Why am I here? Really, why am I here?
Before I answer that, allow me to first welcome everyone with a Shana Tova. Happy New Year! I am so happy to see so many members, visitors, past members and guests.
If you don’t know me, my name is Terry Sigle. My wife, Michelle and 3 girls, Zoe, McKenzie and Jenna have been members of Adat Chaverim for 19 years.
Actually, Jenna came along a year after we joined, of which some of you remember. Zoe is living in Colorado now, but I’m so happy to have the rest of the family here today.
So, maybe my original question should be why am I STILL here?
A quick story.
Back in August of 2004, a couple of friends and I were working on a project. It had been going on for several months. It involved many late nights, in fact, we were greeted by the sunrise a couple of times as we departed to go home to our real jobs.
There was mounting pressure as the deadline quickly approached. It involved a lot of trial and error, creativity, attention to details, blood, yes blood, sweat and tears. Sounds pretty miserable, yes? I didn’t view it as work, rather I viewed it as a labor of love.
That project, was just a part of a bigger project. In fact, I am standing on the outcome of one of those projects, what we’ve known as our Bimah.
A bimah that saw it’s first service as Hannah Skolnick become Bat Mitzvah.
A Bimah that’s seen countless Friday Night Shabbats, roughly 5,131.
A Bimah that’s embraced:
- B’nai Mitzvah’s of our children and adults
- Baby Namings
- 1st Grade Consecrations
- Graduations of our High Schoolers, during a wonderful Bagrut service
- Purim schpiels
- … and given comfort to those families and friends during times of loss.
I know what everyone is thinking, when do we get the new Bimah in our new home, 4 miles north. But before we rush that, I hope everyone can take a moment to reflect on your personal events, your personal Simcha’s that you have experienced on this bimah.
Back to my question of “why am I hear?”. As I talk with you this morning, take a moment to ask yourself, why am I here?
This past year has been filled with many simchas, moments of blessings.
We celebrated as a congregation as over 20 of our children became B’nai Mizvah. We also celebrated as we had 2 adult B’nai Mitzvahs. 6 high school completed our Religious School program during Bagrut. We enjoyed our annual tradition of an original Adat Chaverim Purim Shpiel. We came together as a community of friends as our membership, religious practices committees, Women of Adat Chaverim and Brotherhood created countless programs and dinners.
We selected a local construction firm to begin preliminary plans for our new home, thanks to our capital campaign committee’s hard work. We also eclipsed over $1M in capital campaign gifts. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible.
We have also had some sad moments this past year. We have come together as a community to comfort each other and mourn the passing of too many loved ones, both members and close friends and families of our community.
As we look towards this next year, it will be very busy, and it may seem at times, a bit crazy, as we continue our work towards a new permanent home.
Yes, we have many challenges and questions. When will we build? What will we build? How will we afford that? Can we speed up? Can we slow down?
In 2004, we had those same questions, as we built out this space. Yes at the outset, it seemed impossible. But we did make it happen with everyone’s help, with a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and yes, many gifts. You have probably heard us say before…we will build what we can, with what we have. All options stand before us, as they range from a single building to a full campus. Pledges and gifts to date of $1.7M has allowed us purchase land and create design options. Now we must build. So, how will we choose what we build? Honestly, what we can build will be based on large gifts by a few…. But these gifts…these gifts need to be supported by the commitment from all.
A passage from our Shabbat Service, reads:
Standings on the parted shores of history we still believe what we were taught before ever we stood at Sinai’s foot; that wherever we go, it is eternally Egypt that this is a better place, a promised land; that the winding way to that promise passes through the wilderness. That there is no way to get from here to there except by joining hands, marching together.
And this is what we, as Adat Chaverim, have always been about.
Under David Baier’s leadership, the Capital Campaign committee will help us navigate, through this wilderness, to our new home. Howard Flushman, and our Gifts Committee will be reaching out to you to gain your commitment. I ask everyone to provide them all the support you can.
But please don’t wait for us to reach out to you. Rather, contact Howard Flushman, David Baier, or me with questions, and most importantly, your commitment as we all join hands and march together.
Why am I here?
I tell you why I’m here, I love this place. I love the people. I am humbled and find much joy in being your President.
It provides our family a place of belonging. A place where our daughters could be Jewish. And be proud of being Jewish. We are a community of friends. We celebrate with one another. We cry with one another. We support one another. I often hear from visitors of Adat Chaverim that there is a vibe…. a friendlinessthat is felt by simply being “present with each other”.
“Present with each other”. That was an actual quote. Think about what this says. “Present with each other”.Sure, we are friendly. Sure, we are welcoming. Sure, Rabbi Ben inspires us with his words of wisdom. Sure, our Religious School is second to none. It simply rocks. Sure, we put on a great oneg. If you haven’t been to one lately, you are really missing out. Sure, come any night of the week or weekend, and you’ll find a buzz with committee meetings, Women of Adat Chaverim or Brotherhood programs. And sure, the Board Member Announcements really bring it home. Ok, that’s enough.
It is really much more. We are “present”.
We leave a lot of the details and minutia of our day, or our lives at the door, or at least we put them on pause. We engage with each other and we are present in that moment.
“Present with each other” – That’s a pretty awesome “why I’m here”.
And that…my friends…was a comment from a visitor. As you reflect during these Days of Awe, drop me a note, stop me between services, or just share with someone else your “why am I here”. You might be surprised what you find.
As the 11th president of Adat Chaverim, I follow in the footsteps of some greats. Our past president, Steve and Sybille Jacobs are not with us this year, as they are traveling and celebrating High Holy Days in Europe this year. They send their love. Even though he’s not with us, I want to publicly acknowledge his years of service for Adat Chaverim. I strongly value his work ethic, humility, compassion, and continued support towards me and this congregation.
As I close, there is a prayer I’ve found that speaks to me as I take on the role as your President. It’s found in the Mishkan T’filah Shabbat Morning service:
I need strength, humility, courage, patience. Strength to control my passions,
Humility to assess my own worth,
Courage to rise above defeats,
Patience to cleanse myself of imperfections.
And wisdom: to learn and live by our sacred teachings.
Let me not be discouraged by my failings.
Let me take heart from all that is good and noble in my character. Keep me from falling victim to cynicism.
Teach me sincerity and enthusiasm.
Endow me with perception and courage,
that I may serve others with compassion and love.
On behalf of Michelle and me, our children, and on behalf of our staff and Board of Trustees, may you and your families and all Jews around the world have a Happy, Healthy and Sweet New Year filled with peace and contentment and may your name be inscribed in the book of life.
Terry Sigle, President of Adat Chaverim