In the Book of Genesis, there is mention of a character whose identity is all but invisible to the unfolding story of creation. His name is Enoch. Enoch is the father of Methuselah (whose biblical claim to fame is having lived for 969 years), but other than that, very little is said about him. The sages, however, were drawn to Enoch for the same reason they were drawn to Elijah the Prophet. Neither Enoch nor Elijah dies, each of them is “taken by God.”
According to the bible, “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, for God took him” (Genesis. 5:24). This is all we know, and yet, Enoch, whose silent presence in the Book of Genesis is unremarkable at best, comes to be known as a man whose quiet and unpretentious character epitomizes what it means to put your heart and soul into a job.
The embellishment of Enoch’s story takes place through the writings of our sages, who creatively fill in the back story of his life by describing him as a humble cobbler who, with every stitch on every shoe creates a mystical union with God. These stories paint the picture of a man who, through the love and attention he puts into his work is able to stitch heaven and earth together. Thus, by giving his heart and soul to every measure of his efforts and in striving to provide quality and satisfaction to those who would be receiving the fruits of his labors, Enoch’s work becomes holy work and his efforts become a spiritual endeavor.
Each of us is familiar with the beauty that comes when the labor of our hands is invested with the love of our hearts. There is something sacred and holy about projects that are driven by our desires to make the world a better place. Such projects enable us to understand the concept of “a labor of love.”
This year we bid farewell to an individual, who like Enoch, operated with little fanfare. Our maintenance man, Jerry Propri, who has been quietly and humbly taking care of our temple for almost a decade, has retired. For those who have ever met Jerry, you could not help but like him. He always has a smile on his face, and his heart is filled with boundless love for the temple and the work he does here.
He has never treated his responsibilities at HCRJ as a job, rather he has considered his work a sacred task and has poured his heart and soul into everything he has ever done for us. Like Enoch, Jerry has helped stitch a little bit of heaven and earth together.
On Friday night, February 24, we will honor Jerry and his family with a special service. Please join us as we formally say “thank you” for all they have done. Jerry’s work has been a labor of love, and for his boundless devotion to our congregation, we will be forever grateful.