President's Page

September Shofar article

The summer always goes by too quickly for me.  At the same time, I always look forward to the High Holy days.  I love the majesty of the moment; the concept that once a year we gather as a community, to catch up with each other, to reflect on the past year, and look with hope toward the next.

Every year I am grateful for something that has made the year outstanding.  Sometimes the reason is personal – because of a new child in the family or because of a special milestone.  Sometimes the reason is more focused on events outside my family – such as Israel’s accomplishments, or a number of years ago when we as a synagogue welcomed a family of Jews escaping the anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union.

This year the High Holy days will be a blend of both for me.  My family has been blessed to celebrate several simchas this past year.  And this marks the 50th anniversary of Temple Beth Ahm.  JoAnn and I were not founders.  We joined in the temple’s fifth year.  There was no building.  Services were held in the Lloyd Road school, except on the High Holy days, when they were in a tent on the property that is now the First Aid Squad at Church and Lloyd.  Although this synagogue without walls was unlike anything either of us had experienced, we decided to give it a try.  We’d just moved to New Jersey, knew no one, and felt very isolated.  That ended quickly!

We were warmly welcomed by the temple’s first rabbi, Morris Rubenstein, z’’l.  He put us in contact with Marcia Fox, then the temple’s membership chairperson.  What a difference she and her late husband Jerry, z’’l, made in our lives!  They not only invited us to their home so we could meet the extended family, all of whom became dear friends, they also got both of us involved.  JoAnn joined the Sisterhood and I took a position on the Board.

Marcia now lives most of the year in Florida. One of their children lives in Israel, and we visit her every time we go.  The other two live in Manhattan, so we see them more frequently.

Why am I telling you this?  Because this is only one instance in which the actions of one temple member has dramatically changed a life. And it highlights how important the role of the membership chairperson is.  Ellen Morgenstern held that role for many years, and only recently decided to retire.  She did a wonderful job, as many a formerly-new members will acknowledge.  Fran Froehlich has graciously agreed to temporarily hold the position.  So, if you’re interested, here’s a chance to become involved (free training available).  You can become what Marcia was for us – a friendly face in a new place. 

This synagogue is blessed with clergy and congregants who reach out, who welcome, who comfort, who console.  I am proud to be president of this wonderful synagogue.  I follow a long list of terrific temple presidents, many of whom are still members.  You will see us all at the start of the Kol Nidre service, when we each, accompanied by one of the Hebrew school students, march the Torahs in to the sanctuary.  It is a special moment, but only one of many throughout the year.

At this time of year, Ashkenazi Jews say L’shana Tova  Ketiva ve-chatima tovah which translates as "may you be written and sealed for a good year."  The formal Sephardic greeting is Tizku leshanim rabbot, which means "may you merit many years".  Whatever your custom, JoAnn and I wish you a sweet year.  May this synagogue be for you the haven it has been for us.

Fri, June 23 2017 29 Sivan 5777