by Rabbi Jim Prosnit, June 2018/Sivan-Tamuz 5778
For a “numbers” guy he had a sense that it was not all about the numbers.
That’s been the beauty of working with Michael Blumenthal these past two years. As a numbers guy from IBM he knows analytics and information. On the High Holy Days he reported to us what he learned about the congregation from analyzing data gleaned from both our on line usage and our recent congregational survey. But he knew that while data can guide you, effective leadership comes from the ability to look beyond or beneath and intuit a direction because it is the right thing to do. This enabled him to lead from both his head and his heart – and we are a stronger congregation because of it.
Michael married into the congregation when he met Judy, raised two children here and has devoted tremendous time and energy to making this place the type of community of which we are all proud. Two years ago he was elected our president and at our annual meeting on June 14 we will have a chance to salute him for his outstanding and capable leadership.
These two years have been marked by a blend of both stability and change. Michael understood the need to honor the noble traditions of B’nai Israel’s past, but at the same time to encourage us to take a fresh look at some of the ways that we have long operated. He oversaw, but did not micro-manage. Michael wanted his presidency to be about the engagement of congregants in the sacred work of the synagogue. From the previously mentioned survey, to striking both a “Look to the Future” and “Rabbinic Planning” committee, his tenure has been marked by respectful outreach and the desire to be sure that as many voices as possible be heard. He has shown utmost respect for the people that work here and for those who volunteer their time.
For me personally it has been another example of the blessings of the B’nai Israel rabbinate. Our presidents regularly become friends. Sharing a vision of what our community can and should be has inspired me and enhanced every dimension of my work.
Michael will soon earn that most cherished title of “past” president, but his insights, organization and counsel will be vital to those who follow.
Permit me too, a special “shout out” to Judy — not only for bringing her husband into the mix, but for what she has long done for this community. Her commitment is second to none. Her boundless energy from working with B’nai Mitzvah families hoping to enhance the meaning of “mitzvah” to her social action involvement; her work with the Israeli emissaries and her role in ensuring the success of the recent celebration of four other outstanding women of the congregation are just a few examples of her many contributions.
Michael and Judy are among the brightest stars in the congregational firmament. Thank you both for your support and your dedication.