Sinai is fortunate to have many members who have stepped forward into positions of leadership. Executive Committee members and Board members set policy for the Temple, make personnel decisions, and, in general, work to strengthen Sinai internally and as a part of the Chicago community.
A MESSAGE FROM OUR NEW PRESIDENT | Susan Lucas
It is an honor to be Sinai’s new president, and to follow so many dedicated, talented people in this role. Please know that I hold this responsibility very close to my heart.
About me, my background, and my life at Sinai
I grew up in a suburban, temple-going family with a strong Jewish identity. My faith is core to my values and the way I try to live my life.
Stuart and I joined Sinai 24 years ago, shortly after moving to Chicago. Like many people, we were motivated to do so by a life cycle event - and also by our desire to build a Jewish household as an interfaith couple: I was pregnant with our second child and we wanted a baby naming. Sinai was the obvious choice. We were attracted to Sinai’s progressive, liberal, inclusive approach. We wanted a faith community, meaningful to both of us and in which Stuart felt a welcomed and integral part of synagogue life. And the warm, personal outreach from Rabbi Howard Berman sealed the deal – he became, and remains, a valued friend, teacher, and spiritual resource for us, and for our children. In these two decades, we’ve become engaged members of the congregation, and our children have been educated, bar- and bat-mitzvah’ed, and confirmed at Sinai.
I am continually grateful that Stuart has embraced our Jewish household and been a full partner in the religious upbringing of our three children, and that my in-laws - for whom a Jewish daughter-in-law was not exactly in the plans – have been unfailingly supportive of our decision to raise their grandchildren in the Jewish tradition. My mother- and father-in-law participated fully in our children’s bar and bat mitzvahs – passed the Torah, recited the blessings for their grandchildren’s Torah portions – and came away inspired by the ritual and very proud of their grandchildren.
Why is this important?
What really matters is that – because of Sinai’s accessible and English-language-based custom of worship and warm unconditional welcome – our nuclear family and particularly our children have never experienced our religious identity as a source of tension or conflict in our extended family. We are grateful to be at Sinai, because we believe that this happens uniquely here.
The year ahead – and our tasks, together
This is a pivotal time for Sinai. Our theme for this year - Sinai Past, Present, and Future – is apt. Watch for some important milestones: our 20th year in this beautiful building, and our 50th annual benefit, this spring. Our actions will, I believe, have lasting impacts on this community and congregation.
We at Sinai are blessed with a vibrant, diverse congregation – a broad range of ages, demographics, family situations, histories with Sinai, relationships to Judaism, reasons for participating. And we are blessed by our location in the heart of our energetic, diverse, and challenged city.
We could respond to these twin diversities of our community by being “a mile wide and an inch deep” – providing a little something for each special interest group. In an era when membership is falling out of favor and “a la carte” is in vogue, this is tempting.
With our questions will come our answers, together
Or we can respond with genuine curiosity about each other and our Sinai community, asking these kinds of questions:
• What brings us together … considering our diverse experiences and expectations?
• What core values and beliefs do all of us hold?
• How will our communal experiences be truly accessible to all of us and resonant to each of us?
• How do we expand our access and appeal beyond traditional definitions of membership and still remain a vital community of integrity?
• And most important: What is especially Sinai – what can only be experienced here, and what is particularly enriched by being available here?
These are big questions; they will not be answered definitively during my presidency. In our ever-more-rapidly changing world, robust discussion of these questions is compelling and urgent. I hope that, together, we can raise up the intentionality of discussion about these issues, and together take informed action on those points that most engage, strengthen, and build our community.
And finally, thank yous
Thanks especially to Bruce Miller. He leaves Sinai stronger than he found it. Special thanks also to Norm, Liz, Larry and Bruce, who have done superb service on the Executive Committee, to Sarah, Midge, Alan, and Jack, who will take up the baton as new members of the Executive Committee, and to all who serve in board, committee, and other volunteer capacities at Sinai.
Thank you to our wonderful rabbinic team of Rabbis Limmer and Greene, and soon Rabbi Zinn, to our dedicated and hard-working staff.
And heartfelt thanks to all my family, especially Stuart, Sam, Becca, and Camilla, for your tireless support and wise counsel, and for your love.
Sinai has always been, and will always be, A House of Prayer for All People. For 156 years it has been a place of worship and spiritual growth, of learning, of service, and a community of belonging. Let us engage together in the worthy, joyful struggles of shaping what these pillars of worship, learning, and action mean for our beloved congregation as we look to the future.
|Susan Lucas – President
Jessica Diamond – Vice President
Neal Kulick – Vice President
Midge Perlman-Shafton – Vice President
Jack Tovin – Vice President
Sarah Samuels Taylor – Secretary
Alan Tinsmon – Treasurer
Bruce Miller – Immediate Past President
|Kate T. Kestnbaum|
Peter B. Bensinger, Jr.
Victoria Woolner Samuels
Jack D Tovin
Board of Trustees
Midge Perlman Shafton
Alice Asch, Youth Representative