How our community leads 0610

Incoming President’s Message, June 2010 – Tammuz 5770

How our community leads

Friends, chaverim – I write this message in mid-June before the annual meeting.  At that meeting, our 2010-2011 Board of Directors will be introduced.  We are fortunate as a community that we have a stable board of hard-working friends who excel in diverse ways.  I have been a guest at the board meetings for the past few months and have marveled at the volunteering spirit and dedication to the community our Board members have.  But when the time came to line up and volunteer to be board president, everyone else stepped back before I could.  I am honored and thankful for the respect that the board members have shown me by encouraging me to serve as board president in the coming year.

For those who might not know me, my wife, Debbie, and I live in Willimantic about a mile from the synagogue.  We have raised our family here – 3 sons (Nate and Charlie who are college graduates and Danny who will graduate next year from the University of Buffalo) and Fay, who will be an active 2nd year student at Windham High.  Fay and her friends, a wonderful group of teen-agers, are developing a Bnai Brith Youth group that meets at our synagogue;  we invite other Jewish teens to join their group.  Both Debbie and I work at Eastern Connecticut State University;  Debbie is a student development specialist in our Advisement Center and I am a professor in our Education Department – teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in computer uses in education and a liberal art course in world religions. 

I would like to continue to be seen as just one of the congregation, being approachable and caring about your concerns and listening to how we might together create an even stronger community.  Please see my contact information below if you would have the time to talk with me.  Email sometimes is the best way to start our discussion. 

In our Torah readings this month, we have been discussing the leadership style of Moses as he faced the grumblings of the people.  They are truly in the wilderness – wandering from the known, controlled life of the slave to the unknown potentials of the future.  Moses had been told by the Deity and by his father-in-law Jethro that he should appoint others to serve as judges and leaders in the community.  Moses gathered 70 elders to serve as his representatives in the camp.  But some were impatient with his sharing of leadership – his brother Aaron and sister Miriam challenged him and were subsequently punished by the Lord and a fellow Levite named Korah led a rebellion that would fail by divine intervention.  

And then two elders, Eldad and Medad,  began to prophesize, inspire people, in the camp.  Moses’ aides, including Joshua who would become the next leader, were concerned about this perceived challenge to Moses’ leadership.  Moses’ response:  “Would that all of the people were prophets filled with the spirit of the Lord!” (Numbers 11:29)

At Temple Bnai Israel we have many inspiring, talented individuals who lead in their own quiet way.   Rav Jeremy supports this style of community for we have learned in our Reconstructionism introductory course that values-based decision-making is seen as a vital process for community development.  All are invited to participate in socially constructing our community and leading us during a changing present towards an unknowable future.  We are all prophets filled with the spirit of the Lord, if only we spend some time to hear the still, quiet voice within. 

It is not too early to begin to reflect for the high holidays on how we might change ourselves individually and our community collectively so that we can build an even brighter future.   I would be very happy to discuss with you how I might support your ideas as we collaboratively continue our wanderings in this wilderness we call Eastern Connecticut.

Have a relaxing, pleasant, healthy, and safe summer.  Hope to talk with you soon.

David Stoloff – tel. no. 860 – 450 – 1294, email:  stolofffamily@yahoo.com

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