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Congregation Emanuel of the Hudson Valley

What a Jewish Community Can Be

A welcoming and giving reform congregation committed to social justice, on-going learning, vibrant spirituality, diversity and the State of Israel
Yom Rishon, 4 Tishri 5778

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Brick Blog

Read the stories behind the inscriptions!

Aug07

Inscription: Ellen & Howard Leifer

~ Ellen Leifer

After almost 35 years of being active in the Kingston Jewish community, Howie and I are delighted to be

Aug05

Inscription: Paul and Carol Cooper Honor Rabbi Romer A Model of Tzedakah

~ Carol & Paul Cooper

In January, my wife broke both shoulders in Bethesda, MD. Learning of this, Rabbi Romer, on Erev


Shabbat, hung on our front door a bag containing two bottles of home made soup, and a loaf of Challah. We knew who sent it because there was a note, signed by the Rabbi, explaining that she had heard about our distress. Then, for the next three weeks, more "care packages" appeared on Erev Shabbat -- each time without a note. We wondered who sent them, but were diffident about asking our friends, lest they be embarrassed by having to admit that they were not the charitable ones. Finally, we were able to find out that it was the Rabbi who had sent them all.

So Carol and I purchased a paving stone honoring the woman who teaches not only by precept, but by example.

Jul31

Inscription: Life is a Gift! Michael F. Zinn

~ Randi Zinn

When I decided to participate in the brick fundraiser for Temple Emanuel, I knew it wasn’t my Dad’s (Michael Zinn) memory that I wanted to acknowledge, it was the way he lived his life that I wanted to honor. 

My Dad had a unique sense of the fleeting nature of time. Not in a way that made him paranoid or overly cautious of “what-if’s.” In fact, it was quite the opposite! He woke up each morning with a fervor for each moment, and an excitement for what he could uniquely contribute that day. He had a sense that since life is so short, it was his right to make the absolute most of each minute. So it’s fitting that one of this favorite “off the cuff” comments, usually accompanied by a one shouldered shrug and a determined grin was “Life is a Gift!”

Sometimes he said this little phrase when great things happened reminding me not to assume that life is anything but exciting and full of well-deserved rewards, both tangible and intangible. He also said it when times were tough as a reflection of gratitude for even the sad moments, as they give us some perspective.

I wanted to share this special phrase with the congregation, this truth that “Life is a Gift,” because it is indeed just that. We each have our own unique lives to celebrate and manifest to the fullest.  I use my Dad’s life and words as a reminder to embrace life in all its colors and forms and moments- it’s all part of the evolving gift of our unique and individual life story!                       

Jul26

Inscription: Sandy & Massie Mehl

~ Sandy Mehl

When I called in my order for a "Temple Brick" Susan Ragusa asked me a very pertinent question. What is the reason you are purchasing a brick?  Without hesitation I replied..."because the Temple is in such a precarious financial situation." Now I've had time to think about her query, and guess what?  A few weeks later the answer remains the same.

Temple is many things to many people. Obviously we don't all share the same sentiments. I've spoken with some of you whose children are grown. A common thread weaves through the fabric of many conversations....i.e.. " My children are grown. I don't use the Hebrew school.  I go to services a few times a year. Really, I don't use the facilities much at all."  OK. That is unfortunate but in some cases it is a reality.

The big HOWEVER is, Temple Emanuel is our spiritual home, our place of learning, our community center, as it were, where we can gather together, nourish our souls, educate and hone our minds, have fun, and be there, one for another, through times of happiness and times of sadness. Isn't that what a community is? Isn't that what a community does?? Without our commitment, Temple Emanuel will not endure.

It is our obligation to keep our synagogue alive for the next generation if not for ourselves. Do we want to see the Kingston area without a vibrant Reform Synagogue?

Let me be clear, Seniors of many yesterdays enabled our Synagogue to live when many of us had young children, when we "needed" Temple. I say we still need Temple and we must shoulder our responsibilities to the next generation, and in doing so, we may even find our way back to active participation in Temple life.

Most of us are proud of Jewry's accomplishments...did you ever think that without the rigorous exercise which Jewish learning demands our collective brains might not be so agile? Without the teachings of our Fathers and our Mothers we would not be what we are. Let the beat go on!!!

It is my pleasure to be a member of Temple Emanuel. It is my pleasure to gather together with my fellow congregants and with our Rabbi to celebrate our many festivities. It is also my pleasure, Susan, to simply buy a brick for our walk.

Jul25

Inscription: Stoutridge Wine Tasting, 10-18-09 Knishes and History, 4-25-10

~ Susan J. Ragusa

As we look towards 2011, and begin our much needed Fundraising programs, I am reminded of the success of two of our past events that we memorialized in our beautiful Brick Walkway.

The Wine Tasting at Stoutridge Vineyard, and the Knishes and History trip to the lower East Side of Manhattan, signifying our ability to bring together a large number of our congregants to eat, drink and schmooze while gently raising money for Temple Emanuel.

Real generosity to the future lies in giving all to the present.

Jul22

Inscription: Jill, Steve, Alexa, & Lyle Schwartz/Horn

~ Jill Horn and Steve Schwartz

We purchased a brick to show our family's support and connection to the Temple.

                                                           

Jul18

Inscription: Polly Ruth Miller, in loving memory, who brought us to Temple Emanuel. Martin & Sara, Jaik & Lani Miller

~ Martin B. Miller

Sara and I, each of us widowed in the late 80’s, together brought six children to the table when we married in 1990. My two oldest, Lani and Danny, were out on their own, and my youngest two, Jaik and Polly, were teenagers, but done with high school. Sara’s two kids, Chris and Erin, were still in high school, a principal reason that I sold my Westchester County house and moved up to Ulster County and to the little house in High Falls that Sara had bought earlier, and that we soon doubled in size.

Soon thereafter, I started checking out synagogue options in the region, and joined one that looked interesting, consistent with my observations about the services. I thought the rabbi was remote, intellectually and personally, but I atuck with my choice. Polly, who was soon living on her own in Westchester County, would come up to services; my other kids would join us every so often. Sara, who is technically not Jewish but who found herself adapting to my Jewishness with comfort and ease, liked the services but agreed with me about the rabbi, and the same was true for Polly.

I often took a bus into New York City to get to work, and coming back home one afternoon, I think early in 1994, I ran into an acquaintance and we got into a conversation about religion. He, a nominal Jew, expounded on his atheism, and I spoke about my faith. Sitting a row back from us was a gentleman who could not help overhearing our discussion, so he stuck his head into our talk-space and let us know that he had some thoughts on the matter. It turned out to be Rabbi Eichhorn, who told us about Temple Emanuel, and I was paying attention. I filed what he said in my brain’s hard drive; it sounded very good. Nevertheless, inertia ran my actions, and I stuck with the other congregation a little while longer.

Some time later, the rabbi at the synagogue I had joined put together a kind of workshop on intermarriage, and Sara and I went to the first session. We identified ourselves along with several other couples, but then the rabbi took over and didn’t let anyone else get in a word edgewise…well, maybe edgewise. Despite my pleas, Sara refused to go back to the next session: she thought it was such a waste of time. I thought it would be insulting to the rabbi, and to the rest of the group, so I showed up. I was the only one who did. We had a little exchange, but it wasn’t very gratifying (my guess: that was a mutual reaction.)

So on the High Holidays that took place in 1996, I decided to take a hard look at Temple Emanuel, at least for some of the services. I remember Yom Kippur the best.  Polly went with me to the services. Several times during the day, she remarked about how lovely things were there: the warmth of the rabbi, the lovely singing, and the friendliness of the people around us. She said: “this is where we belong.” I said: “we’ll see.” Then, as we were leaving and Rabbi Eichhorn stood in the lobby, I presented myself and he said: “I know you from that bus ride. Which one were you: the atheist or the believer?” I thought to ask him to guess, but I decided to tell him. What a sweetheart.

Maybe a week later, on October 19, despite a terrible rainstorm, we had decided to all go to the movies that evening. Polly, who was visiting, said she needed to lie down for a while, that she wasn’t feeling great, but she thought she would be okay. Then, my daughter Polly, 24 years old and in fragile health, woke up from her nap, and suffered an asthma attack that was overwhelming. We got her into the car and were headed for the hospital in Kingston. As we traveled, she went into anaphylactic shock, and she died, in Sara’s arms. I had experienced other tragedies and pain, but this was the greatest loss of my life. And it was the same for others in the family, especially Jaik, who was exactly two years older than Polly, to the day.

We placed notices in several newspapers, local and national, about Polly’s death. There was a huge outpouring at the funeral home in Westchester County, not far from the cemetery: many friends and relatives, many people who loved her. But we did not see or hear a word of consolation from the congregation to which I belonged, nor from the rabbi there. That just compounded my grief. How I wished I was part of that warm community at Temple Emanuel, the one so clearly identified by Polly only a little while earlier. So Sara and I knew where we had to go, what we needed to do.

A granite block close to the front door of Temple Emanuel tells the story briefly:  we were brought there by Polly. Over the years since she died, her sensitivity towards the Temple community has been borne out: we have grown increasingly close to the community, and feel so much more that we are a contributing part of its vitality and purpose. Rabbi Eichhorn, that lovely man whose conversation on the bus got this process started, has retired. I think every so often of how Polly and Rabbi Romer would have loved each other; I know that in my heart.

Jul15

Inscription: Jeff, Carmel, Josh, Kathy & Caroline Gold

~ Carmel L. Gold , Jeffrey R. Gold and family

When the opportunity to honor our family, our community and the legacy of Temple Emanuel in one elegant gesture came our way we had to jump on it.

Each time we walk up the path and see our family's brick among the others - some sentimental, some whimsical, all special - we get so much satisfaction and joy. I will consider this project in the future when I have occasion to honor or remember a person or event. The return is so much more than the investment.

Of course, we remember our children singing in the social hall with Barbara Zimet. We remember the Temple rededication when we unveiled the Cantor Park chapel. We remember our children's bar and bat mitzvah services and lessons.

We also remember losing friends and mourning with our community, as well as, praying and dancing with the adults and children alike on Simchat Torah and Purim. We want to sustain this Temple for the children to come and for the sake of the older generation who deserve to be remembered.

Thank you for allowing us this space to share our thoughts on the brick project.  We encourage everyone to consider buying a brick to honor or remember someone or a special time. And have you seen the granite stones?  They are a marvel and would make a wonderful tribute to a particularly memorable person or event.

Jun21

Inscription: Honoring Bruce Berky

~ Anonymous

This brick honors Bruce Berky and his tireless commitment to bringing music to Temple Emanuel on the Sabbath, High Holy Days and every other event where music brings us together. Heartfelt gratitude.

Jun10

Inscription: Rabbi Romer Happy 50th Birthday December 2010 From Friends

~ Ruth & Conrad Heisman, Barbara &Charles Ronder, Linda & Jonathan Sumber, Barbara & Joseph Cohen, Adele & Paul Reiter.

We commemorated Rabbi Romer's 50th birthday by presenting her with a paver on the Temple walk. The personal note informing Rabbi included the word L'chayim!

Jun07

Inscription: In Memory of Rose B. Jaffe

~ Sandi Giordano

I bought the brick in memory of my 97 year old mother, Rose, who died on Feb. 2, 2009. I intend to purchase another in memory of my father, David, as well. He unfortunately died in 1975 at the age of 65. Rose grew up in Brooklyn, was married to Dave for 37 years. She then moved to Ft. Lauderdale, FL., where she lived for 26 years. She moved back here to be closer to me in 2001, living at The Manor in Poughkeepsie. In 2005, she moved to Golden Hill in Kingston. She was always a "doer." She wrote and type-set the monthly Hadassah newsletter in FL (she was a lifetime member) and also was secretary on her condo Board and she ran the weekly bingo games. She was an incredibly talented knitter, crocheter, tatter. I miss her a lot. Up until 3 weeks before she died, I took her out to the beauty parlor. Every week we went out shopping. She had remarkable energy and loved being out of the infirmary!

Although she had bad osteoporosis and had shrunken to about 4'10' from about 5'3', she was able to get into my Envoy SUV up though her last outing. She was a special lady.

Jun06

Inscription: Al Eisman, A good man whose life was filled with nameless acts of kindness and love.

~ Mary Jane and Lou Klein

February 20, 2009 was one of the worst days of our lives. Early that morning, we learned that Al Eisman, a very special friend, died while vacationing, in Florida, with Toby.

In the days, weeks and months which followed, we agonized over what we could do to honor Al's memory. We lived in Tillson for twenty-five (25) years. Throughout that time hardly a day passed without seeing Toby and Al. We celebrated holidays together. Our kids were almost always at one of our houses or the other. Our youngest sons even celebrated their Bar Mitzvah together. How could we honor the memory of someone so close to us who was worthy of a very special tribute?

When the Brick Fundraiser was announced our dilemma was solved. Temple Emanuel meant a lot to Al. We became part of a small group of friends who joined Toby in honoring Al's memory with a granite paver. In some small way, we helped bring Al back to Temple Emanuel.

Jun04

Inscription: In honor of Hannah & Sol Feldman

~ Jessica Fillmore

When this wonderful new Brick campaign began, I immediately thought of my grandparents. They were incredibly active & dedicated to their congregation & community in Jackson Heights. Friday evening always saw them at service, and my grandfather went to shul every day for minyan.  Together they helped run their congregation's weekly Bingo game, my grandmother ran their magical thrift shop year round, and my grandfather served on the board & as president. When their community, their congregation, their friends, or their family called, they answered. In small & large ways, every day they practiced tikkun olam and I have deep love & admiration for how they lived their lives & for their endless love, passion & generosity. This Brick is a wonderful opportunity to thank & honor them.

Jun03

Inscription: In Honor and Appreciation of the Bingo Volunteers 2008-2010

~ Sloane and Glenn Grubard

At this time of year, it is especially important to GIVE THANKS to our Temple Emanuel members who devote their time, energy and resources for Wednesday night BINGO, and throughout the week, to make this successful game happen!
They, like BINGO, have become a financial life line for Temple Emanuel.  In the past two and a half years, BINGO has provided a steady source of MUCH NEEDED and continued revenue for our synagogue.

May30

Inscription: In Loving Memory Gloria Guss

~ Alison Guss

My brick is dedicated to my mother. She died when I was 12 years old and is buried in my hometown of Louisville, KY. Although I do visit my remaining family in Louisville and have, on occasion, taken my husband and daughters to my mom's gravesite, I wanted a closer, more immediate memorial connecting me to her. Beyond that, each time my family walks into our congregation there will be an opportunity for me to link my daughters to their distant grandmother, the loving woman I remember but they never knew.

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