Back from the most walking-intensive day I've had in some time. We took the kids to Central Park, which was filled with enough Pesach tourists for a variation of Will Smith's Men in Black improvisation: "It just be rainin' Jewish people in New York!". We worked our way from the southern entrance up to the Great Lawn, with lots of rock-climbing, etc. along the way. I have more to post about this, and possibly will tonight or tomorrow.
Returning home, I found a bunch of messages from people who appreciated my email auto-reply.
To explain: I've always disliked cold auto-reply messages - "I will be out of the office from X to Y, if you need to reach me, etc." When I was a shul rabbi, I had a pretty austere auto-reply, and I included lots of clutter, too - "For minyan times, for mikvah appointments, for hospitality in the area, for emergencies..." But I'm rebelling now. Granted that I have a [cough] image to uphold within my public position, there still must be ways to be a human being.
So this time I decided to go with something a little more friendly, but still sober enough that I don't appear to actually have a sense of humor:
Thanks for your email.
Sorry to be impersonal, but this is an automatic reply sent by a machine that cannot tell the difference between Spam, listserv messages, shailos and personal messages. I have not read your email yet.
I expect to be travelling from Sunday March 28 through Thursday April 8. I should have email access, but since I will be untethered from my Blackberry (!), my reading and replies may not be rapid. Rest assured, I do feel guilty for that. But let's move on.
If this is an emergency, please log off and phone 911 (or check out a neat on-line 911 system that was never implemented, here). To reach me immediately, please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.
Have a great day,
And now to you: What would you do to personalize your auto-reply, without shocking innocent people who just want to communicate with the Rosh Kollel shli"ta?