There are many people who are responsible for making our service wonderful this morning. Thank you to Rabbi, Chazzan, Christine, our Singers, Ellyn Bender, our HHD chairman, Judy Swerdlow, our VP of Ritual, our readers, bimah honorees, ushers and greeters.
I’d like to begin my remarks with an analogy. Every year, our President will address a joint session of Congress to give the state of the Union address. This speech usually starts out with, “Our Union is sound.” I certainly don’t want to get into a political discussion as to whether you agree or disagree with that statement. I do want to borrow from it by saying that “the state of Temple Sinai is sound.”
Just like the cylinders of an engine that all must be working properly to attain the maximum horsepower; Temple Sinai has many component parts that must be working in harmony as well. Let’s start out with our clergy. I have had the pleasure of knowing Chazzan Abramson since he first came to Temple Sinai. I can’t imagine life without his personal warmth, commitment to excellence and the marvelous music that makes all of our services so enjoyable. Geoff Huntting, our beloved Rabbi, has been associated with Temple Sinai for over 25 years. His humor, scholarship, love of Judaism and unwavering commitment to Temple Sinai is a true inspiration. He has been integral in helping to create our unique culture.
Let’s go next to Education. Laura Freedman is the Director of our GAN, the most sought after pre-school in Sarasota. I don’t know what she does or how she does it, but when I come to the Temple all the happy children and parents that I run into overwhelm me. The GAN paves the way for many families to begin their Temple journey with us.
What I consider as one of the most important parts of Temple life is our Religious school. I am a very strong believer that Religious schools are the key ingredient in ensuring that there will be a Jewish people in the future. Under the direction of Steve Weintraub, we are fulfilling our mission. We have no intention of resting on past laurels here. We are actively working to enhance our curriculum and programs to ensure that not only are our children learning, but also enjoying the process.
In addition to our Religious School, we have an active and successful youth program under the direction of Deb Bryan, which further solidifies our Jewish identify with our young people.
In the area of leadership, we have a talented and dedicated Board of Trustees, who commit countless hours for the betterment of Temple Sinai. And, of course our search for our next Rabbi is smoothly moving forward under the watch of Herb Krasow.
As far as facilities go, we are very fortunate. Our beautiful and functional Temple was built in 2005. Not only do we have this wonderful sanctuary, but ample classrooms, which were expanded a year ago, a spacious social hall, and modern and fully used office space.
Financially, we are better off than over 90% of congregations nationwide. Our budgets are always tight, but we pay our bills on time and have strong cash reserves. The past couple of years, we have experienced losses, but we have been able to cover them.
Our office staffs led by Jeff Earl and Tina Baran ensure that operations run smoothly.
The last key engine cylinder is our members. We come from many diverse Jewish backgrounds ranging from Classic Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative. We are also a welcoming place for our spouses and partners of other faiths. We value scholarship, innovation, out of the box thinking and warmth. That perhaps is the most important of all. When visitors come to Temple Sinai, they experience warmth. It’s not put on to make an impression, but how we actually are all of the time, and truly differentiates us.
So, as we celebrate and begin the New Year, let’s be thankful for Temple Sinai, this special place that we have created with all of these complimentary parts.
In closing I would like to wish everyone a Gamar Chatimah Tovah –
May you be sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.