President Lisa-Sue Quackenbush’s RH Address, 2022

President’s Rosh Hashanah Address 2022

In the September Bulletin, I wrote about being present. I was referring to being mindful, focussed, and in the moment. This is one definition of being present and certainly an important one, especially during these High Holy Days. Introspection, mindfulness and truly sitting within yourself helps you really avail yourself to the liturgy and meaningfulness of the Holidays. And while I believe this to be an essential process to experience these Days of Awe, I also believe that being present can have another meaning.

Being present can include actively engaging, embracing and availing yourself to connect to what’s around you. In many ways, you are already present. You are here (either in the Sanctuary or via Zoom). You have paid your yearly dues. And while we are incredibly happy and appreciative to see you physically in our midst and to receive your very necessary, monetary support, is that enough for you? Is that enough for us?

Please do not misunderstand my intentions here. My appreciation of your support of Vassar Temple is truly heartfelt and sincere. My question for you is this, are the membership dues that you pay worth simply receiving the monthly Bulletin and attending a couple services a year? Could you be getting more bang for your buck? I think so. And while monetary support is what pays the bills, it’s not the only thing that makes a Congregation. I send my payments and donations in because it’s necessary and certainty commits me financially. I serve this Congregation because it fills my heart and soul and connects me to people. Ultimately people are what make this the warm and engaging Congregation that Vassar Temple is known for. I believe that you get back what you put in and more at Vassar Temple. It is my honor and pleasure to give you some examples that can help you “stretch” and become more present, engaged and connected at Vassar Temple.

Let me start off by inviting you to join (if you are not already a member) our very active and dedicated Brotherhood and Sisterhood. The contributions of these groups to so many aspects of Temple Life cannot be overstated. We truly could not function without their diverse, physical and long-time financial support. We welcome your membership and participation in these essential auxiliaries.

As far as committees go, let’s first look at the physicality of our Temple. As any homeowner knows, no matter how much future planning is involved, there are always projects and surprises that pop up and must be addressed. We have a House Committee that assesses this building on a regular basis for safety needs, maintenance and upkeep. We have a Technology Committee that ensures we can have both in person. remote, and hybrid Services, meetings and educational experiences that reach as many congregants as possible. We have a Security Committee and a separate Health and Safety Committee. Both of these committees strive to always be at least one step ahead, in mitigating congregation and community safety and health concerns for our Congregants. We have a Robust Cemetery Committee that is in the process of updating and clarifying our policies as well as ensuring the upkeep of the final resting place of our Congregants, in our cemeteries.

We have both vibrant Ritual and Music Committees who are tasked with making our multitude of Services varied, joyful, spiritual, and continue to meet the changing needs and wants of our Congregation. We have very active Adult Education and Religious School Committees who work hard at stimulating both the younger and older minds, and developing and bringing in topical and interesting programs for this community.

We have a warm and wonderful Reyut Committee who reach out into the Congregation when anyone might have a need. They bring food to the homebound and offer rides for people to various appointments.

It’s not surprising that We have a multitude of Committees dealing with Finances at our Temple. This is such challenging work. We have a General Finance Committee, Fundraising Committee, Endowment Committee, Investment Committee, and Scrip. These committees are made up of great collaborative and financially conscious people who find a multitude of ways to not only maintain, but to grow our money and investments at Vassar Temple.

We have incredibly energetic Social Action and Civic Engagement Committees that not only boost up and support our local communities with multiple and varied food drives, and donations of health and safety supplies for the homeless, but support our society as a whole with programs like Reclaim Our Vote and collections for various global disasters, which unfortunately happen way too often.

We have hard working and dedicated Membership and Outreach Committees that are always making new connections and working to expand and invite families to join our growing and diverse Congregation.

We have had a Refugee Resettlement Committee that has helped a few families over the years acclimate to their new lives in America, most recently working with HIAS and MHIA to resettle an Afghan family.

We will soon be assembling a House Green Committee that will assist Vassar Temple in participating in productive and concrete ways so that we can make a smaller carbon footprint in this community and the world. We will also be assembling a 175th Anniversary Year Committee to begin orchestrating and planning all the ways we will celebrate Vassar Temple’s 175th year (which is next year).

We have a Publicity Committee that gets the word out there to local publications and Social Media to keep people engaged and informed as to who we are and what we do as a Congregation. We have a Nominating Committee that looks into our Congregation every year to entice and invite members to become leaders in governance of our Temple.

This Congregation has quite a few, very active leaders, whom I deeply respect and enjoy working with side-by-side. And while the focused work and value of their efforts cannot be denied, don’t be fooled by what you see. They are not exclusively running the Temple. Committees are working relentlessly on pivoting and tweaking goals and ways to achieve them as our society and community seems to continually change. In the same way that there is a driver (our leaders) steering the car. The car does not go anywhere if all systems (active committees) are not primed, in place and working to full capacity.

I have just named over 25 active and necessary committees at Vassar Temple. I’m sure I will hear from those I inadvertently left out. I’m sorry if I missed you in this very expansive list. I’m hoping that I have enlightened you to the many ways in which you can be present, engaged, and connected. If there is a relevant committee that you can think of that we don’t have, please let me know. We will initiate one. Some of these committees are large. Some are small. Most committees meet once every month or two. Some meet more often. Some meet less. Many committees meet via Zoom. Some meet in person and some are hybrid. All committees welcome new members. Committees should represent our membership. That only happens if you join. What committee speaks to you? Where do your strengths and interests lie? How can we help you get more bang for your buck at Vassar Temple? Most importantly, how can we assist you in becoming more engaged, connected and present in Temple life? In the coming days and weeks, please reach out to me, any member of the Board or the Office and ask questions. Attend a Committee meeting or two. See what works and feels right for you.

I can tell you, from personal experience, that I have gotten to know so many members just by serving and working side-by-side on various committees over the years. Friendships and special bonds are formed from working on common interests and goals. There is truly a camaraderie and family feeling here when it comes to Vassar Temple. Working alongside one another for a common cause enhances the feeling of belonging to something bigger than ourselves and empowers us to feel useful, connected and truly being engaged in the future of Vassar Temple.

Merriam- Webster defines the word Committee as: a body of persons delegated to consider, investigate, take action on, or report in some manner. I would offer my own take on this by saying that it is a group of individuals coming together in collaboration for a common goal. I am a firm believer in both of the sayings; “Many hands make light work.” and “We only reap what we sow.” In this year 5783, may we join hands and minds and come together and work towards a common goal. May we work together to plant the seeds of our future here at Vassar Temple. I look forward to collaborating alongside you in making the commitment to be just a little more engaged, connected and present in Temple life. I am certain that like myself, you’ll be glad you did.
L’Shanah Tovah.

Lisa-Sue Quackenbush
Vassar Temple


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