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.

The greatest part of the job, getting to know many congregants I would never have met or spent time with. It amazes me how many families I actually know something about, not just the names or faces. What I have enjoyed even more is getting to know the kids in the pre-school and the JLC. Being present was also being present for them, including visits to Bnai Keshet when the pre-school was displaced or visiting JLC classes on Saturday mornings or being at as many Hinei MaTov services as possible. I believe I developed a “relationship” with our kids that also made the synagogue more of a comfortable home for them. I love the many “assistants” I have and the hugs I get.

My biggest worry, the building would fall down. I remember my first week as President., Marc Chalom, the then VP of Buildings and Grounds, gave me a complete tour, pointing out what will eventually need to be repaired. Some were of more urgent need than others. The roof for example, I had high hopes would last beyond my presidency. It did not.

The Great Flood will forever be part of my legacy. The water pipe burst would have been enough, dayanu. The non-fryable asbestos in the flooring tiles added a new complication and that would have been enough, dayanu. However, playing general contactor and dealing with the insurance company, while spending most of my time in Prague with a new client, added to the challenge. But the classroom area does look amazing.

Have I left Shomrei Emunah in a better place for my successor? I believe I have. But I am only an elected official, it is up to you to decide. Though please come to the Annual Membership meeting and vote me out.

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Fern Heinig

Fern Heinig

A long time member of Shomrei, Fern is a past President of the Synagogue. She is one of Shomrei's MESH Cafe (Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless) chefs. Fern founded Minerva Consulting. She consults to the healthcare industry on commercializing brands and developing the next generation of marketers.
Fern Heinig

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