Seeing Shomrei: President Sara Ann Erichson’s Kol Nidre Address

Editor’s Note: Sara Ann gave this talk at Kol Nidre Services 5779/2018.

Good evening.  For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Sara Ann Ericson and I’m two months into my tenure as being the president of this synagogue.

I was on the internet recently – looking for advice on how to write this speech.  I saw this remark from one former synagogue president: “Three things make a successful High Holiday speech:  a good beginning, a good ending, and having the two be as close together as possible.”  Ok, I have kept that advice in mind, but I do have some thoughts, observations and information that I want to share with you this evening.

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Greetings from Sara Ann Erichson – Incoming President of Shomrei

31180185_10214048356716115_2761768781414924288_oHello!  This Shabbat marks my start as Shomrei’s new president.  It is a privilege to serve this amazing community which I have been a member of for nearly twenty years.

Let me tell you a bit about myself.  My husband Howie and I moved to Montclair twenty-eight years ago and recently celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. We have two young adult children – Danny and Jake – who both work and live in New York City.  I recently retired from my job after thirty-one years as an executive with Nielsen – the company most famous for producing TV ratings. Howie is a law professor at Fordham Law School. I love to travel, play tennis, go to the theatre and am obsessed with Boston sports – especially the Red Sox. Continue reading

My Last Column

FernThis is my final President’s Column. At the Annual Membership meeting on June 14 you will be voting in a new president; my term is complete. People always ask me what is hardest part of the job? What is the greatest?

The hardest part of the job of being President is being present. If you are not in the building, available to members, staff, parents, and board members, it is difficult to have meaningful discussions when someone wants to talk about synagogue business. If you do not attend ritual services or events, it is hard to encourage others. If you are not present, you do not meet people. But being present also meant deprioritizing other aspects of my life: friends, family, exercise, and sometimes my business. There are only so many hours in a day and I can not do it all. I do have to say, I am looking forward to getting my life back. Continue reading

Introducing Lisa Zelenetz, Shomrei Office Administrator


I am pleased to announce the hiring of Lisa Zelenetz as the Office Administrator for Shomrei.  She will be responsible for the overall management and day to day operations of the synagogue including supervising office staff, custodians, and volunteers.

Lisa comes to us with many years of experience working for Jewish institutions.  Most recently, she was the administrator for Congregation Shaare Tefilah in Dallas, TX and was previously the executive assistant to the middle school principal at Solomon Schechter Day School in New Milford, NJ.

Lisa joins Shomrei on Monday, April 23 and her email is email hidden; JavaScript is required

Lisa currently resides in Edison and is already involved in the Montclair community as a volunteer for the annual film festival.

Please join me in welcoming Lisa to the Shomrei community and I encourage you to stop by the office to meet her.


image (2)Passover is the Jewish holiday, almost every person who relates to being Jewish, celebrates.  How a person or family celebrates, is truly individualized and personal.

My family has two seder nights.  We have almost the same menu since the time my Bubbe hosted Passover.  I actually spent years trying to recreate her recipes since she did not write English (though spoke and read 7 languages) and they died with her.  When my nieces and nephews were young, they wanted to know if this was a Jewish food holiday.  If so, they knew they were getting to eat some foods that were only cooked once a year, or maybe twice, Rosh Hashana we have some repeats. Continue reading

Building Update

As of today, the painting has been completed of the entire first floor. Tomorrow the new flooring is suppose to be delivered. The flooring has been the delay over the last two weeks. The manufacturer is in Georgia and due to the snow storms, the truck had problems coming up the East Coast. Installation is to begin on Tuesday and it will take approximately two business weeks.

After the floor is installed, we need to unpack the pods to move the furniture and supplies back. This will need as many volunteers as we can get. I hope many of you will be able to join. No date yet, but definitely will let everyone know. Continue reading

Operation Anthropoid

Operation Anthropoid Memorial, Prague

Operation Anthropoid Memorial, Prague

My new commute is to Prague. Some people commute to Manhattan; my commute is overseas. My business trips are usually two weeks, although there are times I am living in a city for a month. The great thing for me, living in an international city, is that I have the opportunity to develop friendships with local colleagues and learn about the culture and the history from their perspective. Continue reading

Home Sweet Home: Back at Shomrei


I am happy and excited to let you know the abatement has been completed and we received our Certificate of Occupancy. This means we can enter the building and have access to the second floor which includes the Sanctuary, Social Hall, and Gallery. On the first floor, the office will be open once agin for business.

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Dale Russakoff – Shomrei’s Mensch-in-Chief


In 1994, Dale Russakoff moved to Montclair with her husband, Matt Purdy, a reporter at the New York Times, and their two sons, Sam and Adam. She worked as a reporter for the Washington Post in their New York office. Soon after arriving in town, the Purdy/Russakoff family was greeted by Judy Post, Neal Yudkoff, and their daughter, Sunny, neighbors who live immediately behind them in their neighborhood. This connection was meaningful and reinforced the family’s interest in becoming part of the Shomrei community. They joined the synagogue, signing Adam up for the Shomrei nursery school. Dale remembers their first Rosh Hashanah in Montclair when she saw Neal addressing the congregation as its president. Participating in the services  helped the family feel part of Shomrei. Continue reading