Rosh Hashanah 5777 message from President Ken Goss:
Shanah Tovah U’metukah. I am truly honored and privileged to be serving this shul as president. I want to thank each one of you for this opportunity. Looking out at the congregation today and seeing such large crowds is exciting. Some of you may not know me, so please allow me a few moments to tell you a little about myself.
I grew up in a small suburb of Los Angeles near Pasadena. My family was very active in our Conservative shul. In fact there were many days when I felt I was there more than I was at home. Back then the synagogue was the center of our Jewish community. We had Hebrew School, junior congregation, youth groups, social activities and even Cub Scouts. There was something warm and welcoming in being part of that community. I attended college and grad school in Los Angeles, and while studying for a year in Israel was fortunate to meet Karen, who was a girl from Southfield. We started our family on the West Coast, but after 10 years we made the wise decision to move here to Michigan to be closer to her family. Although sometimes I joke and tell people we moved here for the weather, although looking outside at the beginning of the autumn colors, the seasons are not bad to experience.
We joined Adat Shalom for the same reason as did many of you. We found this large shul to be warm and welcoming. This is not always the case when new members join congregations, especially in larger synagogues. In Hebrew there are a few terms for synagogue, and one is a BEIT KNESSET, literally a house of gathering or assembly. Adat Shalom is that type of house, with activities to span all ages. Just imagine how fun it is to watch, or even more so to participate in a program for infants who are just a few months old. These types of programs, involving parents and grandparents, continue here for toddlers. What can be better than connecting to 2 or 3 generations all the same time here at shul.
We have 149 Pre-K through 7th grade students learning and experiencing here in the Adat Shalom Beth Achim learning center. Coming up during the fall, families with school age children can have the joy of experiencing havdalah together, as a family and also as a community at “Saturday Night Lights.” During the summer there is “Shabbat in Sun” with the same opportunity to enjoy a freilach Shabbat experience together. We have almost 100 families whose children attend Hillel Day School, and our clergy are there having lunch and connecting with those students beginning in Hillel’s ECC through 8th grade. Despite the many challenges of connecting to and inspiring the next generations, I can honestly say Adat Shalom has one of the strongest and best programs around. That is why Adat Shalom took on the ATID high school program this year, as it is so important to keep connecting to our children. Something new and innovative is our 9th through 12th grade dual-enrollment Hebrew partnership with Eastern Michigan University for credit.
We have a vibrant and growing young adult community here that serves singles, young families, with and without children. Our Empty Nesters group has a feeling of a chavurah. Many whose children don’t presently live in the area get together for activities. There are book clubs and lunchtime learning sessions. If you feel stressed, try Meditation & Mindfulness or Soulful Yoga. I have only touched the surface of all the activities we offer.
Our Sisterhood and Men’s Club work hard to make Adat Shalom inclusive, fun and hamisch – place where friends and family come together to share experiences. In the foyer, take look at the table with all our own activity flyers and posters. Check out The Voice, our weekly “Happenings,” and our website along, with the flyers that come to you in the mail. We are want you to get involved. If you are interested in a program that you don’t see offered, perhaps you are not alone. Contact us to see if it is doable, help us be your Beit Knesset.
Another Hebrew word for synagogue is Beit Tefillah, a house of prayer. The word for prayer (lehitpallel) in Hebrew is reflexive, an action done to ourselves. We try to find an avenue to look at ourselves and be inspired to be good people. Not only can people be touched and inspired in a traditional service, they can do soulful yoga, learn about the parsha, and bring their children to a PJ library program.
Our clergy, Rabbi Bergman, Rabbi Shere, Rabbi Yoskowitz, and Hazzan Gross are here to support us, both at simchas and in times of need or sadness. They are wise and caring and want to connect. Individually and collectively they can enrich our lives.
The Board of Directors and Executive Committee invest many hours in overseeing the operation of this 80,000 square foot facility. Adat Shalom has an annual operating budget of close to $2.6 million. Under the capable direction of our Executive Director, Alan Yost, we stretch every dollar. We all take our fiduciary liability very seriously. Last year as an oversight, we had an audit review, and we found that we are indeed accurate and responsible. With close to 1000 families only 45% of this $2.6 million dollars is raised by dues, and the balance comes through contributions and donations. In past years through peoples’ generosity, we have been able to resurface and replace driveways, parking lots and concrete walkaways, install LED lighting in the building to provide high energy efficiency, be financially responsible and environmentally friendly. We were able to make improvements to the decorative, acoustical wall paneling in the Main Sanctuary, and renovate the Social Hall. This year on Yom Kippur we will spearhead the replacement of our Social Hall chairs, which, by the way, are the original chairs that are 40 years old. Please perform a mitzvah, bring in your appeal cards, and be generous.
Our office and school staff is kind, knowledgeable and welcoming. One thing I noticed from the beginning is that everyone here, both staff and volunteers, wants to make Adat Shalom the best it can be – a warm, inviting, inclusive shul based in Conservative values and traditions. Help them, get involved and make this synagogue an extension of your home and family.
I can honestly say there is not a maintenance staff that takes more pride in making a synagogue shine. When walking through the hallways, introduce yourselves, and say thank you.
I hope you all have the same experience as I do when I walk into the building. Seeing people young and older with smiles on their faces enjoying being and participating here at Adat Shalom.
From the bottom of my heart, again thank you for allowing me to help lead this exemplary synagogue. On behalf of your Board of Directors, Executive Committee and my family, I wish you a Shanah Tovah U’metukah – a year filled with peace, health, sweetness and success.