Today is May 19, 2019 -

President’s Rosh Hashana Address

While I recognize many of you…
There are so many I do not recognize.

Thank you for joining us here at Congregation Temple Emanu-El. My name is Jonathan Morse. I became your President in early 2014. I am most grateful for the honor and the privilege to serve you.

So let’s bring you all up to date on the state-of-the-state of our Temple. We are a proud conservative congregation soon to celebrate our 100th year as the oldest and longest operating synagogue in Nevada.

How is this possible?
In such a small Jewish community?
We make it possible.

The core activities that sustain us are generously provided by tireless volunteer efforts from leaders and professionals in our community, and we have many to thank.

Permit me to thank our Board of Trustees, would you all please rise … Suzanne Silverman, Marty Ozer, Marc Goldberg, Michael Lampert, Iris Frank, Merle Levy, Nancy Morse, Steve Hirsch, Alan Liebman, and John Farahi.

The physical plant, our building and systems are managed and cared for by Marc Golberg and Herschel Rosenbaum.

Our financial house is stable – thanks to your generous support and thoughtful planning and budgeting by Michael Lampert and Marc Golberg.

Our ritual committee ensures that Friday night and Saturday morning services are delivered every week by the capable talents of deeply committed lay leaders including Mark Frank, John Duerson, Hershel Rosenbaum, Yaakov Varol, Sheldon Chanes, David Pierce and Michael Israel.

Weekly D’Var Torah sermons are thoughtfully prepared by Lynn Pierce, Gary Silverman, Donne Levy, Merle Levy, Judy Hirsch, Steve Hirsch, Sheldon Chanes and many others.

And it goes without saying, when Jews get together we like to eat. We are grateful to so many for generously contributing to community pot-luck dinners and Shabbat kiddushes.

And let not another moment go by without acknowledging the person that weaves so much of this together, the business, the operations and the many responsibilities of Temple administration – they are professionally performed by Harriet Young.

My predecessor, Shari Weinberger Glick, spoke last year of our efforts to hire a rabbi. The search committee included John Farahi, Yaakov Varol, Lynn Pierce, Marc Golberg, Shari and committee chair Arlene Lampert. Guided by Arlene’s leadership, numerous candidates were identified, vetted and interviewed culminating with a selection and the commencement of negotiations. Arlene was joined by Alan Liebman and Ed Levine in negotiating committee efforts. You all must know, countless volunteer hours were invested in this process. While we are disappointed that these efforts did not yield our goal, this congregation and community are united in our appreciation for the work of this committee. Thank you.

Each time a religious leader visits our community, generous hosts open their homes in welcome. Thank you Leslie and Marc Golberg, thank you Janet and Len Shapiro, thank you Shari Weinberger and Michael Glick, and thank you Catherine and John Farahi for being generous and gracious hosts.

And so we begin our search again. Your board has charged ahead with two initiatives. One, a newly formed search committee headed by Iris Frank. Iris is joined by Lynn Pierce, Alex Fratkin and Marc Golberg.

I researched the findings from previous task committees, do any of these themes sound familiar?

“We need a dynamic, energetic religious leader.”
“We need to connect with the unaffiliated.”
“Who is gonna wanna come to Reno?”
“What do we do in the interim?”

OK, we formed a ritual committee, first to ensure a rewarding High Holy Day experience. Heading our ritual committee is Mark Frank, he is joined by Suzanne Silverman, Sheldon Chanes, Herschel Rosenbaum, Barry Bernson, Yaakov Varol, Judy Hirsch and Steve Hirsch. We activated a wide network of contacts at rabbinic schools, retired rabbis, friends and family from here to Israel. We received many responses from a talented pool of individuals. We are most grateful Raffi answered our post.

So this is where the idea was hatched that our ritual committee is poised to serve as the bridge to identifying our next full time religious leader by initiating a structured Visiting Religious Leader program.

Our Visiting Religious Leader Initiative will seed vitality for Temple Emanu-El in a number of areas:

Ritually – by experiencing new leadership
Educationally – each Visiting Religious Leader comes prepared to lead a variety of gatherings
Socially – each Visiting Religious Leader reserves time during their weekend visit to meet individually with members of the Community and are prepared to visit congregants that are unable to travel
Temple Emanu-Els Image and Vision – bringing new spirit ritually, sparking educational programming and by connecting incremental participation in our community

OK, so we talked about our search efforts and the ritual committee, how will we connect with the unaffiliated?

The answer is to meet them where they meet, by offering relevant programming, rich education and establishing a vibrant presence on the internet and with social media. I am thrilled to say we now have a magnificent new website thanks to our affiliation with the USCJ and we have a newly formed multimedia committee led by Merle Levy. I hope you will participate by visiting our website, liking us on Facebook and contributing to the conversation on our blog.

All of these actions matter. So do our youth activities.

Do all of you know about SNUSY? SNUSY is a youth group serving Jewish high school teens regardless of family synagogue affiliation. They had an active schedule this past year. We are grateful to Lynn Pierce and Josh Pierce for all of their work. There is material about SNUSY on the back table, please pick up this information if you have children or grandchildren who would like to participate.

The teenage girls’ group “Rosh Chodesh: It’s a Girl’s Thing” meets in our library, organized by Susannah Gupta. Again, if you have any teenage girls’ who may be interested in participating, contact Harriet, she can connect you with Susannah.

Judy Hirsch continues to hold her weekly bible study group here at Temple Emanu-El. Sheldon Werber leads a Jewish history class. Both are popular and well attended.

Lastly, I want to mention that the University of Nevada, Reno is home to Hillel. Hillel is a Jewish student organization on campus offering programming, engagement, and leadership development. This is a wonderful organization and if anyone is interested in helping to support Hillel, you can contact Sue Liebman or Harriet.

There are many who volunteer, if I have omitted mentioning you, forgive me.

This is indeed an exciting time for Congregation Temple Emanu-El. We are blessed with a strong, solid foundation held together by a very dedicated, caring congregation.

And yet, it is our responsibility as Jews to maintain our shul, seek out our activities, volunteer your ability because we are a proactive congregation quite able to initiate and implement programming, promote and preserve our sacred Jewish identity, and sustain our institution for another 100 years.

Please, please, stay connected
Have a sweet new year

Shana tova!