Our Wishes to Ted Greenwood

30 May

Our Wishes to Ted Greenwood

Israel Engagement Committee, May 2013

Saying goodbye is never easy; saying goodbye to one of our closest friends is even harder. Ted Greenwood, a pioneer and champion of our partnership program is officially stepping down as Chair of the Israel Engagement Committee as he and his wife move to Boston this summer. While Ted and Dru will continue to be great friends and advocates of our Gateways and Tents partnership, we will miss their day-to-day leadership and presence in our community. We know that Shaaray Tefila and Ohel Avraham-Leo Baeck will always have a special place in Ted’s heart, and Ted will always have a special place in ours.

Thank you Ted for everything you have done to get this program on the right track. You have touched the lives of all who have participated and all who will participate in the future. Good luck in your journey and know that you always have a home in New York and Haifa.

Below is a video presented to Ted by Rabbi Gabby Dagan on the occasion of Ted’s volunteer of the year recognition at Shaaray Tefila:

Below are Ted’s remarks to the Shaaray Tefila Community on May 22, 2013:

“For me it has been a pleasure and a privilege to have been part of the first phase of the exciting journey that Shaaray Tefila and Ohel Avraham/Leo Baeck are now embarked upon together.

I am not sure that everyone here understands fully what we now have and where this can go.  So, I ask your indulgence for a few minutes more while I try to explain.

What we have

  • We are the only synagogue in New York, in the United States, and in the world with a close, deep, mutual and expanding relationship with the only reform synagogue in Israel that has associated with it a school, namely Congregation Ohel Avraham
  • We also have a close, deep, mutual and expanding relationship with the only school in Israel associated with the reform movement and committed to the reform approach to  Judaism, namely the Leo Baeck Education Center
  • Moreover, Ohel Avraham and Leo Baeck want to maintain, deepen and expand their relationship with us as much as we want to expand our relationship with them and for the same reason.
  • What is that reason?  It is captured in the mission statement of the UJA Committee on Global Jewish Peoplehood, without whose financial support we could not have done what we have done:

To develop experiences which foster a shared sense of belonging and commitment to the diverse Jewish collective, in New York, Israel and around the world through exploration of our common history, Jewish values and shared destiny.

–        For us in New York, this goal could be pursued through a relationship with a synagogue anywhere.  But it is best done by a relationship with a synagogue and school in Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people.

–        Ohel Avraham also could pursue this goal through a relationship with a synagogue and school anywhere and, indeed Leo Baeck has relationships with schools around the world.  But they appreciate that this is best done by a relationship with a synagogue and its school in the United States and, within the United States, in New York.  That synagogue and school did not have to be Shaaray Tefila but it is Shaaray Tefila.

  • Yes, we have a unique relationship and this relationship has the potential to transform us in exactly the way that the BKY task force envisioned in 2010: we now have the opportunity, through our partnership with Ohel Avraham and Leo Baeck to become a congregation largely of “Israel-Engaged” congregants

–        With knowledge about Israel’s history and current reality;

–        With attitudes that engage us with Israel and its people; and

–        With behaviors that expresses this knowledge and these attitudes.

  • I want to emphasize that we have this relationship not only because of the commitment and actions of Shaaray Tefila’s professional staff and lay leadership but also because of the support that we have been fortunate to receive from the UJA federation of New York’s committee on global Jewish Peoplehood.
  • One of the most exciting and visible components of the partnership is the wonderful youth exchange that began this year.  But we have much more than a teen exchange program.

–        We have a connection between our school and Leo Baeck that began this year with fourth grade and is planned to expand year by year to eventually cover all grades.

–        We have connections between clergy that provides opportunities for joint worship, celebration and study.

–        We have a joint website and facebook page that fosters communications.

–        We are encouraging adult and family travel back and forth.  This has already begun on a small scale but it can grow.

Where we can go

  • We have plans to do much more:

–        To expand the school-to-school connections to include not only all grades but also parents and to include the nursery school;

–        To connect bnai mitzvah students and their families;

–        To engage in joint study;

–        To engage in joint social action projects; and

–        We could bring a Leo Baeck high school student to Shaaray Tefila for three months each year through the Leo Baeck youth ambassador program to work with the school, be part of the youth group, and be our own shaliach, emissary from Israel.  How cool would that be!

  • All of this can come to be.  And it can be transformative of Shaaray Tefila.  It will require the continuing support of the rabbis, the cantors, the rest of the professional staff, and the lay leadership.  So far the extent of that support has been “amazing,” to use one of Rabbi Gabby Dagan’s favorite words.  It needs to continue and to include continuing financial support.
  • The support from the UJA will not last forever; in fact it will last for only a handful of years, fewer than we once thought because a change in policy by the committee.

–        Because the UJA support will not go on for more than a handful of years, the temple’s financial support must grow from year to year, not by a lot but by enough so that when the UJA’s incredible support is reduced and ends, our relationship with Ohel Avraham and Leo Baeck will be so ingrained into the life and budget of the congregation that it will just

–        We are not talking about a lot of money.  But the financial support must be sustained and it must become part of the regular budget of the youth program, the school, the nursery school, the Israel engagement committee, the adult education committee, Nashim, the social action committee, the ritual committee and others.

–        Our relationship with Ohel Avraham and Leo Baeck can come to permeate the life of the congregation.  If it does, then Israel — and more generally the reality of Global Jewish Peoplehood — will come to permeate the lives of all of our congregants.

That is the vision; that is the opportunity.  I will not be here to see it realized or to help make it happen but I have complete confidence that others – all of you — will do so.”

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