When I was asked to do this, I was reluctant but after thinking about it, I realized that our synagogue is at a fork in the road with many differing thoughts on where we go from here. It is important that others among us understand why I believe that we must continue in our quest to grow NO MATTER WHAT.
My belief is that it is not fair to our historic membership who built this temple and the children who depend on it now to promote an attitude that times have changed and our temple roots and dreams are no longer relevant. Our magnificent tabernacle on the shores of Lake Hollingsworth gives us something special to identify with and be very proud of. Although it has been bruised and needs a facelift, it is well worth the efforts to restore it and to seek ways to attract much needed growth.
My Dad, Nathan, my Uncle Sam, and my Grandfather Harris (my namesake) are all SIGNERS of the original Temple Emanuel charter located in the upper rotunda above us. My cousins Melvin and Selig and their children were Bar Mitzvahed here. I was Bar Mitzvahed and confirmed here. My sister was confirmed here. Both my sons, Kevin and Greg, and my daughter, Erica, were Bar and Bat Mitzvahed and confirmed here. And, to top it off, Jake and Max, two of my grandsons, are scheduled to be Bar Mitzvahed here within a few years. That’s five generations of participation by the Estroff family chain that hopefully will continue.
Please, let’s not stagger the family tree of life due to apathy, assimilation, nor shortsightedness. It is time to start repairing our synagogue for the long haul and gearing it toward the needs of OUR JEWISH congregants of the future. We need lots of help: financial, physical and spiritual. Let’s get the ball rolling towards a better than ever Temple Emanuel by emphasizing interesting programs that promise GROWTH and PARTICIPATION. Determined people working together can do anything! Temple Emanuel means the world to me. I hope it means enough to others to pitch in to renew its vigor and vitality.