President’s September 2019 Column

Installation Speech
August 16, 2019

I want to thank those board members and especially temple presidents that proceeded me. Thank you Jillian, Nancy, Michael, Steve & Barb, and my wife Diane, all whom have lead this congregation. Over the last years I have not been involved with our board or temple operations. This burden fell to many here tonight. Thank you for carrying this Ner Tamid. With the help of our board and Trustees we will continue to lead our temple. There is a legacy as we can see in this synagogue. I also have the models of my grandfather and father who served this congregation honorably.   

I have a question for us to ponder, “is it Numbers or is it Genesis”?

With numbers we base things on attendance or the number of family units that are members. We should acknowledge this congregation is shrinking, by the numbers. And if you are one that remembers the old days as better and more robust – this is your perspective and I understand this feeling, but I will not agree to share it. Each generation has its challenges and rewards of their times. 

“Is it about Numbers or Genesis”?

In the book of Numbers, we were a people that wandered in a desert in search of a home. Is this the Jewish life you seek? To live to seek a home to desire larger numbers, such a goal can leave you rather wanting and thirsty. 

There are many Jews who go through the motions, who perform the acts of prayer, who come every year to the holidays and at times may have felt, as I, what is this all for? Tonight, I will not address this question nor even expand on my own personal thoughts. But, it’s ok to acknowledge it, and know you are not alone. 

There are many who over the years do truly feel a sense of purpose, a sense of tradition, a sense of family, a sense of the profound – as when a loved one passes. This temple organization and community family are here to share experiences. All these thoughts and feelings from joy, transcendence and doubt are capable of being felt within one person, in one evening here at Temple. I have, what about you?

If we measure our success by the numbers we may create an unnecessary sense of not accomplishing some ideal, instead I ask that we focus on the very idea of what we are seeking for us and for others, a sense of reflection, a sense of joy for those celebrating a happy occasion, a sense of empathy for those going through tough times. All this is also possible.

The book of Numbers is about us wandering, let us not do this. 

On the other hand, Genesis is about the very idea of creation. That anything is possible, something from void. It is within Genesis that the world is formed. Man and woman are made. The Jewish people identified and linked to this G-d of Genesis. Good and evil are put before us, and we are asked to protect that which is sacred – some see this that the Jewish people were the original green, earth-loving people. Philosophers, such as Maimonides, were keen on this notion that logic, science and protection of nature are very much a part of the Jewish experience. 

Numbers or Genesis? Wandering and judging based on attendance or creation and to protect that which we value?

It is traditional that the new President may impart a sense of goals, needs or desired accomplishments to the community at this time. I want to list some of these items. It is not meant to be all inclusive or in any order of priority. Most all these will take multi-years to fully complete. 

  • Security
    • Physical 
    • Training / drill on ALICE
    • Check & Balance with procedures of money matters – 3rd party engagements 
  • Sustainability
    • Financial – Let us not drain the source as when a well goes dry from overuse
      • Transparency of transactions and Trust funds
  • Infrastructure
    • Parking Lots / Walk crack repair
    • Glass Structures
    • Energy Savings and/or generation 
    • Secure safe entrances
    • Sanctuary space that offers a conforming atmosphere
    • Repair of wood structures in need to surface protection
  • Community
    • All of us continue to give the time and treasure to this community in a way we are able and desire
    • All can practice the form of Judaism that adds meaning
    • Continued quality of programs and services – no matter the size
    • Cherish a Rabbi that is responsive to community needs
    • Respect offered to and from our members to one another
    • Aspirational in our desire to connect to the larger community

The idea of Genesis is about creation, but it is also about protecting that which we cherish. Let us protect this temple, the institution, the philosophy of being open to the new, welcoming the stranger, respect for our traditions and the people that helped usher us to this point in history. Let us also protect this building, our property (infrastructure), and resources that allow us to continue daily operations.

Thank you for your involvement with this temple. Temple is ours to serve, temple is here to serve you and your family. I am so grateful this small community can continue to have a thriving synagogue. Genesis can occur within us each day. Thank you for the trust you have placed in me and our Board and Trustees.

Robert Becker