Rabbi's Column June 2019

Note: these remarks were first shared at the TBT Annual Meeting on May 14, 2019.

As I reflect upon this past year at TBT, a phrase comes to mind: “it’s all about the people.” We have been doing a lot of talking about the building – and that is critically important – but it is critically important because it is a house of the people. I want to speak tonight a bit about the people. In particular, I want to speak about the people who live here in this building, virtually 24/7. And that means the staff. This year has been like no other in TBT’s history because we have walked through it with our new Cantor.

Cantor Stanton came to us shortly after last year’s Annual Meeting. It has been a year of transition for him and for us – a year of beautiful transition as he has become a part of our TBT family. When he interviewed for the position, we knew he had a spectacular voice. He still does. It has been enriching us, elevating our joyous moments and softening the blows of the difficult moments. What we have come to learn is that Cantor Stanton has a fabulous sense of humor, a generous, generous spirit, a big caring heart, a love of our children and a love for people of all ages. In just one year, Cantor Stanton has become family. Our thanks to him for his dedication and commitment to us.

I do believe that this June marks an anniversary. A blessed anniversary at that. We are celebrating the 5th anniversary of Kim Romine’s tenure as our Temple Administrator. Kim has a heart of gold. She also has an obsession for organization and numbers. It is an extraordinary combination. She is able to combine billing and statements and dues and payments with heart and love and soul. How fortunate we are. And Kim’s talents go beyond that as you can see her climbing to clean the gutters, noticing every nook and cranny of our fragile building, keeping her office window open so she can delight in the sounds of our Nursery School children playing in the playground – Kim is everywhere, caring for every member of this holy congregation. Thank you, Kim, for everything you do.

Bonnie Mahon is a professional in customer service and she is the first line of welcome, both at the door and on the phone. Bonnie is always happy to see you, to help you, to respond to any and every request that is made of her. As a special bonus: she loves our Hebrew School children. She knows them all by name – and she knows you by name, too. How lucky we are.

Our staff team also includes our Custodial team of Len & Dyanna and now Steven, too. Len sets up our social hall for onegs, for dinners, for special programs. He cleans the sanctuary and even polishes the Torah silver. He does it all with pleasure. Dyanna is with us every Shabbat, making oneg hosting an easy mitzvah for our members. And Steven is new to our Nursery School and their custodial needs.

Speaking of the Nursery School, we are in the midst of an enormous transition. Bernadette Stak, our Nursery School Director for the past 24 years, is leaving at the end of this school year. Bernadette is the engine behind the TBT Nursery School having such an extraordinary reputation in the community, and her children are your children, many of whom have gone on from the Nursery School to graduate from High School and college, and get married and have children. I can’t tell you how many people around town tell me that they or their children are graduates of our Nursery School.

But time marches on and changes do happen. Thanks to the guiding force of Peter Chorney and Deb Coe at the helm of our Education Committee, we have hired a brilliant successor to Bernadette. Jen Casillo is already doing her magic with the Nursery School, and I hope that everyone here at TBT can begin to know her as we have begun to know her.

TBT is all about the people. The staff….and the congregants who create holy community whenever you enter our doors. Together, we have done extraordinary things this past year, and we can look forward to a promising year ahead.

Rabbi Offner