Welcome To Temple Beth El!
Transcribed from remarks given March 6, 2016.
Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen; Boys and Girls
Wow! This has been an amazing Shabbat and weekend! Before I go any further, there are a number of people that I must thank for what was, obviously a lot of hard work and a lot of time. To the chairs, Debi Brenner and Elllen Konar…a very special “Thank you!” for your coordination and oversight. To committee members : Henra Briskin, Josh Futerman, Shoshana Germanow, Dr. Leslie Glowinsky, Anna Gossin, Shaina Kovalsky, Joseph Meyers, Merle Markus, Judy Azoff Musiker, Barb Schron, Suzanne Seldes, Dvorah Shulman, Tammi Steinberg, Len Stein, Dr. Max Steiner, and Lisa Waltzer…I am so incredibly appreciative of all of your efforts!
To my dear colleagues, Rabbi Bitran, Debbie Zeger, Samara Sofian, Randy Fox Tabb…we have become quite the team! Thank you for not only your collegiality, but also for your friendship. To our officers, Dan Glowinsky, Caroline Korn, Amy Libenson, Lisa Silverstein, Mark Haas and Seth Charatz and to our Board of Trustees, who give so much time and effort to lead and guide our congregation.
To our staff, Michelle Caron, Jessie Atkin, Anna Eckert, Bonnie Harris, Carol Konuksever, Vee Nelson, and Tina Patterson…thank you so much for all that you do!
A special “Thank-you” to Michael Bernstein for our food preparation, assisted by Martha Green, Dvora Steiner, Lori Karbel, Debby Goldman, Dvora Kolko, Iris Mand, Dan Glowinsky, Sarah and Josh Fuller, Lana Russ, Amy Libenson, and Marilyn Manis…Todah Rabbah…Thank you!!
Thank you also to our boys and girls and teachers of our religious school and our Keshet pre-school for all of your hard work in both your presentations to me…the “Shabbat Sing” Friday morning and the school assembly this morning. To our Friday Night Live ensemble, Lisa Waltzer on vocals, Mario Belcufine, clarinet, Doug Stone, Sax, Jeremy Grace, cello, Alex Reeder, guitar, Max Steiner, assorted percussion, Ryan Barclay, drums, Jonathan Allentoff on viola, and of course Ms. Alla Kuznetsov on piano. I am truly so moved by the fact that these marvelous musicians donated their time to make the service the success that it was!
To our maintenance staff, Joe Samluk, Estor Russell, John Francios, William Peterson, Harvey Watts and Lawrence Dash…we are just like one big family in that I’m not on speaking terms with half of you!!! (just kidding!)
A special thank you to all those who have filled in for me, either because I was away or under the weather: My Hazzan Sheni, Dr. Max Steiner, Shoshana Germanow, Joe Meyers, our president, Dr. Dan Glowinsky, Rabbi Simeon Kolko, Ellen Comisar, Marla Allentoff, Martin Presberg and Lisa Cline…Todah Rabba!!
I am blessed with an amazing wife, in Lisa. This honor is as much hers as it is mine. She is always at my side and often behind me…encouraging and motivating me. I love you!
I am thrilled to be joined by my brother, Barry and Renee, sister and brother Joyce and Marty, and children Ben and Rachel, all the way from “the Land of our People”…Florida! And speaking of Ben and Rachel, we are eagerly awaiting the birth of their 4th child…my eleventh grandchild in June! Mazal Tov!! It’s truly wonderful to have Jeremy and Kef Kasdin from Princeton and Karin Kasdin from Newtown, Pennsylvania celebrating with us! I would like to recognize Phyllis Kasdin and Burt Gordon who are here. I am delighted that Julia and Alex are here. They will become husband and wife in August…mazal tov! It’s great to see Samantha and Pat, all the way from Buffalo! It always feels great to be together for happy events! And speaking of happy events, I just became a proud great-uncle for the third time…mazal tov to parents, Bonnie and Larry Zeichner and the aforementioned grandparents, Joyce and Marty. As we break the glass at a wedding, we pause to remember those who are no longer with us…our parents, Nathan and Blanche, as well as our sister, Phyllis Teichman. Zichronam Livracha… May their memories always be for a blessing!
Thank you to all our friends whose lives intersect with Lisa and me in various circles in our community.
I’m not quite sure exactly where the time has gone as we mark this 20th anniversary. In many ways it seems like only yesterday that I began. To you…my dear friends…I thank you for your generosity of friendship and support. It has always meant a great deal to Lisa and me.
Our tradition is full of references to counting and marking time. We celebrate milestones and life-cycle events. From the commandment of the brit milah of the baby boy on the 8th day, to Bar/Bat Mitzvah at 12 or 13 years, we celebrate not only the occasion, but also express our gratitude to the Almighty for keeping us in life and allowing us to reach that particular moment surrounded by loved ones.
Our lives are punctuated with specific holidays and observances and the number of days between them is as significant, in many cases, as the days themselves.
With all of the counting…of days, of everything from blasts of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah to the candles on Hanukkah, we are inextricably tied to marking time and counting days, weeks, months, and years.
It is fascinating to note that our tradition frowns on the counting of individuals by pointing at each and every person. This, it is thought, demeans each person and objectifies him or her. The preferred method in counting for a minyan, for example, is to use a sentence that contains ten words. As we look at each person, we say, for example, “Hoshia et amecha uvareich et nachalatecha, u’r’eim v’nas’eim v’ad olam. It translates: Save Your people and bless Your inheritance, and tend them and elevate them forever.
I mention this as I reflect of these past twenty years, and even more importantly, each one of you. I have been honored to be with you at your happy life-cycle events and hopefully supported you during the dark times of illness or loss. I hope that with my voice and with my vehicle of music, I have been successful in inspiring you.
To merely count the number of years which we have shared is to share an incomplete picture. What those years included and the relationships formed over those years is really the important piece. I hope to continue sharing moments of light and happiness with each and every one of you.
In conclusion, I offer this blessing of gratitude…Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, for keeping us in life, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this day.
Hazzan Martin Leubitz