Welcoming our new members 10/29/21 -remarks by Vivian Garber

Shabbat Shalom.

When Rabbi asked me to speak about my experiences at Vassar Temple, I initially said no because I am not comfortable speaking in public. However, as I thought about how important Vassar Temple has been to me and my family over the many years that we have been members, I decided to push beyond my comfort zone and share with you my life at Vassar Temple.

My first experience with Vassar was more than 40 years ago when Ed and I were invited to a Bat Mitzvah here. At the time, we were unaffiliated and were trying to decide where to join. We had a young son and wanted him to learn about Judaism and have the experience of being a part of a Jewish community. We walked into the sanctuary that day, experienced the warmth of the congregation and immediately felt at home.

My husband, Ed, had never been a member of a synagogue until we moved to Poughkeepsie. He was so touched by the Vassar community that he decided that he had to get involved. Over the years, he has served on many committees including nomination committee, House committee and finance committee. He also served on the board eventually getting elected President.    

Vassar Temple also became a very integral part of our son’s life. He attended religious school, was Bar Mitzvahed and confirmed here, tutored other children for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, participated in the youth group taking leadership roles and even lead services during the summer. Because of what he learned and absorbed here at Vassar, he now shares that with his synagogue in MA even joining the board.

Vassar Temple has been so much to us. It has been our second home. We have worshipped together, we have laughed and celebrated together and, yes, we have cried together and held each other up in difficult times.  The Vassar community is vibrant and caring offering a multitude of opportunities to its members as well as to our neighbors outside of the Vassar community. We help to feed the hungry, offer assistance to the local schools both in the classrooms and by helping to provide needed supplies, volunteer our time where needed in the community and  join together with other organizations to help the disenfranchised. I could not be prouder of the members of our congregation who so graciously give of their time and resources to others without looking for recognition or praise.

However, you need not leave the confines of Vassar Temple to experience the caring and amazing empathy that is what the Vassar family offers. There is always food in our freezer waiting to be delivered to a member of our Vassar family when needed. Hamentaschen during Passover is delivered to those who are shut-in, calls and visits are made to those who are ill or suffering from a loss. When I broke my ankle and could not put any weight on that leg, I was the recipient of so much good food. That was especially appreciated by Ed since cooking is not one of his skills.

Besides serving the spiritual and material needs of our congregation, there are lots of interesting courses and programs to stimulate our minds from book club to cultural events and study groups. There is always something of interest in which to participate.

I am so very proud to be a part of the wonderful Vassar Temple family. And, family, is what we are. I am deeply thankful for all of the wonderful friendships that I have made. Since Ed and I have no family locally, our friends have become our family and we have been blessed.

To our new members, I say welcome. I encourage you to become fully involved in our community. You will not regret it. I truly hope that Vassar Temple becomes to you what it has been to my family. 

Thank you.

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