View from the President
We are a strong community
A message from Daniela Zanzuri-Beiner
President, Temple Beth Am
The opening line of George Gershwin's Summertime song from Porgy and Bess is “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.”
When I first moved to Miami, summertime was easy. It was quiet, there wasn’t much traffic, many stores closed in August and there was a relaxed atmosphere. Well, our summers are not quite as hectic as the rest of the year, but I would not say the “livin’ is easy” — especially not on our 14-acre campus.
Summertime at Beth Am meant camp and getting ready for the fall. Our summer camp was expanded this year under the new leadership of Campus Logistics Director, Shari Debowsky, and included Cheerleading, Tech Camp and a Performance Art Camp. On July 14th, our auditorium was filled with parents, grandparents, extended family and friends as they watched an in-house production of Aladdin Jr., performed by their children. Watch Performance Art Camp video
As the children ran around learning and doing, our administrators took care of our physical plant. Our carpeting project was completed in the social hall, grand foyer and chapel by the beginning of August. A very special thank you to our Vice President of Communications and Branding, Howard Wolofsky, who took the time to help choose the new carpeting, as well as the new hard surface flooring which is adjacent to the social hall. In addition we are also completing the renovation of the Adult Reading Room to create a new Hebrew classroom as we accommodate the growth of our Day School. School starts on August 21st with a current enrollment of 462 children and our new Early Childhood Director, who moved here from Colorado to join us. Please help us welcome Jennifer Ashton-Lilo who started on July 17th.
As children ran around our campus and our Temple Staff caught up with themselves, Rabbi Jeremy Barras and Cantor Rachelle Nelson led 85 of our congregants on a trip to Israel. Our community celebrated five B’nai Mitzvah, in addition to touring museums, Haifa, Caesarea, Tiberias, the Golan Heights, Masada and the Dead Sea.
Many of our board members are in and out over the summer so we don’t hold monthly board meetings during the summer as we do the rest of the year. We held our Executive Board Meeting at the end of May to welcome our Vice Presidents to their new portfolios and for us to connect as a group before we went our separate ways for the summer. I am having phone conversations and individual meetings with people as we try to lay the foundation for the important work that needs to be done in the next year. I will take the opportunity in future Commentator articles to introduce you to the members of our Executive and General Board.
To begin my summer, I had two amazing family-filled weeks in June. As some of you know, I have extended family in Italy and Israel. We had a wedding outside Milan and I was very proud as Edward was asked to recite the 5th Sheva Brachot (thank you Rabbi Barras for the training) and our sons, David and Steven, were honored to help hold the chuppah. The following weekend we were in Tiberias for a family reunion. Four generations gathered at a Kibbutz in Ein Gev for three days and spent the time, laughing, swimming, playing cards and connecting.
The most poignant moment was Shabbat on the Friday evening. My two remaining uncles, both in their 90s, held my grandfathers hand-tooled Kiddish cup, which had been handcrafted in Libya (that is where my father was born and raised), said the prayers and blessed the 100 Zanzuris who had gathered to connect. The amazing thing was not only that we were so many, but at least 1/3 of our family had not been able to make it. There is so much to be said for the power of family and community. Being part of Temple Beth Am is a bit like my time with my family. We cannot possibly know everyone, or connect with everyone, but somewhere in our large synagogue, you find the ones who become dear to your heart and who you know have your back.
I think that is what helps make Temple Beth Am such a special place. We are a strong community, always working on strengthening those bonds, and welcoming our new members.
Hope you all have a wonderful, relaxing rest of the summer. Please know that our Clergy, Staff, Board of Directors and volunteers are here for you.