I could not be more delighted to step into the role of President of Congregation Shomrei Emunah. It is a tremendously exciting time of change at Shomrei: a new Rabbi, a new interim Education Director, the hoped-for full emergence from COVID-19 and return to our familiar ways of gathering and celebrating our community and Judaism.
I have gotten to know many of you over the years, but I still have so many of you to meet, which I look forward to doing soon. Today, I am writing to share my excitement, my gratitude, and to share a bit about myself and my family.
My wife, Lindsey, and I have been in Montclair for 13 years. We moved here because Lindsey’s brother and wife, also Shomrei members, David and Aimee Brooks, moved here in 2006. We were excited to live close to our family and raise our kids together. We started attending High Holiday services at Shomrei right after moving, but we became members seven years ago when the dues model shifted to Sustaining Share. Our daughter, Jordan (whom many of you know!) 12, will become a Bat Mitzvah this fall, and our son, Noah, 10, isn’t far behind. Jordan attends the Renaissance School and Noah goes to the Charles H. Bullock School. Elliott is just 4, but a bright light in our family. He currently attends Over the Rainbow pre-school and is already excited to start kindergarten in fall 2023, when he will also begin attending JLC. Lindsey is just finishing her time as the General Manager of the Manhattan Theatre Club in NYC, where she has been for 22 years – several of you were able to come see her wonderful production of Prayer for the French Republic and many others have come to see MTC’s productions over the years. I am in my sixth year as the Managing Director of WP Theater, whose mission is to produce and present plays and musicals written and directed by women in NYC’s Upper West Side. In addition to my full-time job in the theater and as a parent, I am also an adjunct professor in the Department of Theater and Dance at Montclair State University, where I have taught since 2018 and President of a small group of similar sized Theaters in NY called The Association of Not-For-Profit Theaters (ANTC for short). Whew! That sounds like a lot!
I am so excited that I was asked to take on this role right now. Rabbi Julie will soon begin leading our Congregation and her ideas are nothing short of inspirational! With the departure of Heather Brown, we have begun to look at our Education program to ensure we hire with intention and the children and families of Shomrei continue to feel their learning is in the best of hands. We will continue to move towards a sense of normalcy around COVID, adapting where necessary and changing with guidance as needed. I am thrilled to help guide us all through this time of excitement, to share with every member the growth I envision for our community, and to engage deeply with those who make Shomrei such a rich and wonderful place.
This is the perfect moment for the congregation to welcome new, young families who have moved to our town during the pandemic and I am buzzing with enthusiasm to attract them through our education, programming, ritual and social action efforts. Working together with our established and long-term members who bring so much to the Shomrei family, we can enlarge our idea of community and launch ourselves into a promising future. We hope to share our values with each of them – expanding our reach and creating a truly new Jewish Life for them and for us.
A moment for thanks.
Miriam Haimes has been a tremendous blessing to me and to every Shomrei congregant. Without her stewardship and the incredible support of the Shomrei Board of Directors, I cannot imagine how we would have kept moving forward during the darkest days of the pandemic. Her patience and confidence have created a bedrock for my presidency to stand on and I am eternally grateful to her for leaving things in wonderful shape.
Thanks also go to Rabbi Greenstein, for lovingly shepherding our Shomrei family these past 13 years; to Heather Brown for creating a warm and open educational setting for 10 years; to Lily Lucey and Aylah Winter for keeping us moving forward during transition and constantly making our education work better; and to Ehud Klinger and our incredible office staff for organizing us and finding efficiencies every step of the way.
I am so humbled to be your next President. It is a huge responsibility, but I am confident that, with your support, and with the dedication and energy from the Shomrei Board of Directors and Lay Leaders, we can navigate the next two years and transform Shomrei into the spiritual, educational and community home that we all need so badly right now.
With incredible gratitude,
Editor’s note: This message was originally emailed to the congregation on July 19th.