Our portion begins by counting each of the leaders of the Family of Gershon, a division of the Levites. Each of them is recorded as he is. Each tribes’ gift being brought to the Tent of Meeting is listed individually. Each leader is also listed individually by name.
Richard was a reluctant leader. When I first came to JJC, Barbara Rosenblum told me he was the perfect choice for President. I asked Richard and each time he adamantly declined saying he was not cut out for the job. I gave a sermon one summer Shabbat morning about going outside your comfort zone and looked at Richard, whose face was to the ground. After that sermon he told me he would become President.
These 2 years have not been easy for Richard. There has been negotiations with the STEM preschool and a change in ownership of the school, Homeland Security Grants, a change in Maintenance Director, a rabbi and cantor search, repairs in the building such as a boiler, computers needing to be replaced and discussions about the server, a new awning in front of the Sanctuary, a 3 day power outage, security concerns, public assembly license meetings and many more things than can be enumerated. Luckily Richard had a partner in Jay who joined with him in steering the JJC ship and who has gotten excellent training in becoming the next President of JJC.
We are so grateful to Richard for stepping up to the plate and doing what he could to strengthen JJC. He always had time to talk and to take things to another level. We also would be remiss in not thanking Helene for all she did behind-the-scenes to strengthen Richard. Behind every man is a stronger woman. Richard and Helene were two of the first people I met at JJC, and their devotion and dedication to this spiritual home is boundless. How wonderful it is to have this special Shabbat with 3 generations of the Cepler family present.
It has not been an easy couple of years with the passing of two strong, loving parents. Yet when Craig, Seren, Belle, Emily and Sadie were here on the 2nd Day of Passover, Richard said to Emily on the Bimah לדור ודור, do you know what that means? It is a concept that Richard has internalized. He knew this was his time to step up and take the mantle of leadership, and we are all the richer for him choosing to do so. His Executive Board has worked tirelessly in supporting him these past 2 years, as has his Board of Trustees.
Transitions are always hard yet they are important. Life is always changing and when one door closes, another one opens. Richard has helped open the door wide to the capable hands of Jay who in two short weeks will take over as President of the Jericho Jewish Center. Jay did something that has not been done in years-assume the position of Executive Vice President so that he could be groomed into this role. He even began staying for Kiddush! Thanks to Richard’s tutelage and close relationship with Jay, I know he will be a strong, successful President.
We are commanded to count the leaders because true leaders are few and far between-especially people who will take on the Presidency of a congregation. Let us count the many achievements of Richard, his Executive Board and Board. While Richard should get a well-deserved reprieve, we know this is not the final time he will be in a leadership role at JJC. Let us celebrate the work of our JJC leadership by asking each Board member to please rise as we read on Page 825.