President's Blog

President Address to Congregation on Rosh Hashanah September 10, 2018

Several years ago, when my wife Sandra was head of the Temple’s nominating committee she came home from a committee meeting in a concerned state. Please sit down as I have talk to you about something.  After the usual panic and confirmation that the kids are ok and no one died, she stated that Nan Fechner who at the time was first vice president was moving to Syracuse as her husband accepted a new job at Syracuse University Medical school.  

Then she went on to say I have to ask you something and you can say no if you want to, but the nominating committee would like you to take over her position on the Executive committee.  At the time I was happy with what I was doing having been religious practices chair for 13 years with my plan to stay on in that position hoping to get my name in the Guinness World Record for number of years as religious practices chair in a Reform Temple.

Having been married for 30 years, Sandra knew what the answer to the offer was going to be as it is a fault of mine not to say no when someone needs my help. Given our close connection to Temple Sholom it’s even harder to say no when they ask for my help. I’ve gone to counseling with Rabbi as he tried to get me to stop volunteering for stuff and informally make everything in Temple the responsibility of the Religious Practices chair.  Just to pretend to be giving the offer some thought I said I’ll let you know tomorrow.

So here we are today and  I appreciate the honor and thank the Temple community for having trust in another Nussenfeld as Temple President when you already had the better half guide us through building our new home that is now in its 5th year.

I would like to thank those of you who finally stopped giving us the Bill and Hillary jokes. I continue to make it my business to show respect to any interns at work and Sandra only uses the Children’s Specialized Hospital server when she’s doing confidential hospital business.    

So here we are in 2018 Temple Sholom has not only survived but grew through many turning points over its 105+ years.

Our historian Steven Saltzman has documented the story of the Temple’s sisterhood organizing a bake sale during the depression solely for the purpose of making the Temple’s mortgage payment to keep us from defaulting.

 

Twenty years ago, some of you were involved in the monumental decision made in Plainfield to merge, move or stay in Plainfield. Through some very difficult discussions the decision was made to move and here we are in 2018 continuing 105+ years in existence.

 

The Temple family was able to keep it together for ten years in the Fanwood Presbyterian Church. In those ten years we were losing members and we sat through some services in the church that were so hot that we were lucky that no one passed out due to the heat. In those days I used to come out of finance committee meetings so depressed about our future you would think we wouldn’t have made it through another month. It’s a credit to the whole community for keeping it together and not jumping ship during the ten years in the dessert.

 

During that time, the Bonim Committee went out to our membership with a voluntary ask of $2million dollars to build the building that would meet our needs. All the contributions pledged were voluntary and the total in round numbers of contributions paid to date is now $1.9 million from a large group of our Temple families.

Six years ago, Sandra called two special meetings to convince the community to borrow over $2million dollars to build this building with the faith that if we build it they will come. 

Here we are today we built it and over the last four years many new members have joined, and we have been paying our bills.Today Temple Sholom is at another crossroad in our history. If everything is good, why do I say that?  Two years ago, the Temple family made the decision to embark on the Mishpacha Program with a voluntary dues model. In a recent URJ evaluation survey, those Temple Sholom members who participated felt we were very transparent in our information on Temple finances.

Continuing that path upholding the principals of Mishpacha Program I must tell you The Temple cannot remain financially solent given the level of voluntary contributions that were pledged last year and are being pledged for 2018-2019. The Temple Finance Committee has done everything it could to keep expenses in line however for the past two years we have needed to use funds from the Capital Building Account in order to pay the mortgage. We cannot continue this practice as it depletes our building fund which is our reserve for building upkeep and repairs.

The Temple community needs each one of us to look into their hearts and determine how much the Temple community means to them. If that answer is what we believe it to be, then please contact Linda, Eugene, Gayle or myself and say the vitality of Temple is very important to me so please increase my 2018-19 Mischpacha pledge from what is was to a higher amount.  Don’t look around and think there is some else who will give more. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or Jeff Bazos are not members here, so it comes down to all of us individually as members of the community to insure that the community can continue to provide the level of services we desire. We would like to maintain the Mischpacha Program as it is, and we can’t do it without your commitment.  For those of you who increase your 2018-2019 pledge thank you.

 

If your answer to the question “what does the Temple community means to me” is not a positive one, then I ask you take the following steps and give us a chance to show you what makes Temple Sholom a special community.  

 

We recommend that you come to a Temple social event and get to know your Temple family. Fifteen years ago, Sandra and I walked in to the Temple in Plainfield and a few women Marge, Shelley and Natalie said hello to us and each time we returned, they introduced us to more people. We answered the call to help pack boxes in Plainfield for the move, and then Neil asked me to help paint offices in the church even though my wife won’t let me paint anything in our own house. The rest is history. The life-long friendships we have built over the years mean more to us than we can ever express. This community has the most diverse friendly group of members that you can find anywhere. Temple Sholom members are warm, caring regular individuals that can fun to be with while also taking world events very seriously. You would not believe the diversity of our Temple family in their liberal or conservative ideas, but they are all good people who have and would go to great lengths to help you when they can.   

If coming to a social event is not your thing try becoming involved in a social action activity. Come join us when we go to Newark when we volunteer at the St John Soup kitchen, come and help us when we house the homeless in November. If you have a special cause close to your heart, bring it us and let us include the temple community in your efforts. If you try to take advantage of the events and activities that we offer, and you still feel that the Temple has not become  a more important part of your life then you can come tell me I was wrong.

I would like to thank the Temple community for all the support you have given to me, Sandra, Eric, Joshua and Elyse over the last fifteen years.  Life has its ups and downs and many of you have been there to help us even when you didn’t know it.  Life deals you many different hands some are good, and some are more challenging. Raising three kids in any generation is a challenge. Dealing with illness of family members is a challenge of life but with the support of our Temple family we’ve made it through each challenge.

My prayers for all of you is that you and your families have a happy healthy new year. But life is going to throw us detours and when that happens your Temple Clergy, Temple leadership and myself will be there to do what we can to put you back on the right road. 

July 2018

Marianne M. Kriman Retired literature chemist and a member of the Temple's Holocaust Remembrance Committee passed away Sunday July 14, 2018. Marianne fled Nazi Germany as a child Marianne Moser Kriman, 93, of Westfield, N.J., passed away peacefully at her home on Saturday, July 14, 2018. A memorial service will be held at 12 noon on Thursday, July 19, at Temple Sholom in Scotch Plains, N.J. Interment will follow at Mount Lebanon Cemetery in Iselin, N.J. Marianne was born on March 19, 1925, in what was then Breslau, Germany. She was eight when the Nazis seized power, and 13 when she and her immediate family were finally able to escape. As a refugee, she lived in Czechoslovakia, England, and Bolivia before settling in Argentina. There, she was at last able to resume her education, attending adult night school to earn an elementary-school equivalency. She eventually earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires. In 1963, with husband and son, Marianne reunited with the rest of her family in the U.S., settling in Westfield. She spent the rest of her working career as a literature chemist at Allied Chemical in Morristown, N.J. Marianne had a lifelong love of music. She sang for many years at Temple Sholom and other congregations, and with the Choral Art Society of New Jersey. She was a member and a former treasurer of the Musical Club of Westfield. Marianne was predeceased by her husband, Oscar. She is survived by her son, Alfred, and her brothers, Charlie and Robert, and their families. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Temple Sholom, 1925 Lake Ave., Scotch Plains, N.J. 07076, or to the Musical Club of Westfield's Scholarship Fund (c/o Drude S. Crane, 806 Saint Marks Ave., Westfield, N.J. 07090).

 

On Monday July 9, 2018, Bill Nadel, Jonathan Kaplan, Bruce Harris and myself attended a Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest NJ seminar on Synagogue and Community Security.  In attendance were Chief of Union County Policy as well officers from Homeland Security and Scotch Plains. We should be very encouraged that they have their act together by collecting and investigating all of the intelligence that they can get their hands on to make sure we are safe from any type of terrorist act. Given the nature of the potential threats that exist your Temple leadership will continue to work with local authorities to keep us safe. We are committed to looking into any additional measures that we can take to make sure our building is as safe as it can be on High Holidays and Religious school Sundays. We will keep you advised as we go through this process            

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