High Holiday Thank yous!

October 17, 2023
By Keith Satter
Category: Bulletin

Dear Members,

The High Holidays are already in the rearview mirror as you are reading this and we are looking forward to an active fall and winter at Beth El. However, everyone I have talked to this fall has told me how meaningful and special their High Holiday experience was this year. Making our High Holidays look as seamless as they do, does not come about overnight and I thought I would recap for you what goes on behind the scenes as we prepare each year for the Days of Awe.

The High Holidays may be in the fall, but in actuality the preparation begins in the late Spring. This is when Rabbi Paskind prepares the list of prayers that will be recited and provides the Honors Committee with a spreadsheet detailing all available the honors. The rabbi is responsible for recruiting the Torah readers and shofar blowers. All other honors are handled by the Committee Marvin Rosenbaum and Jim Sugarman. For the last two years they have asked me to join them and it has been my pleasure.

Over the course of the entire summer, the Honors Committee meets multiple times to recognize all of those who have contributed to Beth El during the past year. It is more complicated than it sounds because people have to be matched to the appropriate honors. Honors go out in late summer and the committee then has the added task of replacing those who said they wouldn’t be present. So additional conversations are needed to fill in the gaps.

Meanwhile, our service leaders, David Loewenberg, Marguerite Felsenfeld, and Max Helfand begin working with the rabbi to understand what will be included and studying the material on their own. Even though one may lead year after year, it still requires reviewing to make the davening sound so beautiful. While this is going on, those who have Torah portions to read begin their work. Thank you all for leading us this year.

Our ushering crew comes together in late summer. I want to thank Mike Charlip for again being our head usher and our Board of Trustees for taking turns assisting with the ushering. This year we started using a new system to put honors on cards and handing them out as people arrived at shul. The Honors Committee, gabbaim and Mike met in early September to review the new system with Rabbi Paskind. This system worked very well this year and where we had honors that had not been assigned, we were able to distribute them throughout the room.

Throughout the summer Rabbi Paskind worked on no fewer than four sermons. I worked on my president’s message and Steve Stein crafted another successful holiday appeal. Our educational director, Lisa Gittelman Udi, worked with Rabbi Paskind on youth services and together they recruited youth service leaders.

Jody and Hope in the office put together the final components of our High Holidays, tickets, signage, set up directions, all the physical elements that made things look so good for the holidays. I can’t thank them enough.

When the services begin and all attention is on the bimah, that is when our Gabbai Crew goes to work. Bob Gordon and Michelle Fanwick were responsible for handing out any “open honors” and to make sure people were ready to ascend to the bimah at the appropriate time. They did a masterful job and I thank them both.

Finally, a special thank you to Rabbi Paskind. She makes it all look so easy up there, but any service is a complex combination of leading and directing and I always enjoy watching her lead these services.

Thank you to all who attended in person and joined us via the Livestream. Your presence made this year’s Beth El High Holiday services the special celebration that they were.