Monday, July 9, 2012

Presiding for the Congregation

So, on July 1st I officially became President of Congregation Adas Emuno of Leonia, New Jersey. For those of you unfamiliar with the geography, the synagogue is located in northern New Jersey, just over the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan.  And our temple is affiliated with the Reform branch of Judaism, which is to say it is liberal and progressive in its orientation toward religion, and life.

Adas Emuno was found in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1871, by German Jewish immigrants, making it one of the oldest congregations in our state.  And the temple building in Hoboken, built in 1883, is the oldest surviving synagogue building in New Jersey, and considered a historical landmark:

The congregation moved to Leonia in 1974, into a church building purchased from the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (the Hoboken building was purchased by a Christian congregation, and has since been turned into residential housing).  The present building is rather unusual in that the exterior retains the church steeple, but with a Star of David on top, rather than a cross.

Adas Emuno, alternately written as Adath Emuno (in the very early days of the congregation) is Hebrew in the Ashkenazi dialect of Yiddish-speaking, European Jews, and it can be translated as Assembly of the Faithful. Of course, if you've been reading this blog for a while, you've seen me post about Adas Emuno before, on a number of occasions. Actually, my labels gadget over on the side lists 47 posts tagged with Adas Emuno (and this makes 48). 

So, how did I become president? Well, I was asked to serve on the Board of Trustees back in 2006, and to serve as Vice-President in 2010. There is no automatic succession to the presidency in our by-laws, so when I was asked if I would take over for the next two years, I had the opportunity to turn the offer down, and I did have to think about it before the annual meeting when officers were elected (to two-year terms), which was on June 20th. 

Back in May, I first met with the Westchester social media professional Robin Colner, to talk about Fordham's new Professional Studies in New Media program, and at the close of our conversation, I noted that she had formerly worked for the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York, asked if I could get her thoughts on my possibly serving as president. And I mentioned the fact that I didn't think of myself as being the right kind of person to be president of a congregation, that what a synagogue would need would be someone who knows about business and finance, has the resources to be a big donor, or at least is a lawyer, or maybe an accountant. And Robin said that, in her experience, the thing that mattered most is that the person really cares about the synagogue. 

Well, the bottom line is that Adas Emuno is a small congregation, they needed me, and I do care. So that's how I came to be president. Wish me luck, and prayers are, naturally enough, welcome!

1 comment:

Mike Plugh said...

It's a beautiful commitment and I think promises plenty of enduring rewards. Congrats and good luck!