A Short Brief by Barry


President Barry Deutsch has so much to say and not always the forum to do so. Please visit his blog from time to time and see what he has to say on a variety of topics.

Other Posts
Temple Menorah President's Weekly Message
Rabbi Lewis Installation - Speech by Barry Deutsch - President

Rekindling our Menorah

Shabbat Shalom. Thank you, Stacey and Dan. I don’t say it enough how your music fills our hearts with joy and inspires us all in prayer and worship.  Rabbis Chasen, Steinberg, and Silver – thank you for participating in the service.  Especially, thank you Rabbi Lewis for your spiritual leadership of our congregation – in teaching and guiding us. Welcome to all our guests, congregants, friends, and family members who are here to celebrate the installation of Rabbi Lewis.

I’d like to start with a little story of Congregational/Synagogue Life that I heard recently.

There are Three rabbis (why do these always start with 3 Rabbis?) Anyway – they were talking over a regular Sunday morning breakfast get-together.

Rabbi Shmeltz says, "We have such a problem with mice at our synagogue. We set all kinds of baited traps, but they kept coming back. Do either of you know how I can get rid of these vermin?"

The second rabbi, Rabbi Glassberg, replied, "We have the same problem at our synagogue, we've spent all kinds of gelt on exterminators, but the problem still persists. Any suggestions?"

The third rabbi, Rabbi Ginsbaum, looked at Rabbi Schmeltz and Rabbi Glassberg and told the following story:

"Rabbis, we had the same problem with mice at our synagogue. We tried traps and exterminators. We even tried prayers. Nothing worked. Then one Shabbat after services a wonderful idea was suggested to me over Kiddush. The next Shabbat, I went to the synagogue about an hour before services started. I brought a big wheel of delicious cheese and placed it on the Bima. Within minutes, hundreds of mice appeared on the Bima and went for the cheese. While they were gorging themselves on the cheese, I Bar-mitzvahed all of them. I have never seen any of them in the synagogue again!"

Tonight is grand night on which a large part of our congregation has been turning out for the last few years. Next to High Holy Days, this Hanukkah Celebration is one of our larger gatherings together. It is my hope that between these large gatherings around our most holy of days – and our friend-raising celebrations like tonight – that we don’t disappear like the mice in my story after our children finish their B’nei Mitzvahs, but rather we continue- both as adults and teens - to enter, embrace, engage, and exhaust (I think I’ve run out of “E’s”) the resources of our Synagogue, from adult education classes like the learners minyan before Friday Shabbat Services to our wonderful programs in our Rosenberg Cultural Center.

I just returned from the Union for Reform Judaism (The URJ - our association of 800 plus synagogues in North America) Biennial which occurs every 2 years. This one was in Boston where 6000 Presidents, Clergy, Board Members and leaders, and staff gathered together to celebrate Synagogue life and learn from experts and each other. Our delegation this year included Rabbi Lewis, Katie Kang, our Director of Operations, Ronnie Glassman, our VP of Education, and Miriam Nash, one of our teachers in our Religious School and myself. The good news is that synagogue and congregational life is flourishing, expanding, engaging, and bringing many unaffiliated diverse Jewish families into their fold. Of course, there are demographic trends that create obstacles and challenges to synagogue success.

I was in awe of the congregations who are developing outstanding innovative and creative solutions to bring in new members, revolutionize and experiment with religious school education, improve retention of existing members, and build thriving, engaged, passionate communities. Rabbi Chasen is going to lead us in a discussion before services tomorrow morning at 9 am on what he is seeing across the country with his fellow Rabbis in the joy, beauty, and vibrancy of synagogue and congregational life. I hope you’ll join us for that discussion.

At the center of this synagogue revival and energy is an outstanding group of Rabbis, of which we should be very proud that one of the very best has joined us. We are overjoyed that Rabbi Lewis has chosen us a congregation to lead. I cannot thank enough our Pulpit Committee as it is formally called – our Rabbinical Search Committee lead by Aaron Krouse. I would be remiss on this installation night to not thank this group for the entire interview and selection process, and final recommendation to our Board to hire Rabbi Lewis. Members of our Rabbinical Search Committee, please stand and accept the warm and sincere thanks from me, our Board, and our entire congregation for the work you’ve done in bringing us to this point.

I’d like to thank our entire Board of Trustees for their work in helping bring Rabbi Lewis to Temple Menorah and in the Transition Process. Board members - Please stand and accept the congregation’s appreciation for your role in bringing an outstanding Rabbi to our congregation.

In addition, I cannot thank enough Alisa Materman as chair our Transition Committee for the work she and her team have done in helping Rabbi Lewis and our Congregation get to know each other through the last 6 months of our transition. Members of our Transition Committee, please stand and accept our heartfelt thank you for all your hard work, including your leadership in helping to plan this installation Shabbat weekend.

There are a couple of other groups to whom I would like to express my gratitude. First, the group that is responsible for this tonight’s program and dinner, led by Jen Molod and her committee – please stand and accept our thanks for your incredible hard work in making tonight a celebration of Rabbi Lewis. Everyone who has been/will be involved both tonight, and tomorrow at Shabbat – both staff and volunteers - setting up/clean-up/cooking/serving/planning - please rise for warm thank you.

Finally, where we would be without our sponsors who so generously have helped to make this evening a financial success. Their names are all listed in the program guide for this evening. I would like to take a moment and show our deep appreciation for what they do = not only tonight but also throughout the year. Please stand.

2 years ago, I stood before you during our annual Hanukkah Celebration. I talked about our rekindling of the Menorah flame – and symbolism of our Menorah as we look toward the future. Rabbi Lewis dedicated one of her High Holy Day sermons to this same symbolism. We are marching forward together hand in hand like beautiful words we read in concert with the Mi Chamocha = toward creating the next stage of our community – a Kehillah K’doshah, a sacred community for which prayer, studying Torah, education, and Tikkun Olam/Tzedakah is at the core – a sacred community in which we are connected intimately, one in which we build these pillars through deep relationships. Rabbi Lewis has already begun to build on the foundation that Rabbi Silver established here and nurtured over 30 years.

We could spend an entire Town Hall of a couple of hours talking about the strategies and action plans to take our congregation to the next level. Wait a minute - Maybe I just proposed the agenda for our next Town Hall in February.  I am confident that the selection of Rabbi Lewis as our senior Rabbi is one of the very best decisions we’ve made in the 25 years my family has been a member of Temple Menorah.

I would like to share with you that it was divine intervention that led me to know Rabbi Lewis should be our next Rabbi. Unfortunately, as many of you know, my daughter Marissa would reprimand me later if I inferred in front of the entire congregation that I was having conversations with God about selecting a Rabbi. She would chastise me in that only Rabbis can claim they are a direct conduit from God – NOT Synagogue Presidents.

In THE 6 short months since Rabbi Lewis joined us, we’ve made significant change and altered culture and course of our congregation. We still have much work to do in helping the Menorah candles burn brighter, and in moving toward a Kehillah K’doshah. Unfortunately, Rabbi Lewis can’t do it alone, Barry Deutsch as President can’t do it alone, our Board of Trustees, teachers, and staff cannot do it alone. It’s going to take a tremendous renewed and re-invigorated volunteer effort to move our congregation and community to become a light unto other congregations of what’s possible within a vibrant synagogue.

We need your help to get there – you heard this message on High Holy Days in one of Rabbi Lewis’ sermons, and in our recent town hall. If you care deeply about Temple Menorah, if you want Temple menorah to be a significant element of YOUR personal and family life, step forward, lean in, raise your hand. Please let Rabbi Lewis or I know you’d like to help, that you’d like to leave your mark and legacy here, and you’d like to move Temple Menorah from good to great.

I could not be more excited, compelled, and passionate about the future of our congregation with Rabbi Lewis leading us. Tonight is an opportunity to celebrate her leadership, vision, and deep appreciation for where we are today and what we can become together. On this occasion I am going to ask for forgiveness - instead of our tradition of silent hand waving, we are going to put hands together, clap loudly, and show her our deepest warmth and thanks for HER CHOOSING US AS HER CONGREGATION.  Please join me now by rising up, and in a standing ovation, or Kol HaKovod  - a job well done and a thank you. As President of the Board of Trustees, on behalf our Congregation, let’s show Rabbi Lewis our deep appreciation that she is now formally installed as our Senior Rabbi.