It is hard to believe that my term as president of Temple Emanuel has come to an end.
Ensuring Temple Emanuel’s success weighed heavily in my thoughts and was the source of quite a few sleepless nights this past year. Temple Emanuel, like many synagogues, was not immune to the downturn in full paying membership with congregants wrestling with choices of how and where to spend their disposable income.
However, the way in which our temple lay and professional leadership responded to our congregational family is an example of what I have found to be most rewarding. For me, knowing the impact Temple Emanuel has had in our members’ lives, AND the spiritual connections that have been made through our unique community, is what makes me so proud. Additionally, I cannot help but reflect on how blessed and fortunate I have been to work with a dedicated team of phenomenal people: our clergy, staff, board of directors, lay leaders, and many active members who collectively represent Team Emanuel.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
The collective energy of the team has allowed our synagogue to thrive, function, and embrace “Living Judaism.” It is they who helped facilitate turning so many shared goals and ideas into realities.
When I began my term three years ago as your president, enhanced communication and collaborative decision making were important goals of mine, along with everyone else on Team Emanuel.
Balancing our needs with our budgetary constraints is not an easy task—especially during some unexpected challenges. It was our dynamic clergy in concert with our board of directors and executive director who took on this challenging task. They were especially mindful to look outside the box and make difficult yet bold decisions to shape and reimagine what TEBH can and should look like over the next 50 years. Even with its challenges, I am confident we will be a shining example of building tomorrow’s Judaism today!
Your clergy, staff, and board of directors made a conscious decision to create a vibrant community where people felt connected. Be it unique and inspiring worship opportunities, social advocacy involvement, inspiring classes, our Saturday morning minyan, a Mamma Mia themed Shabbat service, or a wine and cheese reception, these are just a sampling of our diverse and inclusive community programming.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” It is to this end that we have made the bold yet fiscally prudent decision to monetize the Burton Way school building, which has been virtually empty for over a year. This decision will allow us to pay off our long-term debt and reimagine a new and improved multipurpose facility on Clark Drive. We want to deliver our style of Judaism to a broader range of worshippers, all while adapting to the more fluid ways Jews pray and embrace their community.
There are so many people to thank and I would be remiss if I didn’t start with my wife Sue. Sue has been a wealth of advice, encouragement, and wisdom as well as my inspiration. To our clergy: Rabbi Aaron, Rabbi Bassin, Cantor Weiss, Rabbi Lutz, and of course our always inspiring Rabbi Laura Geller—thank you from the bottom of my heart. Huge gratitude goes to our former Executive Director Ellis Kirschenbaum and our new Executive Director Matt Davidson along with their outstanding staff for keeping our engine running with efficiency and professionalism.
Without a doubt I am thankful to have served with the finest temple board any president can dream of. This board has spent an enormous amount of time planning, chairing committees, and ultimately making difficult policy decisions to ensure Temple Emanuel remains the vibrant, fiscally accountable, and caring community we have become. For that, I am grateful!
I am also very grateful to our members, who make up the diverse tapestry of committed Jews wishing to celebrate their faith their way and without judgment. This world could learn by example at how Temple Emanuel’s diversity has become our strength. It is you, our congregational family, who have helped transform Emanuel into a kind and socially responsible community.
It has been a privilege to be your president these past three-plus years. This experience has left a handprint on my heart and enriched my life in so many ways. I know I will look back at this time with much affection because of so many cherished memories that stirred my soul, rejuvenated my spirit, and left me feeling a deep sense of warmth and compassion from a community that truly cares!
Thank you very much!!