Summer vacations are fast approaching, and some of us will be traveling or visiting places both nearby and abroad. Even those who spend the summertime at home find that they have time to read a book or simply relax in the sun. Summertime is also a time to think about and evaluate the months that have gone by. At the start of summer, each one of us should appreciate the highlights of the past year, be proud of what we have achieved, and try to make ourselves aware of what we could do better on in the year to come. For the Jewish people, the 70th birthday of the State of Israel is not only the highlight of the year but perhaps the highlight of many centuries. Though it is still embattled, Israel has become a major player in world affairs as well as the source of some of the greatest advances in technology and medical research. Despite the increase in anti-Semitism, Israel at 70 shows that the days when the Jewish people were the powerless and unwanted pariahs of the world are gone. The 70th anniversary of Israel, despite the difficulties, testifies to the success of the Zionist dream. I know that Israel wants peace with its neighbors; perhaps these dreams will also come. Closer to home, our Temple Emanu-El community experienced many wonderful moments. Our High Holiday services with the beautiful singing of the Chazzan and the choir were the equal in beauty and aesthetics of any service anywhere. I think of all of the beautiful celebrations, both religious and personal. There were many interesting classes, events, and speakers from many places. I hope you noticed that the Congregation became a lot younger. For the first time in years, we have a group of new parents rather than new grandparents, and that is truly a joy. We must in the year to come widen our core group to include new families and individuals as well as bringing many of our present members more into the circle. Judaism brings us so much, so each one of us should try to spread the word For Boni and I, some of the bright spots of the year were being with our children and grandchildren and our Temple family at the Temple dinner where we were honored for 35 years of service. Our highlights also included our journeys to Nicaragua and Ivory Coast where we were involved in over 200 conversions. Sadly, some of the converts in Nicaragua are seeking refuge after being adversely affected by the civil strife that has erupted there. We were thrilled by the Bar Mitzvahs of two grandchildren and deeply saddened by the loss of Boni’s mother Evelyn Nathan who was also a proud member of our Temple. It is my hope that despite the many problems, we realize that we have much to be grateful for and have accomplished a lot and that our people, our country and our Temple be blessed with peace and success in every way.
Rabbi Gerald Sussman