This speech was delivered at Yom Kippur services on Saturday, September 30, 2017.
I am Dan Rosman and I am honored to be the president of the congregation for a second year. I am very fortunate to work with so many dedicated members who serve on the board of directors, as officers of the congregation, and on our 18 standing committees. I am always amazed by how many members give so freely of their time and energy to our shul. I cannot thank them enough for their devotion to our synagogue. And for those of you who would like to get more involved, I am just a quick phone call or email away.
But I would truly be remiss if I did not mention the glue that holds this place together: our amazing professional and educational staff. We have been so fortunate to have a group that works so well together.
Our preschool is thriving under the leadership of Alexis Joyce where we had to turn away families this year due to a lack of space. If you ever want to get a taste of the preschool, drop by around noon on a Friday and you will feel so much nachas as you watch our preschoolers welcome in Shabbat.
On the religious school front, we are incredibly lucky to have Laura Naide as Director of Religious Education. She ensures day in and day out that our children are receiving the highest quality education as well as making sure that we have a robust adult education program. If you want to see the vibrancy of our religious school, make sure you stop by for a Sunday morning minyan where our children do a fabulous job leading different parts of the service. And I strongly encourage you to check out our Adult Education programming that will be starting after the high holidays – I know you will find it worth your while.
Having worked with Marcy Burka for many years as Treasurer, I can assure you that we are in the best of hands from a financial perspective. And if that were not enough, she has the herculean task of ensuring that the building is in tip top shape.
And this place could not function without all of Edgar Rendon’s tireless work. He treats this place like his own home and works so diligently to ensure that our shul is well taken care of.
As the first person you see as you walk into the office, Marni Corsaro always has a smile on her face even while juggling a phone call, buzzing someone in the front door and getting out important communications to the membership. She creates such a warm and welcoming environment for us all.
And, of course, our spiritual guiding light, Rabbi Lia Bass. From presiding over lifecycle events to her teaching and mentoring of children and adults alike, her religious and spiritual guidance is a large part of what makes Etz Hayim so special.
There is so much that goes on behind the scenes to keep the shul up and running. We can honestly never thank our staff enough for all that they do. So when you get a chance, please let them know how much you appreciate all their efforts that they contribute to Etz Hayim.
As I mentioned at the beginning, there are many active committees at our shul. I would really like to encourage all our members to take a look at the list of committees and see how they can get involved. Our synagogue would not function without the amazing group of volunteers that contribute in ways that are too numerous to count.
For those non-members here today, I would encourage you to join us for Shabbat services or one of our upcoming events like our Sukkot Potluck next week, and I guarantee that you will enjoy listening to the Klezmer band during our Simchat Torah celebration at 6pm on October 12.
As I was preparing to write my appeal this year, I started brainstorming about what Etz Hayim means to me.
- It is a place where I learn and grow as a Jewish adult.
- It is a place where my children are formulating their Jewish identity.
- It is a place where I continue to develop my spiritual relationship with Hashem.
- It is a place that provides a network of support during difficult times.
- It is a place where I get many opportunities to help others and perform Tikkun Olam.
- It is a place where Elisa and I can celebrate lifecycle events with friends and family.
- It a place where Elisa and I have met amazing people and developed lifelong friendships.
- At its core, it is the one place outside my home where I feel most comfortable.
I believe that synagogues are and will continue to be the center of Jewish life in America. During these times where we are seeing a resurgence of anti-Semitism, it is all the more important that we sustain the only synagogue in Arlington as a center for Jewish life. I hope that everyone here will respond to my appeal because you value our congregation and its precious place in our lives and are ready to honor those that came before us.
There is a saying in the Talmud: “As my parents planted for me before I was born, so do I plant for those who will come after me.”
More than 75 years ago, during World War II, a small group of Jews in Arlington made a commitment to start a synagogue above a shoe store in Clarendon. They poured their time, energy, and resources into creating what is now Congregation Etz Hayim. Over the course of decades, many others have given of themselves in order to ensure that our congregation would be a Kehillah K’doshah, a sacred community filled with prayer, study, good deeds, and healing.
We who gather here this Yom Kippur morning have been the beneficiaries of those who came before us. We have the opportunity to sow seeds that will bear fruit for generations to come. I am hopeful that you will all choose to make a commitment that expresses your gratitude and generosity and will allow Etz Hayim to perpetuate Jewish values, educate our children and grandchildren, and secure our Jewish future.
I challenge those that have given in the past to increase your pledge and those that have never given before to make a pledge today, in essence paying it forward as our founders did when they established this shul in 1940.
I thank you in advance for your commitment to Etz Hayim. G’mar Hatimah Tovah!
President, Congregation Etz Hayim