Annual Dinner

Annual Dinner,  May 3, 2015   Remarks made by incoming president Ellen Bensusan

First, I would like to thank Michael Feldman for his dedication and passion as president of our congregation for the past 2 ½ years.  I hope that I can fill the big shoes of Michael who has guided this Temple with wisdom and dignity.  Michael has led us through many changes and set the course for growth in the coming years.  As he articulated at the 40th rededication on Friday night, we have added wonderful social programming that has drawn a new vitality to the congregation. This has increased the warm, family atmosphere we all enjoy.  Michael has also set the stage for a new era at UBS with its first official rabbi.  We, as a congregation, can’t thank him enough for his strong leadership.  I know that he’s not going anywhere (right?), so I look forward to picking his brain as I move into this position of great responsibility. 

Rick and I moved to Bristol in the summer of 2008.  We had been unaffiliated with any temple for several years.  Our kids are grown and gone, so it wasn’t something that we thought we missed.  Two years later, I came across an article in the paper about a temple in Bristol having its 110th anniversary celebration.  Who knew??  I called Ronnee Wasserman to get information and we came to the service.  As they say, the rest is history!!  What drew us to this temple and affiliating once more, were the people we instantly connected with.  There was something about this temple that felt like coming home.  There was, and is, warmth of friendship that continues to draw people in.  There also is a sense of humor, understanding and acceptance that makes this temple unique from any other experience we have had.

So, where are we going from here?

First, we have a new rabbi.  How exciting is that!  If you have already met Rabbi Carolyn Glatstein, you know how warm and inviting she is. She captivated us from the very beginning and seems to be a perfect reflection of what this temple was looking for.  Rabbi Glatstein has a background that lends itself perfectly to our diverse congregation and she’s willing to listen to the direction this congregation wants to go. We look forward to working with her and growing together.  We hope that everyone will join us at the June service when we officially welcome Rabbi Glatstein as our rabbi.

Second, I’ll just say two words, Herb Sackett.  What a colossal job Herb has done this past year with our generous anonymous donor and the challenge fund.  Herb has insured that the financial health of our congregation and this building is taken care of.  As Rick has articulated in his report, we are looking forward to working with professionals to create a master plan with regard to our aging building.  As all of us understand (or will eventually) getting older brings with it the usual aches and pains and sometimes the need for a little nip and tuck. Our building is no different.  We hope to make announcements in the coming months of significant renovations to the building that will improve its efficiency and utilization.

Now, here’s the part where I ask you to do something. We all know that the temple doesn’t run by itself.  We need the money that is donated through dues and the generous voluntary contributions above and beyond that.  You have heard enough about that, although I guarantee that there will be more discussion of finances as we move forward.  What I want to ask of you though, is not about money.  It’s about your time and your interest.  A temple is only as strong as its membership. We have a solid core of wonderfully active people who put together great functions and programs.  They are fabulous, but it’s not enough.  If we are going to grow our membership and programming, we need every member to do at least one more thing.  If you haven’t joined a committee, please do that this year.  If you haven’t sponsored an Oneg, do that this year.  If you have a great idea about programming, speak up and take charge.  If you know some people in the community who might be interested in joining our congregation, invite them to come to a service to see what we are all about.  We need to have everyone involved if we are to become the Temple that represents this community.  It’s all possible, if you all do one more thing.

Having said that, I would like to thank all of the people who have worked so hard to get UBS to where it is today.  To the outgoing board members, thank you for your service.   To the board members remaining or just joining the board, welcome and I look forward to working with you. I would like to thank the Board for their faith in me as I step into this leadership role.

Thanks to everyone for coming today and making this another great success.


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