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From Our President: September 29, 2023

09/27/2023 11:55:20 AM

Sep27

Shana Tova and welcome to Bnai Israel Synagogue.  My name is Amy DeLoach and I am the President of the Congregation. Today, as I stand before you, I am filled with pride and gratitude. Our journey as a community, from Eastern Europe in 1898 to the heart of Wilmington, North Carolina, has been nothing short of remarkable.

In early November, we will be celebrating our 125th anniversary.  Imagine the pride our founders would have in seeing our synagogue today.  We have kept the traditions of our Conservative faith alive while slowly and thoughtfully modernizing our practices to current Conservative standards.

There are those of us here today, whose ancestors in 1898 gathered on Walnut Street in a service conducted almost entirely in Hebrew to form Bnai Israel Congregation.   When we were just starting out, it was an Orthodox community bound by faith and tradition. Women sat separately from men and most members lived nearby so that they could walk to the Synagogue for Shabbat.  We have come far from those early days.   Back then, the thought of women standing on the bimah seemed impossible, and music was considered a disruption rather than a celebration.

In one of my visits to Israel, I remember a speaker who described why Jews have always survived against what seems impossible odds.  Jews have always worked within the society they are living by contributing at all levels to strengthen it and while maintaining their identity.  This can be seen in how Jews contribute to the arts, the education world, the political world and in many other ways.  We work within the boundaries of society to make it the best it can be.  We have done the same within our Synagogue.   

But today, we stand here, still celebrating our rich culture with prayers and traditions thousands of years old while respecting the societal rules in which we now live.  We have welcomed progress and inclusivity. We now celebrate the rich tapestry of our congregation, embracing the talents and voices of everyone.

Our music, once silenced by tradition, now fills this sacred space with harmonious melodies that resonate with our diverse community. It is a reminder that music has the power to unite and uplift us all.

As we reflect on our journey, let us remember that progress is not always easy, but it is essential. We have learned that embracing equality, diversity, and the power of music enriches our congregation and strengthens our bond as a community.

I have recently reflected on what the founders of Bnai Israel congregation’s hopes and thoughts were for our future. I like to believe that they would be proud of what they see here today.  I think of how I would like to see the next 125 years and, of course, it would be that Bnai Israel is a part of a much larger and thriving Jewish Community.  That we stay steadfast to our Conservative values but embrace the entire Jewish community around us. 

Today our Synagogue is in a place of strength.  We are financially strong; our membership is growing and as we have seen during these High Holidays there are children once again running around the Shul.  This strength comes from the hard work of the Rabbi and I want to thank her for all that she does to make our Synagogue so inviting and enriching.  In addition to the rabbi, I am extremely appreciative of our Board.  They work tirelessly, and more importantly, are good stewards of our finances. I would like to introduce the Board to you now, please stand up when I call your name.

  • Jon Alper
  • Pam Sender
  • Nancy Kraselsky
  • Laurel Westreich
  • Felice Zeldin
  • Billy Hirschen
  • Scott Johnston
  • Hal Throne
  • Diane Gerberg
  • Phil Sassoon
  • Liz Berger
  • Walter Winter who has served on the Board of Bnai Israel Congregation for the last 50 years. 

And now, as we enter the High Holy Days, a time of reflection and renewal, I must humbly request your support. The path we have chosen, one of inclusivity, progress and long-term ability or strength to grow requires resources. It is your generosity that enables us to continue down this path forward, to maintain our vibrant community, and to ensure that future generations benefit from the strides we have made.

I must be honest.  I need your help.  We are all in this together. I ask you to open your hearts and your wallets during this sacred time, as a symbol of your commitment to our shared values and vision. Your contributions will allow us to carry our message of equality, faith, and unity even further.

Thank you, and may our congregation continue to flourish and inspire for generations to come.

L'shana tova umetuka, a sweet and joyful New Year to you all

Amy DeLoach, President

 

Sun, March 3 2024 23 Adar I 5784