I can’t believe that this is my last Simcha Tree article! Of all the many tasks the presidency required of me, coming up with something fresh and interesting every month has possibly been the most demanding. I remember chafing at a college requirement that I take one writing class. As an undergraduate engineering student, I could not imagine when I would ever be called upon to write on a regular basis. Little did I know!
I am still no Hemingway, but I do believe that my writing has improved at least a little over the past five years. Looking back, I realized that this position has helped me grow in other ways as well. I have developed greater confidence in my public speaking and eventually moved from trying to remember all the correct information to trying to entertain you a bit as well. I was not a stellar Hebrew school student as a kid, but my teachers would be proud of my increased familiarity with services and my upgraded synagogue skills.
The most fundamental aspect of the presidential experience, however, is working closely with so many different people. I needed to develop my listening skills, striving to ascertain members’ varying priorities, needs and objectives so as to satisfy them or come up with compromises that everyone can live with, all within a context of safeguarding the sustainability of our congregation. I was also privileged to interact with many individuals throughout the Jewish and East End communities in their roles as leaders of other synagogues, institutions and organizations with whom TOL*OLS shared common interests at one time or another. I have been so impressed and humbled by the many outstanding volunteers who pour their hearts and souls into their work, making the Jewish community as vital and productive as it is. I am so grateful for having met these remarkable individuals, among whom I have been fortunate enough to find mentors, partners, supporters and friends. Yes, the role of synagogue president is demanding, at times thankless and even frustrating, but in the end, all that we have accomplished and everything I have learned and gained more than offsets the blood, sweat and tears I contributed to the cause. I will no longer be the president of TOL*OLS, but the friendships I have made, within the synagogue and the larger community, are everlasting.