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Ron Winer presents to Temple Israel
June 18, 2013
I would like to take a few minutes to give thanks for the fine job our outgoing President, Joyce Butlein, has done. The Temple family has been blessed with outstanding leadership and the skills that she has provided these past two years. She has aided in the process of spearheading the building of a new Temple, which will be designed to give our congregants a new home of worship that we so richly deserve for our future preservation. Joyce, you have laid the steppingstone to further this process. I feel it is fitting to commemorate this act by presenting you with a steppingstone with the Jewish symbol of chai. Among all Jews, the toast l-chaim, which means “to life,” is frequently used when celebrating milestones such as birthdays, weddings, and other significant events. So today, Joyce, we celebrate you. We thank you for giving Temple the gift of yourself — your love and passion for Judaism, Temple Israel, and life. May God bless you.

I would like to begin by thanking the board members, who have served with me over the past 10 years on various committees to make Temple Israel a stronger place of worship and more vibrant community. All board members share a common vision and goal, and that is to do whatever is in the best interest for Temple to continue with its legacy in the greater Akron community. I am looking forward to working with the new executive board and board of trustees this fiscal year. You are a great group of individuals and I am proud to be associated with you.

As a lifelong member of Temple Israel, I have personally witnessed how our Reform Jewish community is more than just a mere building on Merriman Road — it is a family. This family is the only reform synagogue in Akron. It has existed for 148 years and in April 2015, we will celebrate our sesquicentennial — 150 years as a reform synagogue in Akron. In today’s changing world, this is a rarity and major accomplishment. It is one we should be proud of. However, to continue our growth and success, we must not rest on our laurels. At this moment, we are only a timeframe within those 148 years, and we must move forward to continue to preserve Reform Judaism for future generations in Akron. This is not an easy task. It will require many committees working together to keep our family functioning well with religious, cultural, and social programs that will continue to enrich and enlighten us as they have in the past. This is not a one-person job. It is a job for all of us. My goal is that with each member’s participation, whether it is teaching Sunday school, fundraising for our new building, or other programs, our family will flourish. We have programs for young families, ritual and worship, a series of social action activities like Mitzvah Day and in the future our very important 150th anniversary committee. Other committees that you can participate in include: membership, dues, budget, religious school, general fundraising (for the general operation of the Temple), personnel, social action, adult education, legal and bylaws, endowment and investments, facilities and building, marketing, music, and nominating. With the strength of our congregation, our family will continue its success to bring Temple Israel into the future and to leave its mark on the greater Akron community.

We are fortunate to have many talented individuals in our congregation. At this time, I would like to request each of you to survey your talents and see how you can lend a hand. As parents, we teach our children a valuable lesson when we volunteer, and that is that one of the greatest pleasures in life lies in the art of giving rather than receiving. Volunteering can be an exciting, growing, and rewarding experience. It is truly gratifying to serve a cause, practice one’s ideals, work with people, solve problems, see benefits, and know that you had a hand in them.

As president, I look forward to listening to your ideas about any and all subject matters regarding new ways to improve our Temple.

Our current building is 103 years old and is in need of major repairs and renovation. Because it is not well insulated, it is not energy efficient. Our move to a newer, more energy efficient building, located in a thriving area of town, will help us to better balance our budget and secure Reform Judaism in Akron for many generations to come. The 4.3 million dollars raised towards our goal tells us that we are well within striking distance of a new home that we can all be proud of. There has been discussion about relinquishing the old Temple and the many memories that were made here. The history that is on the walls of the current Temple will be a part of the new temple. The history and memories of Merriman Road will not be forgotten.

Many thanks to Karen, Jim, Shelly and your Reaching for Tomorrow committee for the outstanding job that you are doing. We will be keeping you, the congregants, informed every step of the way of their continued progress. Thanks also to Larry Kaye and his committee for the work they are doing on the new building with regard to planning and implementation. We are also grateful to have Jeff Lubash on board with this project. He has taught us more about our history and the building issues of the past, current and future.

I thank our last administration and board for their wisdom and dedication to Temple. I also thank Rabbi Feinberg, Cantor Rosenman, as well as our wonderful Temple staff and volunteers for their hard work and dedication. I look forward to working with all of you. I would also like to thank my wife, Kay, and our three children — Natalie, Madeleine, and Max — for their love and support.

Temple Israel is more than just a building for Jewish worship. We are a reformed Judaism congregation who live by the Torah and tradition in our modern lives. We strive to do what is right and just and put our values into action and explore our spirituality through reflection, critical study and sacred acts in order to renew our living covenant with God and the Jewish people. We are builders of hope, as we have elevated Temple Israel as a Jewish voice for the Akron community through the years. I am passionate about Temple’s mission, and with your help, reform Jewish life will continue to prosper in Akron. We want to be certain that Temple Israel is a welcoming place — warm and caring — to its members, prospective members and guests.

May God give us wisdom and strength and may God bless us and watch over us as we continue to build our family at Temple Israel.

Thank you.
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