Shaare Emeth celebrates milestone


Recipe for a successful event: Take two dynamic and innovative couples, add tables full of tempting silent auction items, combine with a side-splitting professional comedian, blend in honoring past presidents, mix in serving stations overflowing with enticing hearty appetizers, toss with a reasonably-priced entrance fee, and select a night when most people go out: Saturday evening. The result: Congregation Shaare Emeth’s tremendously successful 140th anniversary celebration: Live, Love, Laugh. More than 500 people attended the event.

“It was a fantastic event,” said Aemi Tucker, five-year member of Shaare Emeth. “The entertainment was great and it was well-organized.” William (Bill) Livingston, treasurer of the congregation, was pleased to see a diverse crowd. “The range of ages here is terrific. Lots of people are here who usually don’t attend events.”

Don Kriss, executive director, attributes the diversity of ages and success of the evening to the co-chairs, Joanne and Jeff Mishkin and Janne and Andy Burch. “Our goals of diversity and numbers were definitely met tonight.” Kriss praised the entire congregation for making Shaare Emeth the place it is. “The spirit of this congregation really shined tonight.”

Many of the congregation’s past presidents attended the event to be recognized for their years of contributions to Shaare Emeth. Current president Steve Rosen offered his view on what has contributed to Shaare Emeth’s endurance. “We have been very fortunate to have had a terrific team of rabbis, support staff and congregants.”

In addition to the past presidents receiving individual accolades from Rabbi Jeffrey Stiffman at a presentation, the congregation unveiled a new wall of presidents featuring their pictures and years of service.

Stiffman enjoyed the variety of activities at the gala. “It was lots of fun and a good mix of social and humor and honoring people for their service,” he said. “It was wonderful that so many people came to enjoy being part of the congregational community.”

Harris Frank, who was the senior-most past president in attendance, praised the congregation’s accomplishments in its 140 years of existence. “This congregation addresses itself to issues of Reform Judaism on as current and a solid basis as I know. We were miles ahead of others in terms of our day school and professional teachers.”

Rabbi Jim Bennett echoed Frank’s assessment of the congregation’s success. “One of the hallmarks is Shaare Emeth’s openness and warmth and commitment to connection and community,” he said. “Down-to-earth warmth was sort of grounded in Judaism in that it is found at the heart of the religion.” Past president Charles Werner added. “The rabbis and cantors and associate rabbis get the whole family of Shaare Emeth involved…from young children, young marrieds to senior citizens. It’s life-long leadership.”

Between the food and appetizers, guests were treated to the humorous observations of comedian Joel Chasnoff. His amusing views of Jewish day schools, camps, holidays, and food kept the attendees laughing throughout his entire act. “I love the sukkah,” Chasnoff said. “It’s important to remember the time when we lived in trailer parks. sukkah is Hebrew for ‘some assembly required.'”

Co-chair Joanne Mishkin was thrilled with the entire evening. “It was more than I expected,” she said. “It was an absolutely perfect evening based on the comments I’ve heard from people and my own impressions.”