Starting the Year: Our President’s View Erev Rosh Hashanah 9/9/2018

Contributed by Sandra Armstrong

L’Shanah Tovah to all of you here tonight. And may we be blessed with a sweet new year full of laughter, joy, life and celebration.

Today we welcome you and your families and friends. Members, potential members, visitors, and guests

We are a proud congregation who has been together for 47 years. We are also unique in that we are the only Conservative shul on Oahu that is egalitarian, where both men and women are welcome to lead services and read from the Torah every Shabbat. We average 40-50 people each week.

Our children are part of our Sof community and have formed a separate entity within ours. The giggles and voices of young children learning what it means to be Jewish is beautiful music coming out of our adjacent library.

As we move into 5779 tonight let us remember all the good we did in 5778 as I name a few…

Our newly created newsletter keeps us informed and unifies us in thought and action.

Five new Torah readers were launched.

A Comprehensive Sof History project comes to completion and will be published this year.

Introductory, beginning, and intermediate Biblical Hebrew courses continue to be offered.

Weekly Talmud study after the Oneg.

Delicious Mr. & Mrs. Potlucks.

A popular, long-running Book Club.

Positive and consistent participation in Family Promise to help those in need for food and shelter.

An active 15-member board along with eight committee members, including a new board position to welcome our snowbirds.

A party shul that gives us the opportunity to truly celebrate our lives together with great joy, as recently as Don’s 10 years of presidency, and before that Bernice’s 10 years with “hats on” for Bernice.

This year, we will celebrate again together in honor of Marlene Booth and Avi Soifer, who are our nominees for the Jewish Community Service dinner on Sunday, November 4th. Please save the date.

We have a High Holy Day choir and wonderful Rabbi Rosalind Glazer, who you will hear from shortly

Bikkur Cholim comforting and visiting the ill.

Torah and Talmud sessions every Saturday before services. When you hear laughter and passionate voices, the conversation is as powerful as the words we study.

Yarzheit reminders and a memory book read weekly with names of our loved ones.

We have representatives for Chevra Kadisha – Jewish Burial Preparation Practices here on Oahu.

Unpredictable as life can be, 10 of us and more are a comfort to those families who need our support both at shiva minyans and graveside funerals.

We bond together in life for those moments when a doorway closes as our loved ones pass away and we must say goodbye. But we do not say goodbye alone. NO, because we are a loving community that takes care of each other especially in times of need. No one should be alone in their loss of a loved one. Through Sof Ma’arav, we are comforted and not isolated in grief, and when the tears stop flowing and the mourners look around again, they know that they will never truly be alone.

And today, I stand before you as your new president to say that each and every one of you is important to the rest of us. For whatever your participation at Sof Ma’arav, we are grateful. Jews are tribal. All members of the tribe are included on whatever level they choose at whatever time they choose. Let us all enter into the Days of Awe together as a strong unit of prosperity, positive change, and good health.

As we read in yesterday’s parsha, Nitzavim, G-d has handpicked each one of us in His/Her own way to be the BEST they can be as humans on earth. We need not take a rocket ship up to heaven when truly G-d is in this place and in each of our hearts.

If you are new to Congregation Sof Ma’arav this evening, please join us in the adjacent oneg room so that we can properly welcome you and learn your names.