Shalom, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

Posted on May 5, 2019 by Jay Lavroff

When I was young, I sometimes complained about the seemingly unending school year. My mother replied that I shouldn’t wish the time away because when I got older the days would go by faster. I remember thinking “how silly. Time can’t pass more quickly just because you are older.” But as usual, Mom was right. Like the witness in MyCousin Vinny who was able to cook his grits in five minutes because the laws of physics didn’t apply on his stove, the passage of time has accelerated in direct proportion to my advancing years. This has been particularly evident during my two years as president of Temple Beth-El. It seems like yesterday that I was installed, and now I am writing my final Shofar article.

The past two years have flown by in a whirlwind of temple activity. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve as president. It has been a period of personal and institutional growth and challenge, of exploration and experimentation. Not everything we tried worked, and some things exceeded expectations. We were at times confronted with difficult circumstances from within and without. But always, the extraordinary positive energy and commitment to community that are our hallmark were not just present, but prominent. The high measure of collaboration, consultation, commitment and friendship infused in everything we do here make our congregation the remarkable place it is.

One of the best things about the past two years is that it has enabled me to more closely and fully experience the teamwork that is constantly exhibited by our entire congregation: members, clergy and staff alike. This group of outstanding colleagues is smart, ethical, humane and never shy about taking on meaningful issues. We are blessed with a board of trustees, committees and congregants whose generous spirit and willingness to participate is unparalleled. The poet William Butler Yeats wrote, “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met yet.”These words are particularly applicable to Temple Beth-El, and I am happy to be able to say that there is not a single person here that I do not consider a friend.

While I would like to mention by name everyone who worked so hard for the collective good during my term, the space allotted prohibits me from doing so. I hope that I have made my feelings known to you throughout the past two years. I would, however, like to thank our first and second vice-presidents Leigh Miller and Gary Cohen for their constant and steadfast support.Gary hit the nail on the head when he coined the phrase “The Three Jewsketeers” to describe the closeness of our working and personal  relationships. I wish them well as they continue through the leadership chairs. I’d also like to congratulate Andrea Bradley, who will be our next second vice-president. The temple is in excellent hands.

I became president at the same time we adopted a different method of handling temple affairs. This resulted in something of a “shakedown cruise” concurrent with daily temple life. The newly created Oversight Committee,including the heretofore unknown counsellor positions,grew and developed in real time and performed at an outstandingly high level. I want to express my sincerest appreciation to secretary Leslie Kass, treasurer Jay Taylor, assistant treasurer Jeff Resnick, and counsellors Julie Hirsh, Roxanne Levinston, Ryan Maisel, Melissa Pyle and Jodi Siegal for helping to make our new system of governance and management a success.

It is a delight to be part of the thriving partnership enjoyed by our clergy, professional staff and lay leadership.Everyone is busily rowing the boat in the same direction,and while we may not always agree on the course, we are all focused on reaching the same beneficial destination. Rabbi Gluck, Cantor Pincus, Amy Rubin, Lisa Friedman and Sarah Gluck each bring individual talents to their position that are individually impressive and collectively without peer. It has been an honor to work with this august body.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not offer my most heartfelt thanks to my wife Pam, the love of my life.Without your understanding, generous soul and strong,independent spirit, I would not have been able to enjoy these years of service to our synagogue. Thank you for this wonderful gift.

At this time, like all bittersweet moments, it is difficult to fully express one’s feelings. That is especially so when the source of the feelings is a place as amazing as Temple Beth-El. So, I will conclude by simply saying that it has been a privilege, a pleasure and an honor to be of service,and I look forward to a future for our community that is overflowing with the fulfillment, joy and blessing that w all value so highly. Keynyehiratzon, may this be God’s will.


Jay Lavroff

Originally published in the May-June 2019 issue of the Shofar. For more issues of the Shofar, visit the Shofar archives.