From JCCH President Keith Satter
One of the bedrocks of Judaism is the longing, or maybe I should say, requirement, that we perpetuate our beliefs and traditions from one generation to the next. I have always found it comforting to think that the traditions we hold so dear and the prayers we recite today are the exact ones that our ancestors recited over the centuries. So often, our prayers contain the phrase l’dor v’dor, from one generation to the next.
This transmission of our beliefs and customs has been a cornerstone of synagogues going back to the Temple in Jerusalem, and it has certainly been a major goal of the JCCH over the years, but with particular emphasis this past year. Nothing does my heart prouder that to hear our young people recite our prayers and participate in our rituals.
In considering how to celebrate this transmission, we chose as a theme for this year L’dor v’dor. And to give special meaning to it, we have chosen three couples, who have not only contributed to the JCCH over the years, but who represent to me, the passing of the torch from one generation to the next.
Leo and Joan Gilberg represent the founding generation of our synagogue, having joined the JCCH nearly 50 years ago. Leo is a past president and lifetime board member. He has held a variety of positions at the synagogue and is viewed as the keeper of synagogue history. A regular Torah reader and scholar, people look forward to his stories always connecting the current parsha to either current events or past history. At his side all these years has been his wife, Joan, herself a major contributor to the JCCH and former Sisterhood president.
Marty Rogoswsky grew up at the JCCH, having attended our religious school and had his Bar Mitzvah in our sanctuary. A businessman and politician, Marty has been an important part of our leadership having served as co-president and president, which enabled him to make use of both sets of skills. He and Tobi have been married for 34 years. Tobi has been a very big part of the JCCH as well, serving in a variety of leadership positions including board member, Sisterhood president and, currently, Chairman of the Board.
Rick and Marci Caplan represent the next generation of parents at the JCCH. Their children have come up through the religious school ranks and have celebrated their B’nai Mitzvah with us at our synagogue. Marci is a board member, co-chairs the Kehilah School Board with an emphasis on building our teen program. Rick is a former officer of the synagogue and has assisted us the last year in a variety of roles all designed to make the administration of the synagogue run smoothly.
The JCCH would simply be a building without the efforts of so many people. Our three honoree couples exemplify the tradition of generation to generation. On behalf of our congregation, I congratulate them on their accomplishments which we so justly honor tonight.
From Rabbi Eytan Hammerman
What an honor to pause in our busy day-to-day lives and take this time to appropriately celebrate the cumulative 100+ years of dedication of Leo and Joan Gilberg, Marty and Tobi Rogowsky and Rick and Marci Caplan to the Jewish Community Center of Harrison. We celebrate all that these six individuals have done for this congregation, all that they continue to do and all that will be inherited by future generations because of their efforts on behalf of the congregation, past and present.
Our gala is well-timed this year, taking place just after the Festival of Shavuot, a holiday that has always celebrated the first harvest of the year. Just as our ancestors took time aside to give thanks for that harvest – the first, but not the last of the season – so, too, should we celebrate what has been accomplished while also recognizing the harvests still to come. Our six honorees, each in their own way, give generously of their talent and time so that we might create a Jewish Community Center/synagogue to serve those in our Jewish community and beyond. We recognize and express our heartfelt gratitude for the multitude of ways they have contributed to our community.
When our Torah speaks of the way in which our Israelite ancestors gave of what they had to build and support the Tabernacle – which served as their portable synagogue structure – it says that the people brought what their hearts moved them to give for the sake of building a center for the religious life of the people. Our six honorees understand well what it means to be moved by their hearts in the wonderfully fulfilling work of strengthening our congregation. They have given of their time with extraordinary generosity because they appreciate how irreplaceable our synagogue is for the many people who turn to the JCCH for celebration, solace, light and hope. Our honorees have led with their full hearts and we are a better community because of that.
I am personally grateful for the vision and commitment that they bring to our sacred community and for the myriad ways that each of our honorees has helped me, too many to list on this page.
The Talmud teaches that “a human being must either climb up or climb down.” What is true of human beings is also true of organizations and institutions. For our synagogue, climbing down is not an option. Fortunately, we have our honorees such as these whose energy, vision and devotion drive us to climb higher to ensure a strong future.
Mazal Tov to our outstanding honorees! Hazak-Hazak -- May we all go from strength to strength!
With love and appreciation,
Rabbi Eytan Hammerman