Reflecting On My Reflections

by Roselyn Allen, April 27, 2022

As I approach my final AGM as President of Solel, I’ve taken the opportunity to look back on my blog posts– truly reflecting on my reflections over these last 3 years.

My very first post was about the benefits of volunteering and how all Solelniks could get involved, and should get involved since, as a small congregation, our synagogue is only made better by the efforts of our membership. Of course, we have a small, but mighty staff in Rabbi Pollack – a thoughtful and dedicated leader, Arliene Botnick-our perpetually energized Director of Education, Carol van Thyn –more than just an administrator, but the keeper of our institutional knowledge, and Nillon Ross- dedicated to keeping Solel’s building clean and functioning for over 2 decades.

In that article, I talked about the benefits of volunteering – about how getting out to do something purposeful slows the aging process and even prevents dementia. Well, the last 2 years with COVID has not allowed for large gatherings and for many, still, the waves of the pandemic are keeping us from socializing. We have had our Mitzvah Committee, led by Marlene Tash, continuing to reach out by phone, to those who need to hear from us. When she was Executive Secretary, a few years ago, I recall every board meeting, when discussing what each committee would like from the board, invariably Marlene asked for new volunteers for Mitzvah – and they’re still needed, even more so now, for all committees and tasks.

We are very fortunate to have a dedicated group of volunteers in our Board Members. I will talk more about our board and executive members, coming and going, during my AGM address (it’s sure to be riveting, so come out and hear me and have your say on May 2nd).

In particular I want to point to Joel Brown, who wears so many hats in the shul, one would think he didn’t have a day job – But he does! Joel’s foresight brought us seamlessly to online services and Zoom meetings when we could no longer have in person gathering. Besides managing all the tech requirements of our building and programming, Joel sits on the Board, the Religious Committee, and chairs the Finance Committee. This year he has been able to find some young tech proteges to help him broadcast services, and I’m sure he’d love to take a few of his other hats off to new volunteers as he is nominated for Treasurer this year.

I’d also like to note that Rita Halporn-Grossman who, in addition to her role as Executive Secretary, continues to take on financial roles despite her retirement from her professional position as our bookkeeper, and she is also working on building improvements and grant fulfilment. She sits on the Torah/Solel@50/Fundraising Committee. She is my go-to person for solid advice, and goodness knows that’s a huge job.

My point is, we have all these wonderful and amazing people on our board and committees who take on multiple tasks, and a professional staff who does so much more than a 40 hour week within a job description. But many hands make light work. I’d love to see a few tasks crossed off the Solel To Do list by all of us.

Our gardens are beautiful – but we could always use more diggers and weeders and planters and trimmers.

Our services are lovely, and we’d love to have more ushers, gabbais, shamashes. Take on one special service a year and decorate and arrange the Oneg. Lead prayers during a Shabbat when Rabbi Pollack takes a much-deserved vacation or learning opportunity.

Teach, tutor, volunteer in the office. Maybe you can share an area of expertise at one of our adult learning programs. Or offer your professional services to Solel for a fundraiser – or just help us raise funds.

And the Mitzvah Committee STILL wants more of you to call or visit a congregant, offer help or condolences on Solel’s behalf.

I promise you, as I have learned over my time on the board, executive and the last 3 years as President of Solel, that it’s the people that make the place. I’ve made lifelong relationships, I’ve had a sense of fulfillment and I’ve learned a great deal about things I didn’t even know I needed to know. I’ve learned a great deal about myself.

At the end of my very first blog I wrote: although it’s been said that the President is the synagogue’s number one volunteer, this is just one of many volunteers that make a synagogue work. I’m so happy that John Lewsen will be coming into a Presidency that has such a wonderful volunteer base, and I hope you all will assist him in his mandate. He will be a wonderful head volunteer.



Filed under: President's Message

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