To the Beth Israel family
(delivered at the Annual General Meeting December 4, 2014)
I have had the honour of being your president these last 2 years. During my term we have gone from our temporary shul at the Jewish Community Centre to this, our new building - which I have called the "Re-jew-venation". What "Jew-bilation"!
Catherine Epstein said " It will be one of the most satisfying things you have ever done" That was 2 years ago. Two years ago we had just received our development permit from the City of Vancouver. Look where we are now. In just two short years you all have built this new shul, this new home and you are to be congratulated.
I detailed the history of this in many of my speeches before and during our Gala celebrations and in my High Holiday speech and thanked all those involved in the various aspects of our development and celebrations.
Tonight I simply want to thank you all, you our congregants, you the members of our BI family for your vision, your persistence and your dedication in realizing this long held dream.
There have been great moments of frustration, moments of pain, moment s of happiness and even and great moments of pure joy. It has certainly not been dull.
A pause for a short story:
A family had twin boys who looked exactly alike. But their outlook on life was very different. One was an eternal optimist, the other was a doom and gloom pessimist.
Just to see what would happen, on the twins' birthday their father loaded the pessimist's room with every imaginable toy and game. He then loaded the optimist's room with horse manure.That night the father passed by the pessimist's room and found him sitting surrounded by all his new toys crying bitterly.
"Why are you crying?" the father asked."Because my friends will be jealous, I'll have to read all these instructions before I can do anything with this stuff, I'll constantly need batteries, and my toys will eventually get broken," answered the pessimist twin.
Passing the optimist twin's room, the father found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure. "What are you so happy about?! " he asked.
To which his optimist twin replied, "There's got to be a pony in here somewhere!"
There is still so much to do, many things to get done. I am sure we will step in it a few more times before we get it all just right, but I am optimistic for the future of our congregation.
Everyone needs to see what part they can play going forward. Now is the time for you to become engaged. Please see what more you can do to help emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially. Step up to help find solutions in any way you can. Helping to lessen complaints. Solutions can only be arrived at by what we can do collectively and only when we come together, united in trying to find answers to present (and future ) problems.
Now more than ever we need you to be involved, to be connected , As the Rabbi says our mission is to become closer to G_d, Torah and Israel and I would add to each other.
I get quite a few emails from my mother-in-law Binny Goldman. She forwards interesting new stories and the like. She forwarded one email I found interesting. (I searched the source and found it comes from a Times of Israel blogpost by Simcha Jacobovici). Here is my interpretation on the content.
You all may know that the greatest Christmas songs of all time were written by Jews. For example, "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"and "White Christmas"
You may or not know that "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was also written by Jews. The lyrics were written by Yip Harburg who was a son of Russian Jewish immigrants. His real name was Isidore Hochberg and he grew up in a Yiddish speaking, Orthodox Jewish home in New York. The music was written by Harold Arlen, a cantor's son. His real name was Hyman Arluck and his parents were from Lithuania.
Together, Hochberg and Arluck wrote "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", which has been voted the 20th century's number one song by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
You all know the words. Read the lyrics in their Jewish context and suddenly the words are no longer about Dorothy and the Wizard of OZ , but about the Jewish immigrant experience - Jewish survival and renewal:
Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.
The song was first recorded by Judy Garland on October 7, 1938. Just 10 years later, in 1948, the state of Israel would come into being fulfilling our two thousand year old dream of a Jewish Homeland.
In 1948 we held High Holiday services for the first time in our then new shul on 27th and Oak fulfilling a dream that began here in Vancouver in 1932.
In 2014 we held high holyday services for the first time in our "re-jew-venated" shul
Closer to G_d, Torah and Israel AND each other!
I know you will support our new president, Gary Miller, as you have supported me. He is an amazing man and I am looking forward to the next two years under his leadership.
Perhaps the "dreams that you dare to dream really do come true".
Thank you again for the honour of being your president.
Past President of Beth Israel