Presidential Remarks

Annual Membership Meeting June 13, 2022

By Sandra Armstrong

Upon looking back on the minutes that Margie graciously wrote up from a year ago, our Jewish world has changed significantly. In May 2021, we were just discussing the move to a Hybrid, Zoom service both in person and on Zoom. We weren’t sure what it would look like, but we were willing to try to go back into the Unitarian building with restrictions set up. On June 5, 2021, we offered our first Hybrid service to the congregation. We have kept Shabbat to the best of our ability and maintained a high level of reverence and ruach. We continue to produce the best of the best with an interactive, fully participatory, and joyous Zoom Hybrid service. Both our friends on Zoom and in person witness the live presentation of our Torah readings and service leadership. The joy is illuminated by us dancing in the aisles as we are so grateful to HaShem for keeping us together as one, remarkable congregation on Zoom and in person.

We maintain the legacy of the only Pacific Southwest Region of United Synagogue shul in Hawaiʻi that is affiliated with the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and American Jewish University in California as they produce Rabbis from the Conservative movement of Judaism. In fact, we have Rabbi Moshe Levin coming in to visit on a vacation to Hawaiʻi in June. And for the upcoming High Holy Days, our dear friend and Sof Ma’arav “out of town” member from California. Rabbi Mark Hyman, who retired after 30 years from Congregation Tikvat Jacob Beth Torah, will be with us.

We said goodbye to our beloved Naomi Olstein in a way that she would have been grateful and very proud of us. As I hand out the aliyot cards each Shabbat, I remark on how astute she was knowing who needed an Aliyah and making sure our services ran smoothly. Her special goodbye gathering on Zoom helped us all heal a bit. We said goodbye to Jordan Popper, one of our founding members who withstood the test of time by creating and bolstering Sof Ma’arav to what it is today. Shiva minyan were held at the Littmans and Jordan’s legacy lives on at Sof.

Judy Goldman bid us aloha as she moves onto her next adventure in Portland, Oregon. We sent her off with a Zoom farewell celebration and then, in addition, Judy was able to come to an in person service and present from the bimah during her drash for Emor. Two weeks ago, a beautiful young couple had an ufruf at Sof Ma’arav. Jessie Rosenfeld and Josh Umland celebrated their upcoming marriage from our bimah at Sof. After Josh read Torah for us we danced around the bimah (Israeli style) with a spontaneously joyous Siman Tov Mazel Tov.

The miracles are still happening at Sof Ma’arav as Sid mentioned we are on our 57th issue of Sof Ma’arav’s outstanding newsletter (four years and going strong). This has been a huge accomplishment as we thank the congregation for their constant contributions to making sure Sid has all the information he needs, our web designer, Lynley produces it, along with Lorna’s great editing skills. Adult Education is going strong. Gregg teaches us Talmud every other Shabbat on Zoom and in person. He takes us to places we never knew existed with the words of our sages. Lorna teaches Biblical Hebrew online after services. A phenomenal way to keep our Torah reading skills sharp and understandable. Line by Line she analyzes and creates the meaning of each Hebrew word. And we thank her for this. Morris does an amazing job for us with emails announcing our upcoming yahrzeits. These necessary reminders take us to a place of comfort for the loved ones we have lost.

Our Torah readers and service leaders comprise most of our minyan right now. They are our inspiration to keep Sof the same Sof even though we are in a pandemic. We remain steadfast in our safety to each other, continuing to wear masks and observing distance rules along with the vaccine mandate. We are doing the best we can and it is working for us. And finally, we have a Minyan Makers Club consisting of several new members who come into the Unitarian building to daven with us by 10:00 am so that we can recite the mourners kaddish early in the service.

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