Summer greetings from the new President of Tree of Life, Or L’Simcha. It is somewhat strange and discomfiting to say that. I feel I have large shoes to fill after the amazing work that our new Past President, Michael Eisenberg did over the last five years. For those of you who do not know me, I am a local psychologist working in private practice, with a wonderful wife who is a school psychologist and two children who never fail to leave me speechless. My wife and I were married at Tree of Life many years ago, and her family can be traced back to the beginning of the synagogue, so I am told.
As I considered what to write for this Simcha Tree article, I was struck by a thought as I was driving in Squirrel Hill. The traffic light for me to resume driving had turned green, and I waited for a pedestrian to cross in front of me. The person openly started across against a red light, casually strolling across without a look or thought. The pedestrian’s determination and indifference stimulated a thought. We can all be strong willed, opinionated and certain that we must act immediately at different points in our lives. The inherent contradiction of a small committee of congregants working on the new By Law changes that affect the whole synagogue congregation came to mind. We have made many changes at the synagogue over the last few years. Changes were needed quickly and drastically, a sure formula for a small number of people making decisions if one is to succeed. I do not doubt any of the decisions we have made – though I always feel we can learn from how we made those decisions to do so with greater respect and inclusion.
I do not want to be that pedestrian, blindly crossing the street, sure that my way is correct and my need greater in the moment. As I said at the annual meeting, I believe that “our vision” is what is most important rather than simply “my vision”. I look forward to hearing from all of you, so that I can help lead the synagogue in a manner that meets your goals, your needs and feels respectful of your beliefs. Our world can be very self-focused, and we do need to first meet the needs of our family. I have faith that we can do that and also meet the needs of the synagogue and make use of our synagogue to find community, friendship and support. I hope that everyone has a wonderful summer and I look forward to working with you as we forge the future of the synagogue together.