Joel Kelson to Receive Arnold Award

Joel Kelson
Photo by Perla Kaufman
Written by Marian Schwartz

The Arnold Award, named to honor Rabbi Emeritus Stephen A. Arnold, is presented annually to honor a congregant for outstanding contributions to religious/spiritual life at Vassar Temple, specifically in one or more of the three realms that are described in the Pirke Avot as the foundation of our world: study, worship, and acts of loving kindness. This year’s recipient of the coveted award is Joel Kelson.

Joel is a familiar figure at temple events, most often accompanied by his young children. In this way, he is a great role model not only for his children but for other temple families. As a member of the Ritual Committee, Joel can always be counted on whether it be with technological expertise, musical expertise, knowledge of Hebrew and conducting religious services, or the donation of refreshments to enhance any event. He helps lead summer services, and is bringing the joy of music to temple services year round as chairman of the Music Committee. Joel is also part of the Nachamu (Comforting) Committee, which helps congregants deal with issues surrounding terminal illness, death and mourning. The committee has placed a link to a Nachamu guidebook on the temple web site , to make it available to the wider community. Joel is a constant supporter of all temple social action/community service/tzedakah projects. And in his “spare time”, he ably serves as the temple’s webmaster, helping to foster communication among the congregation, and to share information about temple life with the public on-line.

Come and help honor Joel when he is presented with the Arnold Award Saturday evening, Sept. 20, at 7:30 p.m., during a dessert reception to be held in the Vassar Temple social hall. Following the lovely ritual of havdalah to usher out the sabbath, you are invited to move upstairs for brief commentaries from two congregants, one from the sciences and one from the humanities, on the topic “This I Believe,” to encourage us to reflect on our own guiding values as the New Year begins. The evening will conclude with the traditional s’lichot service (penitential prayers), which will begin at approximately 10pm. The lateness of the hour adds to the mood of quiet and introspec­tion that is central to this observance. Please join us for any or all events of the evening as we, as Jews, begin to prepare spiritually for the upcoming High Holy Days.

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