It is an honor to have served this congregation for the past year and i want to say thank you for entrusting me with such a position. It is truly hard to believe that a year has already gone by. I must admit that when I accepted this position, the majority of comments that i got were, “are you nuts??”, “you must be out of your mind”, I have to say that it has been the complete opposite experience. I can honestly say that it has been one of the the most rewarding experiences of my life. To be able to work with and serve a community such as the one we have here at TSTI is not something that many others have the privilege of doing.

It has been a challenging year. One that faced many unscheduled meetings, holiday conference calls and difficult decisions and I must say, everyone stepped up to the plate. I never once felt i was in this alone in this journey.  

 There are so many people that i want to personally thank for making this experience so meaningful and easy. Those same people are what make TSTI such a special place.

Rabbi Cohen, your leadership, intellect, teachings of Judaism,, teaching all of us what it means to be a Jew and all of the associated responsibilities that come along with that, your sense of humor, and most importantly, always being there as a friend, Thank you. 

Rabbi Miller, thank you for serving our congregation so beautifully for these last 1years and I wish you all the best in your new endeavor.

Cantor Moses and Cantor Finn, thank you for making our services and prayer so beautiful and meaningful with the sound of your voices.

Carol, Mindy Tracy and Max, I truly did not appreciate the monumental task that you have of educating our younger children. They most certainly will become a larger part of our family as they get older, thanks in large part to the impact you all have had on them. We have an incredible Pre School, Religious School, Hebrew School and High School program and have much to be proud of.

Jay, ( who is not here tonight because he is preparing for his daughter”s upcoming wedding this weekend in Savannah ) and Rabbi Cohen will be joining them as well tomorrow morning , thank you for your 3 years of wonderful leadership before me. You have made my job that much easier as a result of your dedication and wisdom that our Temple so greatly benefited from.

Leslie, thank you for everything that you do . And i don’t think most people understand just how much that is. You are really the heartbeat of the temple and we could not be where we are today without your guidance, leadership and friendship.

Thank you Sunny, and the entire TSTI staff, for all that you do. You all are truly the engine that makes TSTI run so smoothly.

To the Board of Trustees and Executive committee, thank you for serving TSTI in the way you do. All of your insight, willingness to work together and leadership skills have made my job not only easy, but enjoyable.

Thank you to Gail Kanef and Heidi Sussman as they both will be leaving the board for their many years of service. In addition to Gail’s role as membership chairman, she has contributed her legal expertise in employment law in many different circumstances and we are grateful for that. 

Sue, Thank you for chairing our search committee and the countless hours you have spent with that, the re-design of our incredible new website and your endless contributions to TSTI.

Jesse, as outgoing Treasurer not only have you made Roberta’s role so seamless, but your countless contributions to TSTI are impossible to mention. I don’t think there is anyone that knows as much about every aspect of our organization than you. I was reminded of that, harshly, when i was negotiating our clergy contracts.  

Our synagogue is in a terrific place. We are financially sound, we have a wonderful new Rabbi, Ali Klein, starting in July. Our Re-connection committee has been a huge success and we have some exciting plans this coming year.

I am thrilled to share news that a new special committee to the board – Member Engagement- has been formed. The committee is co-chaired by Suzanne Ben-Menachim and Judy Krandel. It will be composed of eight to ten members of our congregation with all demographic segments of temple represented. The committee is charged with looking at all we do and how we do it and how we might approach things differently moving forward. Small focus groups will offer direct congregational feedback and provide us with ideas for how we might best deepen and enhance congregational engagement. This will be a true bottoms up approach to all activities at TSTI.

 To be clear, this is, I believe, a most important initiative for TSTI. More significantly, I believe that the timing for this could not be better. Rabbi Cohen is excited to welcome Rabbi Klein and maximize the potential this change in personnel offers. We have a wonderful staff that is open to new ideas and committed to working in partnership with the volunteer leadership and the entirety of the community to implement them. Any endeavor such as this must be led by the right individuals. In Suzanne and Judy we have just that and I am grateful to them for taking this on. 

Lastly, thank you for the trust you have placed in me to serve our congregation. It is truly an honor and one that I am very proud and thankful for.