Recently, I had the privilege of officiating in the same week at a wedding and a Bat Mitzvah. A few weeks later our junior congregation led our Shabbat services for the first time ever. As I reflect on these occasions I am vividly reminded of why I love being a rabbi.
Many years ago when I became a believer in Messiah Yeshua, (I was already in my thirties) I never envisioned myself as a rabbi. Instead I thought it would be nice to have a congregation to belong to and support in whatever ways I could, but the prospect of leading such a congregation never entered my thinking. What I soon discovered was, that in order to have what we desire and need as a community, often requires those who are willing to do the leading. Stated another way, if we want to have a vibrant Messianic Jewish community, some must have the calling and training to envision and build it. So I am grateful, first to HaShem for placing the calling on me, and secondly to the people, rabbis before me, who helped to educate and train me for the task of being a congregational rabbi.
I see the primary function of a rabbi to be a community builder. By community I mean a place where Jewish people can live out their lives faithfully with Messiah Yeshua as our king, within the framework of the long and beautiful tradition of our people Israel. It has been my privilege to do this for the last 20 years at my congregation Simchat Yisrael in West Haven Connecticut.
In those years we have built more than a house of worship, we have built a home for ourselves and our children. In addition, I think we have helped to build the larger community of Messianic Judaism by the ways in which not only I, but any number of our members, have been able to serve the congregation and the movement.
Our passion has been to raise up a new generation of Jewish believers in Messiah Yeshua, those who love the Lord, and love their people. We have also been a haven for people in need, helping them through the vicissitudes of life from cradle to grave. To this end the work of the Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council has been invaluable. Through our work in the Council we have been able to give consistent shape to our communal lives, and make our lives all the more meaningful.
When I look back on the events of the last month, I think; "how many people it took to make those marvelous simchahs a reality". This is the work of rabbis, bringing all those people together for a common purpose. As the book of Ephesians says; " Their task is to equip God's people for the work of service that builds the body of the Messiah".
Read more about Rabbi Eaton on his profile page.