And the honoree is…..

April 28, 2024
By Rabbi Ita Paskind
Category: Bulletin

A Tribute to Stuart Garrelick

On Sunday morning, April 28, at the 2024 Annual Meeting, our Congregation Beth El honored Dr. Stuart Garrelick as our 2023-24 Volunteer of the Year.  And in these (digital) pages, I want to take the opportunity to share that tribute to Stuart with everyone, in case you missed it.

Stuart could have been honored as Volunteer of the Year last year, or the year before that, or really any year over the course of many decades.  But he was honored this year, as his term on the Board of Trustees came to a close.

For the last TWENTY YEARS, Stuart has attended every board meeting–most of them in person, and in the last 4 years on Zoom.  When any President has asked: “Does anyone have any questions?”, Stuart would always raise his hand.  We have relied on Stuart for decades to point out potential risks or problems in any situation, and we have counted on him for his endearing, generally curmudgeonly approach.

But Stuart hasn’t just been a presence on our Board.  He single-handedly ran and sort-of-continues-to-run our Social Committee (anyone willing to take the reins?) and for-sure-single-handedly leads our annual Comedy Night, one of the highlights of the year at our shul.  In his role as a leader, Stuart has been on a mission to help us all have fun as a community.

But Stuart has a (somewhat) more serious side, too.  He deeply values showing up for community.  In particular, he and Mary are regular participants at Friday evening services.  It’s important to them to show up for their own life cycle moments, especially yahrzeits; but most weeks, they are there to ensure that we have a minyan so that anyone else who needs to say Kaddish can do so.

There’s one other area where Stuart has contributed very meaningfully in our shul, and that is in the area of social justice.  Tikkun Olam–repairing the world–is a beautiful Jewish value, and Stuart has rightly felt motivated to right injustices wherever they may be–whether in the Jewish community or outside of it.  Stuart pushed our congregation to join Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut (CONECT) in 2017, worked for years on the Norwalk Immigration Coalition, and helped to form our CBE Social Action Committee, where he remains an active member.

Stuart is one of those congregants who doesn’t just toss out an idea; he makes it happen.  And although he’s stepping down from the Board, luckily for us he’s not going anywhere!

Stuart, thank you for your commitment to our Beth El.  You continue to be a passionate advocate for our shul and the communities surrounding us.  Mazal Tov on this well-deserved honor!