Aileen Grossberg – A Woman for all Seasons and Seasonings!

Join us as we thank Aileen Grossberg for her years of volunteer service at Shomrei!  Aileen will be recognized at “Shomrei Celebrates” an evening of community, good food, and spirit at Shomrei Emunah, Saturday, Feb 20, 2016, 7:30pm.


Aileen Thrope Grossberg has added ​talent, taste and tact​ to so many Shomrei activities since joining our synagogue in 1975 that it is impossible to overstate her contribution.

It all started back in Lowell, Ma. where her grandparents settled in the early part of the twentieth century. Aileen’s many role models for volunteerism include both her maternal and paternal grandparents who were among the founders, officers, and members of the Lowell Hebrew Community Center, a Conservative shul in her home town. Aileen’s commitments to a Jewish lifestyle were reinforced by her grandparents’ Shabbat and holiday dinners with lots of members of the extended family . The Lowell Jewish Center was the hub of social interactions in the community: Hebrew school, Friday night services with family and friends, as well as Saturday morning.

Aileen remembers the bologna and white bread sandwiches at kiddush as well as the grape and orange soda. She was also active in Hadassah Buds, the precursor of the Young Judea Jewish Youth Group, where she performed in the dance troupe and participated in bake sale fundraising. And, a close reading of this brief history reveals the budding values of the Aileen we know so well – religiously connected, committed to institutional Judaism, a keen memory for food (who else would remember Bologna and white bread sandwiches after 50 years?) , and a history of volunteerism and fundraising.

Grossberg family picFrom here, fast forward to 1975. Aileen and Mark Grossberg settled in Montclair and Shomrei with their two daughters: Melanie-then a toddler and Becca (-then an infant). Aileen believed that her children should grow up in a Jewish community and have access to both a Hebrew school and synagogue in their own town. She also wanted her children to go to public school and see friends from the synagogue in their classes. Montclair fit, and at Shomrei Aileen found the institution that met her internal expectations of what an adult Jewish life might be.

Combining the worldliness of her education at Pembroke and Yale, the organizational skills honed at Rutgers Library School, and the ever-growing sophisticated palette cultivated with her husband Marc, Aileen built upon those earlier role models to create a new standard in volunteerism that few can match. Over the years, Aileen became active in Shomrei by volunteering in the Sisterhood; participating in Sisterhood/Women’s League Shabbat, Preschool Holiday Workshop, Junior Congregation; serving as Hebrew School teacher, Lampert Library librarian; leading Lampert Library lectures [including invitations to speakers as well known as Leon Uris and Harold Kushner] the ritual Aileen Grossberg cooking. jpgcommittee, the Shomrei Book Club; organizing the Passover Seder, coordinating kiddushes, co-chairing MESH, and writing for Kol Emunah. And all of these activities with talent, tact and, yes taste … No Bologna and white bread for Shomrei kiddushes!

Aileen has woven the ritual and community components of her Jewish identity into her life at Shomrei. Both seem equally central to her and intertwined with her roots in Lowell. Her engagement clearly is integrated throughout her life, and she finds great satisfaction and meaning in continuing her volunteer work at Shomrei even now that she has officially retired from her public school career. Why does she do it? “I think I get two main things out of my volunteer work: personal satisfaction in knowing that I have made a contribution to something beyond myself and a way to add structure in my life in a mostly retired day- to- day life.”

Aileen Grossberg storytelling. jpgSo many generations of Shomrei children have shared her joy in storytelling and davening, so many readers have benefited from her book selections, so many congregants and community members have relished the great meals she has organized and prepared. Our lives will continue to resonate with her storytelling, her prayerful singing, her flavorful food. Aileen Grossberg is truly our woman for all seasons… And all seasonings.

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