President’s page

Excerpt of President’s Comments, Rosh Hashanah 5778

Excerpt of President’s Comments, Rosh Hashanah 5778

5777: what a year at TE, with weekly services, Mussar, scholars in residence. Our TE religious school is thriving. Our membership is growing. Tikkun Olam projects supporting our greater community. Our grounds and gardens have never been more beautiful. Our Caring Community committee works tirelessly to offer outreach and support. We have an active Mens … Continue reading “Excerpt of President’s Comments, Rosh Hashanah 5778”

Days of Awe on the horizon.

Days of Awe on the horizon.

My first summer as TE’s president has been relatively quiet. School is not in session, summertime services have been beautifully planned and led by fellow congregants, and Rabbi Farbman and the Spain travelers have returned from what they say was a fabulous trip.  I am acutely aware, however, that these lazy, crazy days of summer … Continue reading “Days of Awe on the horizon.”

First Days as President

First Days as President

I started my role as president of Temple Emanuel on July 1st. It seems to me a large and forbidding task; the little voice on my shoulder is saying, “Don’t screw it up! We have a beautiful community, an inspirational rabbi, a rich tradition, and a future full of promise… if you don’t screw it … Continue reading “First Days as President”

TE Annual Meeting of Members June 11 at 10 am

TE Annual Meeting of Members June 11 at 10 am

The annual meeting of the membership of TE will take place on Sunday, June 11 at 10 am. There will be coffee and bagels at 9:30 am. The membership will vote on the officers and directors for the fiscal year 2017-2018 and for the TE fiscal budget for 2017-2018.

Change, Commitment & Continuity—A Tale in 3 parts. Part 3: L’dor v’dor

Change, Commitment & Continuity—A Tale in 3 parts. Part 3: L’dor v’dor

  Change:  Amazingly, this is my last column as I finish my term as President at Temple Emanuel.  It has been a privilege to serve, and moreover, to have one’s service accepted. I am humbly grateful to Temple Emanuel for the sacred opportunity to have helped lead TE over the last three years. In addition, … Continue reading “Change, Commitment & Continuity—A Tale in 3 parts. Part 3: L’dor v’dor”

Change, Commitment & Continuity—A Tale in Three Parts. Part 2.

Change, Commitment & Continuity—A Tale in Three Parts. Part 2.

  Change:  There could be little doubt that we are in a time of change (no matter what your political sentiment) and that change can be unsettling. I find that when things are very far out of my control or are difficult or troubling that by acting on a very small, local level it is … Continue reading “Change, Commitment & Continuity—A Tale in Three Parts. Part 2.”

Change, Commitment, & Continuity

Change, Commitment, & Continuity

A Tale in Three Parts Part 1 CHANGE: Remember, the first 7:30pm service at TE will be on January 20, 2017.  The Family Service remains at 6:30pm on the first Friday of each month, and on January 13th we have a special Martin Luther King Service at Mishkan Israel at 7:30pm.  At the end of … Continue reading “Change, Commitment, & Continuity”

The Times They Are A-changin’

The Times They Are A-changin’

In 1963, songwriter Bob Dylan wrote, “the times they are a-changin.” For Temple Emanuel this is true in more ways than one! Daylight Savings will soon end; we will have a new President in the White House; and the results of the TE Service time survey are in and are being acted upon. Whether or … Continue reading “The Times They Are A-changin’”

Belonging

Belonging

Why belong? If you are reading this, I am probably already “preaching to the choir” as they say. Belonging to a synagogue community allows an individual to be enfolded in a group that is ready to celebrate and honor life cycle events together. It is a place where some of our “longings” can be met: … Continue reading “Belonging”

Gratitude, Again

Gratitude, Again

I haven’t mentioned Mussar practice in months….it seems like it is time to begin again. Repetition is one of the essential parts of this practice. You must identify traits you want to work on and then revisit them again and again. Although I am always grateful to TE, the end of the year seems like … Continue reading “Gratitude, Again”

Joy Abounds

Joy Abounds

Spring is a time of growth, celebrations, graduations, and special recognition. By the time this Shofar reaches you, the spring flowers will be in their last beautiful display and TE will be in the middle of its’ b’nai mitzvah season. We have had the joyous celebrations of the Feuerstein and Ariker families thus far and … Continue reading “Joy Abounds”

Construction-Demolition-Reconstruction

Construction-Demolition-Reconstruction

Judaism is wonderful at celebrating life cycle events and marking the passage of time. By the time you are reading this column, the House will have finally been taken down and the area filled in and graded. Yes, this project ran into a few road-bumps but it is finally done. So, (drumroll) this officially ends … Continue reading “Construction-Demolition-Reconstruction”

The Board is Never Bored

The Board is Never Bored

One of my favorite jobs as President is to work with our Board and encourage conversations that help TE move forward. The Board’s responsibility is to oversee TE’s strategic and financial policy, develop funds for the organization, and advocate for the organization.  I thought I would share many of the significant issues that have been … Continue reading “The Board is Never Bored”

5776

5776

Throughout the last year I have written about the Mussar traits of enthusiasm, faith, joy, order, hesed, strength, responsibility, gratitude and awe as I feel they have related to our community. In Mussar practice each trait is concentrated on for a fixed period of time and then revisited to work on again and again. So … Continue reading “5776”

Awe – “Yirah”

Awe – “Yirah”

  At this time of the year, we are in the midst of the Days of Awe. This is a particularly appropriate time to think about this Mussar trait in relationship to our community. So, have you noticed what has happened at TE in the last year? I believe it is nothing short of awesome. … Continue reading “Awe – “Yirah””

Seder – Order

Seder – Order

Summer 2015 “First a person should put his house together, then his town, then the world.” (Rabbi Israel Salanter, founder of Mussar)   The word for order – seder – shows up frequently in Jewish tradition. It is the name given to the evening ritual meal on Passover. It is also the root of the … Continue reading “Seder – Order”

Faith

Faith

“Emunah” It seems that discussing a trait like “Faith” with a faith community should be a straight forward task. But in fact, I have had some difficulty.  This is partly because the topic of faith seems to me to be more in the Rabbi’s corner and not in the President’s domain and partly because as … Continue reading “Faith”

Responsibility – Achrayut

Responsibility – Achrayut

TE Goes Green (or is at least trying) “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it “,Pirkei Avot 2:2 As Jews we are asked to live lives of responsibility, whether for our families, our business, our culture or our people. However, responsibility in current society has … Continue reading “Responsibility – Achrayut”

Loving-Kindness

Loving-Kindness

Chesed “Do justice, love loving-kindness, walk humbly with God”, Micah 6:8 This month’s trait of “loving kindness” describes TE so well that it probably doesn’t need to be improved, but only commented upon. Jewish tradition elevates deeds of loving-kindness to the highest possible rank among the soul traits. While only some problems have solutions, all … Continue reading “Loving-Kindness”

Strength—Gevurah

Strength—Gevurah

“Hazak Hazak V’nit Hazek” “Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened” This is the phrase we say when we reach the end of each book in the Torah. It is also this month’s Mussar trait. What is strength? Some definitions include: endurance, resistance, capacity for exertion, power, force, might, vigor, potency, energy or … Continue reading “Strength—Gevurah”

Joy/”Simcha”

Joy/”Simcha”

“Real joy comes not from ease or riches, or from the praise of man, but from doing something worthwhile.” — Sir Wilfred Grenfell (1865-1940), English medical missionary   January’s trait is “joy”.  Amazingly when one starts to look into this character trait, Christian wisdom literature seems to have more to say than the Jewish view.  … Continue reading “Joy/”Simcha””

ENTHUSIASM

ENTHUSIASM

“If not now, when” —Pirkei Avot Now, anyone who knows me at all has likened me to the “Energizer Bunny” of battery fame. So, I believe I am in a good position to discuss this trait. Enthusiasm in Mussar tradition speaks to spiritual energy. It says that enthusiasm is the foundation of all the traits. … Continue reading “ENTHUSIASM”

GRATITUDE

GRATITUDE

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” —Max Planck Discussing gratitude in November is really a “batting practice fastball” as they say in baseball. After all, it is the month of our most cherished national holiday, Thanksgiving. For Jews, gratitude isn’t something for just once a year; … Continue reading “GRATITUDE”

Mussar and TE

Mussar and TE

Now, I am neither a Rabbi nor a scholar but I do try to think (contrary to what you may have heard about surgeons). A path suggested by our recent Scholar in Residence, Rabbi  Marcia Plumb struck a familiar chord in me. She discussed how Mussar teachings can be used to create a sense of … Continue reading “Mussar and TE”

NEW YEAR MUSINGS

NEW YEAR MUSINGS

It is hard to believe that fall is here and that the Holy Days are around the corner. This is a time of new beginnings and contemplating where we might have “missed the mark.” It is a time of reflecting what we might do better in the up-coming year. As we begin 5775, I am … Continue reading “NEW YEAR MUSINGS”

THE PRESIDENT’S COLUMN (Hearth, home, humanity, health, happiness)

The month of December carries many seasonal images for those of us living in Connecticut.  Thanksgiving has passed and so, this year, has Chanukah!  (That’s a little hard to accept!)  I hope that you had a chance to share some holiday festivities with family and friends, from near and far.  The warmth and glow that … Continue reading “THE PRESIDENT’S COLUMN (Hearth, home, humanity, health, happiness)”

President’s Column (Fortified by great support!)

President’s Column (Fortified by great support!)

By Bruce Spiewak, Temple Emanuel President October, 2013 Since my last column, the Temple Emanuel Community has begun the New Year of 5774 with incredible participation and cooperation in the preparation and carrying out of the High Holiday events, which crept up quickly after the summer hiatus. As I write this column we have received our new TE … Continue reading “President’s Column (Fortified by great support!)”

President’s Column (Maybe short, but well braced)

President’s Column (Maybe short, but well braced)

Summer, 2013 By Bruce Spiewak, Temple Emanuel President This is a combined summer column / edition of the Shofar, so we need to consolidate space a little.   (That’s the excuse for a shorter than normal column!) It has been about a year since I began serving our Congregation as President and I have some important … Continue reading “President’s Column (Maybe short, but well braced)”

President’s Column (Repair, Renew, Restore, Reconstruct, Reconsider, Review, Revise, Reevaluate)

President’s Column (Repair, Renew, Restore, Reconstruct, Reconsider, Review, Revise, Reevaluate)

 Definition:  “REPAIR. The reconstruction or renewal of any part of an existing building for the purpose of its maintenance.”  This is a technical definition as it applies to buildings under the CT State Building Code. Tikkun olam (Hebrew: (תיקון עולם or תקון עולם‎) is a Hebrew phrase that means “repairing the world” (or “healing the … Continue reading “President’s Column (Repair, Renew, Restore, Reconstruct, Reconsider, Review, Revise, Reevaluate)”

President’s Column (This one may be long, but it demonstrates stability!) April, 2013 By Bruce Spiewak, Temple Emanuel President

President’s Column (This one may be long, but it demonstrates stability!) April, 2013 By Bruce Spiewak, Temple Emanuel President

As predicted last month, the TE Erev Purim and Adult Purim Party and the Purim for Kids of All Ages at the end of February were well attended events with lots of enjoyable performances and participation by TE members and friends.  Thanks to all who helped organize, arrange and produce these activities.  It was a … Continue reading “President’s Column (This one may be long, but it demonstrates stability!) April, 2013 By Bruce Spiewak, Temple Emanuel President”

President’s Column (This one’s fortified!) March, 2013 By Bruce Spiewak, Temple Emanuel President

President’s Column (This one’s fortified!) March, 2013 By Bruce Spiewak, Temple Emanuel President

February was a month fraught with fabulous functions and events that filled the foundations of Temple Emanuel with fun-filled fortifications!  (Say that quickly three times.)  On February 4, I attended a  Presidents’ Dinner in Fairfield CT, organized by Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell of the URJ.  It was a networking meeting to get to know, face … Continue reading “President’s Column (This one’s fortified!) March, 2013 By Bruce Spiewak, Temple Emanuel President”

February President’s Column (This one’s getting its foundations strengthened!)

February President’s Column (This one’s getting its foundations strengthened!)

A lot of exciting and stimulating events have been happening at TE and in our community in the last month.  I’ll try to give you some highlights here, but cannot include everything. Aside from the usual Family Shabbat Friday evening service at the beginning of January, we had our “New” Shabbat Morning Torah Service.  This … Continue reading “February President’s Column (This one’s getting its foundations strengthened!)”

President’s Column (This One’s Composite!)

President’s Column (This One’s Composite!)

“Welcome! Temple Emanuel is a warm, caring and open community of approximately 160 households. As a small Reform synagogue, our members have the opportunity to know one another and have meaningful input into how our synagogue operates. Temple Emanuel is a participatory, diverse, non-judgmental and intellectually vibrant congregation. Our membership comes from many towns in … Continue reading “President’s Column (This One’s Composite!)”

President’s Column (This One’s Reinforced!) by Bruce Spiewak

President’s Column (This One’s Reinforced!) by Bruce Spiewak

This month I will share with you a report on some important events, concepts, goals, and directions for TE. As you know, our synagogue is generally managed by our Board of Directors and Officers. There are various standing committees as well as some special committees, which are all supervised and directed by the Board. Based … Continue reading “President’s Column (This One’s Reinforced!) by Bruce Spiewak”

President’s Column (This One’s Braced!) by Bruce Spiewak

President’s Column (This One’s Braced!) by Bruce Spiewak

As I write this article for the October Shofar, it is early/mid-September, and I recently attended the Annual New Haven Area Reform Selichot Service at Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden. There, Rabbi Brockman, Cantor Giglio, and the CMI Chorale were joined by the rabbis, cantors, cantorial soloists, and choirs from the other five participating congregations … Continue reading “President’s Column (This One’s Braced!) by Bruce Spiewak”

President’s Column (This One’s Load-Bearing!) by Bruce Spiewak

President’s Column (This One’s Load-Bearing!) by Bruce Spiewak

We’ve made it successfully through the wonderful events of August, culminating in the TE Tag Sale. Whew!!!! We even continued to function well despite the various vacation schedules of our Rabbi, Office Administrator and many of us congregants, who have asked others to “cover” while we are away. I have become increasingly aware of the … Continue reading “President’s Column (This One’s Load-Bearing!) by Bruce Spiewak”

PRESIDENT’s COLUMN August 2012 (This one’sTuscan!)

PRESIDENT’s COLUMN August 2012 (This one’sTuscan!)

Now that the excitement of the past months’ events has settled down a little bit, it’s time to evaluate once more how we can simplify and clarify our lives and their meaning, and how we can best incorporate our relationship with the Temple Emanuel Community into our lives.  To paraphrase a much wiser and more … Continue reading “PRESIDENT’s COLUMN August 2012 (This one’sTuscan!)”

My First Column (Is it Doric, Ionic or Corinthian?) By Bruce Spiewak, Temple Emanuel President

My First Column (Is it Doric, Ionic or Corinthian?) By Bruce Spiewak, Temple Emanuel President

For the micro and the macro families of the Temple Emanuel Community, this certainly has been a season filled with festive events and new beginnings.  We have collectively celebrated our first 50 years as a congregation, and at the same time, we welcome the beginning of the next half century, with all of the excitement, … Continue reading “My First Column (Is it Doric, Ionic or Corinthian?) By Bruce Spiewak, Temple Emanuel President”

IT'S HERE!

It’s here. Finally. 5772. For once the event, or should I say events, will live up to the hype. No disappointment here like Geraldo Rivera had when he opened Al Capone’s vault; no trace of John Lackey, A.J. Burnett or Jason Bay here; likewise no needless worry about a YT2k Bug. Temple Emanuel’s 50th Anniversary … Continue reading “IT'S HERE!”

Getting better…

I’ve got to admit it’s getting better… If you were around Temple Emanuel this August, you couldn’t have missed all the renovations. Floors in the Social Hall and swing space were being removed and then replaced with very attractive tiles. The ceilings of those rooms were being painted and a new roof was put on … Continue reading “Getting better…”

President’s End-of-year update

By now, hopefully everybody has heard that the year 2012 has special meaning to the Temple Emanuel community — we turn 50. We will be ending our first half century on a positive note — membership is increasing — since the beginning of our fiscal year (July 1, 2010) we have gained 17 new families. … Continue reading “President’s End-of-year update”

Changes to Temple Emanuel

Hopefully you’ve noticed some changes taking place at Temple Emanuel this summer. Last month I wrote about the projects involving the base- ment of the TE House and the fire landings. As stated in last month’s Shofar, those projects were paid for out of our budget. In August, both the House and Sanctuary underwent a … Continue reading “Changes to Temple Emanuel”