Message from the President
Lief D. Rosenblatt
Cogito Ergo Summertime
The sweet, sweaty, and sultry days of summer lie just ahead. As another school year, fiscal year and, for some, work year draws to its end there is a natural rhythm to it all, and an essential punctuation of our busy lives as we anticipate a summer vacation. This warmest season of the year provides us with the time to do other things; time to get away from it all; time to make a dent in that pile of recommended books; time to be with friends and family in a more relaxed setting; time to travel or perhaps to stay put; time to barbecue; time to swim; time to have fun. The older I get, the more intensely I appreciate that spare time—the time to do whatever we might want to do—is one of life’s greatest treasures, and it is meant to be savored. Many in our Temple Israel community will be lured by the delights of the east end of Long Island. Others literally will head for the hills—the Berkshire Hills. Still others will globetrot to exotic and often unpronounceable destinations far and wide. I, for one, will decamp westward to my home in Santa Fe. Please, if you happen to find yourself within shouting distance do let me know—nothing would make me happier than to be able to entertain Temple Israel friends, and to share with you the pleasures of the Land of Enchantment. The days are warm, the evenings are cool, and the chilies are hot, Hot, HOT!
But wherever we disperse over the coming weeks, we look forward also to our ultimate return home. And for all of us, Temple Israel is part of that feeling of “home”. We are blessed and fortunate to belong to a warm, welcoming, haimisch community. As interesting and vibrant as are our many programs and happenings, my belief is that most of us attend Temple events more because we want to see and spend time with our friends than for any other reason. We feel connected to Temple Israel almost as though we were one large family. Nothing evidences the strength of these bonds more than the countless hours that our members devote, without any recompense, in service to the Temple. The level of volunteerism on our board, on committees, in our schools, and in countless other ad hoc ways reflects the energy, concern and sense of “togetherness” that permeates our extended community. Recently, in preparation for our Annual Gala event (held this year at the Museum of the City of New York) and as well for Mitzvah Day, we had the help of the largest and most all-encompassing groups of volunteers, representing virtually every different TI constituency, which we have ever had.
While we treasure our existing friendships, we are always truly welcoming also to new families and guests. There is a warmth and genuineness at Temple Israel that is special, and that deserves to be celebrated. Newcomers are approached and engaged, not shunned and left isolated. I am always struck by the noteworthy lack of pretension among our congregants. After all, we are a high-powered, high achieving, largely Upper East Side crowd, and yet we retain a down-to-earth unassuming feeling that is authentic. We welcome young and old, those who are new to the area, or those who have lived here for quite some time but have remained unaffiliated, and we welcome families of mixed backgrounds who want to be part of a Jewish community. While our broad goals are to promote Jewish literacy, religious purposefulness and a robust sense of Jewish peoplehood, we meet and greet everyone, whatever his or her background, non-judgmentally and with warmth and sincerity.
Another sign of our Temple community’s strength is the generosity our families have demonstrated through contributions of items, sponsorships of events, and donations of money in support of our schools, our programs, our physical plant, equipment and Temple building, and even of our cemetery among various other needs. Our clergy and staff are simply outstanding, and they work very hard—above and beyond the call of duty—to deliver to every one of us the kind of broad synagogue interactions and experiences that are memorable, meaningful, and life enhancing. As I have said many times before, at Temple Israel we “punch beyond our weight class” when it comes to the variety and quality of our many programs. All of this requires substantial resources, and we are fortunate to be able to depend on and count on the support of an incredibly generous membership, one that is also farsighted and visionary. Our families think of the future, of what our Temple can and should be like in the coming decades, and for the benefit of our next and future generations. As President, I am constantly touched by the concern and support of our members, and I want to thank every one at Temple Israel for both an emotional and a material generosity that inspires and motivates us to work even harder, and to do ever more for our communal betterment. Bolstering each other, taking a mutual interest in strengthening our Temple community, and also reaching out to lend a hand to neighbors in need, is what Jews have done for centuries. Being Jewish is inherently a communal, and not just an individual commitment. At Temple Israel, I am proud to say that we carry on this tradition, and we share a sense of intimacy, togetherness, and community that is very special.
I have always felt that summertime is largely lived in its anticipation. That is to say, by the time summer finally gets here, it is almost over. Psychologically, no other time of the year seems to fly by as quickly. So as we all dream of our summer plans and summer travels with great expectancy, we know that we will be coming home surprisingly soon. But that’s OK. In fact, it is better than OK. When coming home means returning to the company of good friends, reconnecting with a uniquely warm and welcoming family of families, and reestablishing ties to the truly special and wonderful community that we are all part of at Temple Israel, then we are in fact most fortunate. A popular song (well it was popular back in my college days) asks, “Will I see you in September?” In our Temple community the answer is resoundingly, “now there’s something to look forward to with the greatest possible anticipation!”
To all: enjoy a happy, healthy and restorative summer!
Lief D. Rosenblatt