This Is Not Goodbye

This article marks my last one as your Vassar Temple President. This isn’t goodbye, it’s thank you!

Now I move into the position of Immediate Past President. Another two year term. I will continue to serve our beloved temple in a support role to our incoming President Mark Metzger.

Everything we have accomplished, we accomplished together – fellow officers and trustees, committee chairs, volunteers, donors, temple staff, past presidents, rabbi’s, members and friends. A very special thanks to those who were there for me when I called for advice or to vent, and who had my back at times I may not even know about. Thank you Mary Ritter, my greatest supporter. Now more of you know how special she is.

I accepted the temple presidency for four reasons:
1. A temple serves an essential role in maintaining a Jewish community and a Jewish community is critical to the survival of the Jewish culture and people.

2. At the time I was asked to serve, Vassar Temple had fundamental problems and was facing large challenges that could threaten its future.

3. To help set an agenda that would make Vassar Temple better.

4. A mitzvah is not just a deed, it is a commandment. My middle name is Jonah, and the story taught me that ultimately, we must say Hineni.

In Isaiah 42:6 we read “We are a light unto the nations.” And as a temple board, we need to be a light, so our temple will be a light in our community. As president I operated with the following principles:

Discern, Decide, and Do – There were many important things I wanted to accomplish during my term. We had an action oriented board and I commend the team on its willingness to face issues and choices head on.

Onward & Upward – As a “Reform” congregation, one of our institution’s strengths is its ability to adapt. Because change is not easy, we tend to find ourselves in a rut. I give the board credit for recognizing the difference between traditions worth holding onto, and having the willingness to embrace a positive vision.

Kindness and Respect – I am proud of the way our board meetings were conducted. Everyone was able to be heard. No shame. People were genuinely nice. A positive and supportive board atmosphere brings out honesty and participation.

Being a temple president is a great responsibility and a wonderful honor. But I liked to look at it as a privilege – as a gift. I am grateful. It has been satisfyingly to be part of a team with a shared hope and desire to make Vassar Temple a better temple. I felt rewarded whenever I saw you, fellow members, experiencing joy or taking comfort or personal enrichment from your relationship with Vassar Temple.

Over the last several years we’ve strengthened Vassar Temple for the growth ahead. Moving forward, we must all come together as a team to create the energy which WILL attract others in the community who can benefit from a relationship with our Jewish village – our temple’s members, programming, ritual, pastoral care, education, and the rich cultural history of Judaism and the values we stand for.

There is joy in being part of something on a mission. Now, team spirit will take Vassar Temple to greater heights, provided it is guided by the Torah, the prophets, our culture’s many sages past and present, and the special volunteers who have served Vassar Temple over the years.

It takes a village, a shtetl, to maintain the Jewish people in order for us to help heal the word. “Ma tovu ohalecha Yaakov, mishk’notecha Yisrael,” we read from the book of Numbers in the Torah. (Num. 24:5). “How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!” My wish from day one to today, is for the community and all of us to say, how lovely is Vassar Temple!

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