President’s June 2024 Column

“Looking back … to move forward …”

As I sat in the sanctuary in Temple B’Nai Jeshurun this past Saturday in Des Moines waiting for Max Berger’s (grandson of Barbara & Steve Feller, who are very proud) Bar Mitzvah to start, I couldn’t but help to be overcome by the beauty of the 150-year-old building. The domed roof with a large chandelier hanging down and the stained-glass windows created a beautiful atmosphere to come together and pray. Before the service I spent time opening every door and looking around the Temple. They had a downstairs sanctuary and a smaller sanctuary, too. The layout at Temple Judah is very similar. We should be very proud of our facility!!

Looking back over the last year as president, I am proud of what we have accomplished. We are currently in the middle of a Homeland Security project to update our security systems and make the Temple less vulnerable to an outside threat. This was recommended by the Cedar Rapids Police Department.

I would also like to thank our Rabbi for continuing to be our faith leader, Hebrew school teachers, Religious School staff, library staff, and numerous other committee members and active temple members who continue to help Temple Judah move forward and provide a safe environment for celebrating holidays, weekly prayer, and Jewish education. For those who have not been to a Friday night service lately, I encourage you to come and participate! I would like to also thank the current and incoming board members. It is a mitzvah to have you actively involved and share ideas for the benefit of Temple Judah.

As we wrap up the fiscal year here is a note to the congregation – please keep in mind the history of Temple Judah – how a reform and orthodox congregation combined to build one shul for the benefit of all Jewish people in Cedar Rapids. These leaders, some whom have descendants still in our community, also had the foresight to look into the future and not only build the brick and mortar, but also donate money and set up funds to provide a means of continuing the Jewish community in Cedar Rapids. As we now understand, these past leaders have provided a flame that still burns bright for the future of Temple Judah.

I should also note that the Temple Judah Trust Fund has increased substantially over the past years. Recognition needs to go to the leaders of our community who have overseen this growth.

One thing I always keep in the back of my mind as a member of Temple Judah is we are all one large family. We come together to celebrate wonderful occasions like Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, baby naming’s, conversions, high school graduations and marriages. And we also support those who are ill and sit shiva with our members who have lost loved ones.

Please join the Temple Judah family and do your part and contribute to keeping the flame alive and burning bright. Don’t sit on the outside, looking in. Participate!!

Brian D. Cohen