It hardly seems possible that my two year term as president
is coming to an end.
As I look back on the prior two years, I am very proud of
who we are as a community. We are
proud. We are honest. We are fiscally responsible. We are friendly. We are diverse. We believe in education and
Tikkun Olam and creativity. Some of these are basic Jewish beliefs, handed down
from generation to generation. Others
are uniquely ours, which we have started to teach to our children and
Our synagogue is truly a community, made up of over 550
families who join together in worship, education, philanthropy and social
activities. It thrills me to be at the synagogue on Sunday mornings, eating a
bagel at Tumler and watch the parents and grandparents escort their charges -
our future - to classes and assemblies. It is amazing to see the
multi-generational families who attend the Family Retreat in Oconomowoc. It is
always fascinating to watch the children’s eyes light up as they see the Rabbis
at Purim for the first time and understand who is beneath those costumes. It is
always a pleasure to watch a committee come together to develop a program or a
project – folks who had not known each other before, working as a team to
achieve a goal. As president, I have had
the honor of watching and participating in all of these activities.
But I have not done it alone. Any leader is only as good as the people that
he or she is surrounded by. In this, I
am most appreciative to a number of people who help to maintain our special
place of community – our Kehila Kedusha.
Rabbi Bob, Rabbi Cosnowsky and Anne Stein are unbelievable
partners in the maintenance and growth of our community values. They each devote numerous hours and
significant effort into making our synagogue and religious school the warm,
caring and nationally recognized places that they are. Greg Zelman and Cindy
Michelassi bring vibrant music into our spiritual lives. Rachel Wood works to help our children become
adults in the Jewish world through B’nai Mitzvah preparation. Our teachers give of themselves to ensure
that all of our children are exposed to Jewish ideas and ideals.
Carol Meyer runs the synagogue office with the deft hand
that one would want when maintaining our home. Not just the facilities, but the entire way that we communicate and deal
with the members of our congregational family and our guests. Michele, Mike, Susan, Diane, Herbert and
Eddie each provide that smile and care when dealing with our congregants that
we expect and treasure.
I am very indebted to our vice presidents, Jan Widmaier,
Julie Kalwat, Bruce Beiersdorf and Jacob Margulies for their hard work over the
last 2 years with all of our committees. Dave Wortsman has been a tremendous asset (pun intended) as treasurer in
managing our finances, in a difficult economic environment. Deb Schodrof had a significant task in working
with our families with financial difficulties in a caring manner. Linda Longman and Kathie Bender have
diligently maintained the records of the synagogue as recording
Our committee chairs lead the bulk of the programming and
planning for the synagogue. They are
blessed with excellent organization skills, political skills to encourage and
mediate the discussions that arise and delegation skills to encourage more
congregant volunteers to participate in our programs.
I would also like to recognize my family. Kathy has always been supportive of my taking
on this role, even though it meant missed family dinners, long phone calls,
planning meetings and other assorted interruptions to our family life. Our kids, Eric and Danna have been there for
me as well, as we learned about synagogue leadership together.
And lastly, I would like to thank you – our congregants. Of course, we would not have a congregation
without you. You are the reason that we
can do so much. We are the Reform Jews
of DuPage County. Your participation allows us all to be better.
I have been honored to be able to participate in the
leadership of the synagogue for the past two years. I am very confident that I am leaving synagogue leadership in good hands. Etz Chaim will
be well served by Jan and the incoming Executive Board. t is my hope that we will continue moving
L’Dor v’Dor – from generation to generation and bring our spirit and sense of
community with us.