Summer has arrived as I write these words; our outdoor services have begun. As I look around our beautiful grounds, nurtured so wonderfully by Cheryl Brickman, I marvel at the growth which takes places during these weeks. Similarly, I marvel at the growth I see in our kids who continue their Jewish learning in high gear at Jewish summer camps. A number of our kids will be at our camp, the Union Institute Camp which serves the upper Midwest, Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) in Oconomowoc. Over the course of the summer, Yonatan Buchnik, Adin Gendelman, Megan Gendelman, Sara Gendelman, Lucy Girton, Jesse Illian, Eve Janavitz, Benjamin Levin, Michelle Margolies, and Ethan Schupper will be passing through OSRUI anywhere from two to eight weeks. Adin and Benjamin will be in Gesher Aleph, Eve in Gesher Bet, and Yoni in Gesher Gimmel. Lucy will be in Kallah Bet while Sara and Ethan will be “downstairs” living in tents in Moshavah Aleph. Megan will be part of a group of some fifteen kids riding their bicycles around Lake Michigan under the direction of Jesse Illian and Michelle Margolies. And my colleague, Rabbi Schaller, will be serving as faculty at camp the first two weeks of July in Tiferet, the session for budding artists at OSRUI. She will be joined part of the time by her husband, Stephen, and, of course, by her son, Arvie. And Sara Sol Wertz
Yet, as we all know here in Milwaukee, we are blessed with another Jewish overnight camp, with our JCC’s Interlaken up at Eagle River. Many others of our kids will be going to camp at Interlaken. These kids who attend Jewish summer camp become the leaders of our Jewish community. To those who have given or will give generously to the Michael K. Fefferman Educational Scholarship Fund and to the Jack and Renee Dygola Campership Fund which provides many of these kids with the summer opportunity of a lifetime, my deepest thanks.
Yet other Jewish growth and change will take place over the summer. I will be blessed with the opportunity to be in Israel to study at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. At the same time, other growth and change will be taking place within the walls of our synagogue itself. We will be gathering to thank our Interim Executive Director, Betty Lieberman, who will be “retiring” for the umpteenth time. Betty, a native Chicagoan, has made Milwaukee her home and, in so many ways, our home for decades. Settling here in Milwaukee with her beloved Sidney, Betty has devoted her life to the Jewish community. I cannot imagine any Jewish organization in this city that has not been assisted by and strengthened by Betty’s presence. Her common sense, her connections and contacts, her commitment to Jewish life, and her capacity to generate energy and activity are simply unmatched. She moved from her position as a Vice President of our congregation into the role of our Interim Executive Director two years ago and our entire congregation has been the beneficiary of that work. And, while she may be “retiring,” she really is just moving back into her Vice Presidency to continue to bless all of us with her presence. May God continue to bless Betty for many years, taking her and all of us from strength to strength.
At the same time, we welcome our new Executive Director, Andrew Appel. He, too, is moving from a Vice Presidency of the congregation into the position of Executive Director. He brings his vast knowledge of the business world, his optimistic and upbeat personality, his long family history within our congregation, and his love of Jewish life to our full-time Executive Director position. We look forward to growing with Andrew in our Executive Director position for many, many years to come. I look forward to seeing many of you over the summer at our outdoor services, at our drop-in activities, at our congregational picnic, and at all of our many activities. May we continue to marvel at our growth.