View from the President
We invite you to glide across the lake with us...
A message from Daniela Zanzuri-Beiner
President, Temple Beth Am
Between the woods the afternoon
Is fallen in a golden swoon.
The sun looks down from quiet skies
To where a quiet water lies,
And silent trees stoop down to trees,
And there I saw a white swan make
Another white swan in the lake:
And, breast to breast, both motionless,
They waited for the wind’s caress….
And all the water was at ease.
– A.A. Milne
This past January I attended a URJ-sponsored seminar in Dallas with Senior Rabbi Jeremy Barras and our Executive Director, Bob Hersh. The seminar was dedicated to the challenges of running and leading large congregations. Guest speaker Susan Salgado, who cofounded Hospitality Quotient with Danny Meyers, the founder of Shake Shack, led the conversation in a way that has resonated with me until this day: Envision how a swan glides across a lake; the embodiment of grace, peace and serenity. It evokes a sense of clarity that can only come from something so naturally balanced. However, we do not notice the mechanics of the swan that allow its awe.
We do not observe how fast those little legs paddle as the bird graces to the other side of the lake; we cannot see the bone structure inside of its magnificently designed wings. We only take away the vulnerable feelings, thoughts and lessons that we were given while experiencing the swan, as is the same with the High Holy Days.
By the time you read this article, the High Holy Days will have already come and gone. During this time, you may have experienced a sense of peace, understanding, forgiveness and heavy reflection. The ideal congregational experience is made possible by an invisible mechanical aspect that, although unseen, makes up the legs and wings of the services that we all commemorate together.
The preparation started back in May and ran full force up to and through the holiday. Rabbi Barras met with our clergy as they envisioned and discussed the look, feel and theme of this years' service. Sermons were discussed and tweaked and then re-tweaked some more. Our VP of Religious Practices, Tracey Spiegelman, along with our Chief Gabbai, David Schwadron (who also leads our Shabbos Committee), organized the honors and ensured I could tackle some of my responsibilities as temple president during this sacred time as gracefully as a swan. Aída Littauer and Mindy Robbin worked tirelessly to make sure our Clergy would have everything they needed to accommodate our congregants. Our Head of Security, Sharóne Levi, worked with his team ensuring we would be safe and that traffic patterns would not disturb our neighbors.
Bob Hersh ensured that all our professional staff got what they needed for all the preparation. He also pre-established the solutions to any and all potential problems that arose as we prepared our Temple to welcome over 5,000 people during the most holy time in the Jewish religion. And then, there are our unsung heroes of our Temple; volunteers who mailed us our tickets, welcomed us to our seats, and organized our food drive. Let's not forget our amazing custodial and maintenance staff, led by Luis Garcia and Carlos Restrepo, who along with their team, prepared the Sanctuary 10 days before Erev Rosh HaShanah. Over 1,500 additional chairs were brought in, risers were delivered and placed on the Bimah and High Holy Day prayer books were placed on the chairs. On Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur,they had a 30-minute turnaround time between the early service and late service. During that time, they had to tidy up stray programs, place kippot back in the bin, replace prayer books, add chairs to the Bimah and remove choir stands.
As all of this preparation took place in our main Sanctuary, Rabbi Rachel Greengrass and Susan Linder were leading the Kid's K'hilah service in the Hessel Family Youth Complex Auditorium, slowly but surely instilling important Jewish roots in the next generation. We did not see nor feel the “magic” that built our services any more than we could not see the swan’s legs paddling furiously under the water. We could only see the swan gliding across the lake. As a result, we left our Sanctuary feeling spiritually revived, enhanced and encouraged by the sermons, the prayers and music.
With the High Holy Days behind us Temple Beth Am is in full swing as a Synagogue, School and a Center for Jewish life and learning. I hope you will join me as we welcome our new members on Friday, October 6th for a New Member Shabbat and Congregational Sukkot dinner. I ask you to remember when you were new to the Beth Am Family and how you felt when you were warmly greeted by others and made to feel welcome in your new home. Who was your unsung hero on that occasion and how nice it would be to pay that feeling forward?
On Sunday, October 22nd, Sisterhood will kick off their exciting year of programming with a 70th birthday party for the State of Israel, featuring dinner, dancing and Israeli mentalist Alan Chamo. Then, on Wednesday, October 25th, our Brotherhood Opening Event features an evening with Ron Magill from Zoo Miami, as he gives his famous and hilariously funny speech entitled “Sex and the Animals.” If you can picture how the late Robin Williams might have given this talk, you will have an idea how much fun an evening with Ron will be.
I encourage you to read the Commentator, go on our website and see all that Beth Am offers on a spiritual, educational and social level. The Temple Beth Am swan diligently paddles to “Embrace Jewish Life.” We invite you to glide across the lake with us. Our clergy, staff, and temple board are always here for you.