May/June 2018 ~ Iyar/Sivan/Tamuz ~ Vol. 5778
By Jack Fishman
For those television fans reading this column, you may recognize the two titles of this article as the names of the final episodes of “M*A*S*H” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” two of my all-time favorite shows. I thought they were two very aptly named final series episodes.
I thought it was appropriate to use those episodes’ names as the titles of this column – my last newsletter column, after nine years of Board involvement, from Board member-at-large to Executive Vice President, and four years as your President.
In so many of my columns over the years I have reflected on the transitions that I’ve gone through personally and professionally, and those that MCJC has gone through in that same time. Indulge me as I take this approach one last time. These last four years have been nothing short of “revolutionary” for me personally, and so, I dare say, for MCJC.
I have experienced my only child, Rebecca, compete for the last time in the sport she dominated for so long (karate), get her driver’s license and her first car, graduate from high school, get accepted into the college of her choice, transition to college life, make Dean’s List,
and, at age eighteen, already be in a two and half year committed relationship. My twenty five year marriage ended, and while Liz and I remain close friends, my relationship with my partner, Ella, is now almost two years old and still developing. I struggle with some health issues, some ascertainable and others not. Those situations continue to progress.
Over that same time frame, MCJC has transitioned to a non affiliated congregation and has recently entered into what we hope will be a long-term commitment with Rabbi Tom. Sadly, some long-term members departed and are missed. Other young families with young children have joined us. We have new members – and many new faces – on the Board and Executive Board, and we have new committees and new committee members, along with a new approach to our overall religious practice. We have a new look to our school, new office staff, and so much more. Each of our personal revolutions continue, as does the evolution of MCJC.
Where are we as a congregation today? Each of you has to assess that based on your own criteria. I’ve said from the beginning of my Executive Board service that my goal was to leave MCJC in a “better
position” than when I began, and I reiterated that aspiration throughout my two terms as President. We are certainly a very different organization than we were eight years ago, four years ago, and two years ago. Better? I certainly think so. But I am very biased on this point, and “better” is a subjective term.
We’ve weathered some significant storms: the loss of members, and the wind-down of the long-term involvement of others that had become almost second nature to us; ritual and philosophic differences of opinion and practice. And yet here we are.
As I look toward my future as a congregant, I know that my connection with MCJC will change. I will be here less, I will be less involved in what’s going on, I will have less reason to worry about all the minutiae that for the last four years have been part of my daily
routine. But I will love this place no less, and I will feel no less of an affinity for this institution. This building and our sanctuary is where I first spent any real time with Ella. This building and this sanctuary is
where my daughter became a bat mitzvah, with an overflowing crowd of family and friends. It’s where I experienced one of my favorite, never to be forgotten life’s experiences, when Rebecca broke down on the bima as she was thanking Liz and me for helping her get to that moment, leaving not a dry eye in the sanctuary. Thanks to Gene Lindow, we have that moment captured forever on DVD. And that moment happened, at least in part, because of so many of you and our community here at MCJC.
No one knows what the future holds. We don’t know where we will end up in life, where we will be living, what synagogue we may be attending, where our children may live and whether we will move to be close to them. We don’t know what our health will be and what we will be able to accomplish as the years pass.
We can’t necessarily quantify what motivates us to take on the commitments many of us have over the years, some over and over again, both at MCJC and elsewhere. The Board and Executive Board have worked very hard these last few months to make sure that the transition to the incoming Board and Executive Board is as seamless and as easy as possible for all involved.
While we struggled at times with some decisions that needed to be made, I believe that Rob Perbohner, Jen Finger, and Karen Koenig, as well as the entire Board, collectively believe that we are moving in the right direction, moving forward, on the path to stability — financial, religious, and substantive. But we all readily acknowledge we have a long way to go. We have to grow membership, grow our school, find more commonalities, and continue to understand our differences. None of that will come easy, but all of it can come.
We have made quantum leaps in the nine years I’ve been on the Board, not necessarily because of me, or your Board, but because of the sense of community, caring, and belonging that each of us has for this institution. I would be lying if I said I didn’t kvetch about the presidency at times over the years. I wondered if I wanted to take on a second term, and during some of the more tumultuous times, both for me personally and at MCJC, I wondered if it was worth the effort. In hindsight, of course it was, and since it isn’t my nature to quit something I commit to doing, I feel that I succeeded on a number of levels by persevering through those difficult times. Each of you will, of course, have your own opinion of the impact on MCJC.
It has been a privilege, honor, and – most of the time – pleasure, serving as your President. In the long history of MCJC, there have only been a select few individuals who have had that distinction, and to be considered in the same breath as many of those who have come before me, makes me quite proud. I have no doubt that those who will follow me will feelthe same as they reflect on their Presidencies and Board involvement.
This is a melancholy article. I leave with regrets, but “then again too few to mention.” And so I’ll say goodbye for my last official time in this newsletter but hope that I will see you all soon, and fairly often, at the place we call our Jewish home, MCJC.
May you all be blessed with good health, prosperity, happiness, and success, family and enduring friendships. Thank you for the opportunity to have served on your behalf on the Board and as your President.