, very much for all of that! Your departure will leave a great emptiness behind, but your contributions and your influence will continue to shape this community. Also you: Shira, Tamar, Reut, Yair, Ori, Hadar, Adi, Moria, Halel, and Maor will be greatly missed. You filled the Slifka Center with life, with Semachot, with music, and with a weekly Shir Hakavod that no future young voice will be able to rival in power. It was a special privilege to be part of your childhood and I regret that I will not have the privilege to witness your further growth. For your return home and your future life in Israel, I wish you much Bracha and Hatzlacha, health, happiness, piece, and fulfillment. May we all live to return to Israel bimhera beyameinu. In deep gratitude, Yours, Ela

33: Dear Rabbi Rappoport, You have been one of the definitive figures in my intellectual and personal development. I have come to think of you as a philosopher-cleric in the great tradition of the role, devoted to thinking rigorously about every problem that comes before you, be it religious or secular, and your voracious intellectual curiosity set the tone for four years of non-stop growth through each discussion we had at Yale. No matter what lecture, seminar, book, or idea was the topic of conversation, you had questions, of often Socratic sharpness, that would cause me to rethink what I knew, or thought I knew. This central role that you played in my informal education (including the legendary reading groups he led on Rav Kook and Emmanuel Levinas) was only part of the picture, more than a scholar, you are a scholar-mensch. I cannot even count the times you and Meira welcomed me into your home with such incredible warmth, or sat with me around the table, weaving rich, strange harmonies that helped to give Jewish song the place it has in my heart. In so many ways, I owe the unique environment of the Kosher Kitchen, an environment I think of as one of the truest homes I have had, intellectually and spiritually, to you. Only rarely does one come across such a teacher, one who instructs not only at the bulletin board, but through every conversation, discussion, or meal one shares with him. I cannot hope to meet your like again, but your incisive mind, musical wit, and unbelievable tolerance and warmth for those not entirely like you have marked me indelibly. It is with great thanks that I think back on the good fortune of having had four years with you and your family, and I can only hope the future will hold many more. Sincerely, Jacob Abolafia Clare College, Cambridge

34: Seeing your smiling faces and instrument cases at the Neighborhood Music School, playing with Hadar and Adi on the floor of the Purple Couch Room, sharing Shabbat and holiday meals - and Meira's delicious cooking, meeting Rabbi Rappoport long ago at the French Table. Your family has brought warmth and light to me and to the community. Shira Winter

35: Dear Rappoport Family, I have had the most wonderful time getting to know as many of you as I could. You have provided me a great deal of cheerfulness, and I really feel that I have learned a lot from the whole family. Particularly to Meira and all those who have helped out in the kitchen every time I've been invited over, I am so grateful. Your house has really felt like a home to me. Rabbi Rappoport, the lessons you have taught me about Judaism and improving my workflow are invaluable and timeless. I am glad to say that your entire family's presence at Yale has really been a defining feature of my college experience. But I am sad to say that I will miss you all very much! All my best wishes for success and happiness in your journey to a new and better land. Hope to see you there sometime soon. Love, Jonathan Fisher | Hi, To me, Rabbi Jason and Meira Rappoport represented the fire and warmth of Torah. Whether it was providing a lengthy and careful response to a halachic questions, planning an depth shiur, organizing a lecture with famous speaker, trecking 30 minutes almost every Shabbat (or sleeping in Slifka), displaying much kavanah in davening, cooking Shabbat and Yom tov meals for more than two days, making sure that YIHY events adhered to the appropriate halachas and that the kosher kitchen was kept to at a high level of kashrut, or just taking the time to help organize and worry about the complicated logistics in minyanim and Slifka events, in addition to being loving parents, the flames of Rabbi Jason and Meira's intensity were felt throughout Slifka and the Yale community. Yet, through all of this hard work and high goals they were able to maintain a warm smile and happy outlook, through both easy and more challenging times. It was a gift to meet two individuals that possess these rare traits and to observe these traits in action. I hope to learn and develop just a tiny fraction of these wonderful middot. I will also miss Rabbi Jason, Meira, and their children. Simcha, mazal, shalom, u'vracha Noam Tanner

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