President's Rosh HaShanah Message
September 15, 2023
I would like to thank everyone for sharing this, the eve of Rosh HaShanah, with us.
I have the honor of greeting and addressing our congregation on the start of the two weeks that mark the major holidays of our people. I thought I would talk about members who have passed and who exemplified, by their example and their energy, who we are.
Claire set a high bar for us to surpass. When Claire walked into the temple she generated energy that was contagious. She could not do
enough for our members and the Jewish community. A Holocaust survivor, she was always prepared to talk to children and adults about her and its horror. Unfortunately, she has passed, so that fount of firsthand knowledge has been lost. She was a strong person who received everybody she met with a smile, as if it was someone she knew for a long time. She brought her energy with her everywhere she went. She hit the room with her kindness. She gave herself completely to the synagogue and everyone she met. Her passing has left a vacuum to be sure.
Ninety-eight years old when she recently passed. Filled with high energy and curiosity. She still drove at 98! What I found most charismatic of Gert was her love to learn the meaning and the message of Torah. She loved to come to the Torah and Bible discussions that Alex Maller held each week. She had a fount of knowledge and was eager to learn.
I want to mention one more person. Abe Wasserstrom!
Abe was also a Holocaust survivor who was a valued member of our congregation. When he came into the building, always early, you knew he was here to pray. He would shout out “Hello Everybody!” and the building shook. You can only imagine how uplifting Abe could be. If you asked him a question about his health or of his family you often received “Thank you for asking” as part of his answer. His spirit and his sense of humor was unbelievable.
These few people and the many, many past members of our congregation who I cannot begin to name and describe, make us who we are -- Temple Beth Shalom! You who are here today celebrating Rosh HaShanah, you are these people. The great people that have been with us in the past, through the 50 years of TBS have passed on their commitment and love of Torah, its message, the love of Judaism, and the love of their fellow man.
A high bar has been set, and today this temple strives to meet that standard.
I want to emphasize that these three people that I mentioned are the tip of the iceberg. They represent all our Congregation and friends of the past and present.
How do I know this? Because you are here tonight to celebrate this Rosh Hashanah as a family
I will leave you with this quote of Maya Angelou: “I‘ve learned that people will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Yom Kippur Message to the Congregation
By Carol Maller
September 24, 2023
As is fitting for the moment, I must begin with a confession. When Robert asked me to speak again at this service, I originally thought that updating my remarks from last year would be fine. No one who heard them last year would remember what I said anyway, and alevai, there would most likely be some new people to appreciate the message. So,
while I still have time before my page in the Book of Life gets signed and sealed, I apologize and ask HaShem to forgive me for that momentary spasm of sloth.
To begin - two personal anecdotes:
The second date with my now husband Alex was on September 24, 2004 – exactly 19 years ago today. Several days before, knowing how to really impress a nice Jewish girl (from mid-town Manhattan no less), he asked me if I would like to attend Kol Nidre with him. To which I replied, “What’s that?” And here I am today. Here we are. Hineini.
Years later, on my first trip to Israel, upon arrival at the airport and exiting the plane, Alex went off to the Israeli passport holder line, leaving me on my own to be scrutinized by a very stern, uniformed young woman who barraged me with a stream of detailed questions about who I was, why I was there, with whom was I traveling, how long I would be staying, what/where/when… Until I really began to get worried. And then she looked up at me, smiled, closed my passport, handed it to me and said, “Welcome home.” And here I am today. Here we are. Hineini.
What does all this have to do with Kol Nidre? In my case, those two experiences were watershed moments in the evolution of my sense of “Jewishness” from the theoretical to the personal. From years of being a part of “them” to finally being a part of “us.”
Hineini – I am here. We are here. Just like the original members of Temple Beth Shalom 50 years ago.
I like to think of the founding families of our beloved “little shul in the woods” as The Hineini Brigade. Gert Kempner (of blessed memory), whom we just lost a few months ago at the age of 98, was one of those pioneers. She said of the original members of the shul: “We were a small community but a huge family.” Sound familiar? It is said that you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. Here at Temple Beth Shalom you can do both. We are here tonight because…
Our founders had Vision
A vision for the future of Palm Coast and the importance of an ongoing vibrant Jewish community l’dor va dor – from generation to generation.
Our Founders had Faith
Faith in their God, faith in the tenets of Judaism, faith in our freedom to live as Jews in America and faith in each other.
Our Founders had Perseverance
They were Jews. They never gave up. Obtacles/shmobstacles they got it done.
Our Founders had Generosity
Generosity of spirit. Generosity with their time and talent. And an ongoing generosity of financial support to build both the congregation and its permanent home of worship.
Our Founders had Commitment
The commitment to not just establish, but also to maintain their synagogue, its congregation, and its presence within the Jewish community of Palm Coast into the future.
So tonight, to continue the vision, faith, perseverance generosity and commitment of our Founders, I would like to invite everyone here to join what I am calling The Hineini Brigade 2.0!
Hineini. Let’s not just say it once each year during the High Holy Days. Like our Founders, let each of us and all of us “be here” in whatever way we can, as much as we can. Beginning now. For the next 50 years and beyond. L’dor vador is not a slogan – it is a pillar of our shul. It’s 5784 everyone – let’s roll!
G’mar Hatikvah Tovah – May you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a blessing.