Monday, September 3, 2012

Congregation and Community

Since Blog Time Passing is my official blog of record, I figured I would share my recent local newspaper quote, which I gave in my capacity as President of Congregation Adas Emuno, which as you may recall is a Reform temple in Bergen County, New Jersey, located in the town of Leonia.  And Leonia, unlike many other towns, has its own weekly newspaper, Leonia Life, which is published by the North Jersey Media Group, which also owns The Record, formerly known as the Bergen Record, a major New York Metropolitan Area daily, albeit one that is little known east of the Hudson (although their photo of firefighters raising the American flag in the aftermath of 9/11 in a pose resembling the famous Iwo Jima picture is widely recognized), and the Herald News, formerly the Passaic Herald News.

So, apart from and independent of the fact that my quote was published by the paper, it's great to see that the local community press is still alive and kicking.  And, of course,

it was very gratifying for me to see that Adas Emuno was featured as the front page story of last week's issue of Leonia Life.  Dated Friday, August 24th, the article by Raeshelle Middleton is entitled Leonia congregation reconnects as summer nears end.  You can click on the title to read the article over on site, or read it here.

The article was about a special event that 
we held, an Ice Cream Social, which was mainly for our religious school.  It took place on Sunday August 19 , and here's how the article begins:

The congregation at Adas Emuno hosted an ice cream social Aug. 19, to connect with members of the community.

Attendees included families who were already members of the synagogue, and the event allowed members to have the opportunity to reconnect after the summer.

The social was also a celebration to introduce the new cantor, Allison Lopatin, and new religious school director, Annice Benamy.

Tours were given of the synagogue and of the religious school as prospective members of the synagogue inquired about some of the new programs offered, with a special focus on the youth program.

A picture accompanies the article, credited to photographer Danielle Parhizkaran, with the caption, "Rabbi Barry Schwartz with kids and their balloons at the Adas Emuno ice cream social on Aug. 19."  The Rabbi is in the middle, holding the Jewish star made from balloons, and over on the right is David Benamy, the husband of our new religious school director Annice Benamy (I served as chair of our search committee back in May and June), and our temple's new Youth Group adviser.

Returning to the article, it continues with a quote from Rabbi Schwartz:

"We feel that our religious school is the jewel and the crown of our little congregation here," said Rabbi Barry Schwartz.

And now the moment you've been waiting for, the quote from me: 

"We are a part of the community and we've always been involved with the community," said Lance Strate, the president of the congregation. "This has been a Leonia institution for many decades now. This is a way for us to connect, reconnect and bond with our community."

Now that we have that out of the way, let's move on to a quote from Annice Benamy:

Parents attended with their children and there was ice cream for everyone with many different toppings to choose from. There were also balloon animals being made for the children and different types of arts and crafts available for them to participate in.
"Anything a synagogue does is for its congregants, so it's not about the leadership or the professional staff but it's about what we can do for the community to make them feel more connected to their synagogue," Benamy said.

The article also includes a quote from one of our guests:

"I thought it was a good way to introduce yourself to the temple. It looks like a cozy, nice and friendly congregation," said Richard Kaplan, visiting from Gutenberg with his wife, Myriam. "We were looking at the Hebrew school for our son Joshua. He is going to the third grade, and third grade is the time when you start formal religious training."

And it continues with a mention of upcoming events:

The temple hosts different events open to the rest of the community throughout the year. At Hanukkah, the synagogue hosts another event open to the community followed by a Jazz concert, and there is also an interfaith Thanksgiving service. The synagogue is also planning a film screening for the award-winning documentary "Connected" Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. The film focuses on how all things in the world are connected and pays special attention the filmmaker's own experiences. Rabbi Schwartz expressed that the doors are open to people of all faiths who are interested.

 The plug for our screening contributed to an exceptional turnout for our latest Havdallah Talk event.  The article concludes with a quote from one of our longstanding congregants, and someone I count as a friend:

"I have three of my kids here ages 11, 14 and 20. I got to see people that I really don't get to see which is nice," said Eric Fisher. "I think it's a wonderful thing that they've done. We've been attending for 15 years. I think the fact that the congregation is expanding and the services that it's offering to all age groups is really important, because the kids are the future."

And here's a better look at how the article appeared on the front page of Leonia Life:

And there you have it, a nice little bit of publicity for Congregation Adas Emuno, and a nice little excuse for a new blog post!

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