President's Remarks - Rosh Hashanah 5779/2018

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 11:59am -- emilyo

When Dana and I moved to Indianapolis 17 years ago, I never thought I would be on the Board of Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, let alone its President.  I say this because I did not grow up in Indianapolis, as so many of my predecessors have.  I grew up in a Conservative congregation, and after my Bar Mitzvah was not actively involved in Temple life.  After college I did not affiliate with a congregation but attended High Holiday services with my family in New Jersey. When we married, Dana and I moved from Connecticut to the North Shore of Chicago.  We both agreed that it was important for us to join a congregation.  Dana, who had grown up in a Reform home and congregation, offered to join a Conservative Congregation. I really did not have strong feelings about it.  So, we “Temple Shopped,” among the numerous options of Reform Congregations near our home.  We chose a Congregation where we felt most comfortable, but never really became involved members.  This was where I first came to the realization that Reform Judaism felt, and feels, more relevant and comfortable to me. 

During our first week in Indianapolis Dana and I joined two organizations, IHC and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  Anyone that knows us understands that. It was not a question of “Temple Shopping” here, we knew we wanted to join the Reform Congregation.  Unlike the IMA, for many years we were not involved at IHC, other than the High Holidays and a few Shabbat services.  After going on a Temple mission with Rabbi Adland in 2010, I realized IHC was important to me and needed to be a bigger part of my life.  That year, I put my name forward to be considered for the Board; I was not selected.  I put my name forward again a year later and was asked to join the Board.  Hundreds of members come to services at IHC, why did I ever consider participation on the Board?  I have always been a joiner and held numerous leadership roles in other organizations.  I knew that could not sit on the sideline and complain and kvetch when I thought I could make a difference.  In my typical fashion, I immediately became involved.  Fast forward a few years and here I stand.

The Union for Reform Judaism, sponsors a premier leadership institute, for incoming and new Temple Presidents, called the Schiedt Seminar.  I decided to take advantage of this opportunity last spring.  Hearing from experts in the Reform movement and meeting Presidents from similar sized congregations across North America, was a life changing experience for me.  It allowed me to learn more about myself and how to better work with our clergy, staff, board and other volunteers.  One of my takeaways was the concept of “Sacred Partnership”.  A Sacred Partnership includes:

“A commitment to building and nurturing relationships that elevate the work of leadership to a level of holiness.  Sacred partnerships are built and nurtured through the Jewish values of mutual respect, trust, honesty, listening and communication, transparency, confidentiality, flexibility and reflection.”

My intent is to lead our congregation utilizing the concept of Sacred Partnerships.  Sacred Partnerships should exist among board members, board members with clergy, board members with congregants and my working relationship with the clergy and staff.  I truly believe that by developing Sacred Partnerships throughout IHC we will have a stronger congregation in the future.

IHC has grown over the past year.  It is exciting to walk into the building and see it filled with worshipers, doers and learners all developing a deeper connection to Judaism and to IHC.   I want to thank our clergy and staff for moving us from strength to strength.

Our Early Childhood Center continues to be full and thriving.  We have rolled out a new and innovative religious school program.  It is cutting edge and is unlike the religious school my generation remembers.  Our IFTY and Derech Torah programs continue to flourish, and many of our teens have stepped up to leadership roles on a regional basis.  It is so exciting that IHC can be a part in the nurturing of our next generation.

To better ensure IHC’s long term viability we have separated our Foundation Board from our Temple Board.  We are excited that an independent Foundation will better secure our long-term financial stability, by seeking new growth opportunities.

Our committees continue to work hard to make IHC stronger in all aspects of Jewish life.  A special thank you to the Social Justice Committee.  Through our participation with other community organizations through marches and lobbying, and our community involvement, our voice has been heard as we strive for social justice.  The committee recently made a request that IHC become a “Brit Olam Congregation” which the Board unanimously approved.   We are joining a growing network of Brit Olam congregations, though out North America, working in concert to repair our world.  I am excited that we are publicly reaffirming our commitment to meaningful social justice work, grounded in our sacred and enduring Jewish values. 

Our Caring Community continues to help those in our congregation that need a bit of spiritual support or assistance.  Examples of their efforts include committee members delivering High Holiday Siddurs to individuals not able to attend our services in person.  We hope our friends who could not join us are enjoying this evening’s service on WICR.  For over a year, members of the Committee have also conducted the Remembrance Service on Friday evenings. 

Our Brotherhood, Sisterhood, Indy Chai and LAF provide opportunities for personal engagement with other Temple Members.  In addition, the support they provide the Congregation is instrumental in the life and breadth of IHC.  Thank you to all our volunteers for your on-going commitment.   If you are not presently volunteering, rest assured there is a place for you.

Thank you to the past-presidents of IHC.  You set the stage for everything we are doing today.  I stand on your shoulders and thank you for your support and guidance of me in this role.  

In July, we welcomed the newest member of our clergy team, Cantor Aviva Marer.  Her integration has been seamless.  My thanks to Rabbi Krichiver and Rabbi Fox for welcoming Cantor Marer to IHC.  Rabbis and Cantor, we appreciate everything you do for IHC and our members.  Dan Silien continues to manage the operations of IHC, busily multi-tasking to cover a wide range of responsibilities.  I would like to thank both Dan and his staff for everything they do.

A special thank you to my amazing wife Dana.  I know my term has only just begun, but your support and understanding are so appreciated.  I love you.

As we begin 5779 I hope to meet you, see you at Temple, and work with you.  So please join me, contribute your time and talent, and let’s move forward together, not only for our well-being, but for the well-being of the next generation; L’Dor, V’Dor.  Thank you for your continued investment in Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation.

L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu.