Rabbis Alex and Amy Greenbaum have been our spiritual leaders since Rabbi Alex’s installation in 2002. In anticipation of our Tribute Event honoring the Rabbis’ 15 year anniversary at Beth El, I asked Rabbi Alex and Rabbi Amy to share some of their first impressions from back in 2002.
Rabbi Alex: One of my favorite memories was not 15 years ago–but 16 years ago when I was applying for the job here. I met with the Executive Board at Michael Syme’s house. We were sitting around on the couch and the Super Bowl was on. As most people know, I’m a big football fan, but I remember paying more attention to the people around me than to the game Back then we were a bunch of young people drinking beer and talking synagogue–about education and services and fundraising and social action. In fact, it was clear to me that everyone in the room cared more about the synagogue than the Super Bowl. It was very exciting.
The second time I visited Beth El, Amy came with me. There are some synagogues where you visit and they ignore your wife–where it’s all about you. Here at Beth El they divided and conquered. They courted Amy at the same time they were interviewing me.
Rabbi Amy: Yes, everyone was so nice to me. I remember making sushi in the kitchen with the Sisterhood. We talked and laughed so much! Everyone was so friendly and made me feel welcome.
Rabbi Alex: The community treated Amy with respect as a rabbi. And this was before we were working together. It really made an impression on both of us that the congregation looked at us as separate people and showed Amy respect on her own.
Another memory I have is attending services that very first weekend. Merril Nash was leading a play with a group of 1st or 2nd graders. It was a Friday night service, and here were a bunch of little kids being caterpillars on the bima. It made such a positive impression on me–those joyful children on the bima during the service. The next morning during Shabbat services, Matthew Chaban, a teenager at the time, gave a great sermon on Pulp Fiction. I thought here is a place where the members care deeply about their synagogue, where children are a part of services, and where fresh ideas and unexpected perspectives are welcome. This is the place for me.
100 Reasons is a new blog series featuring members of our diverse and delightful congregational family. We are celebrating Beth El’s 100th anniversary this year with 100 stories, 100 memories, 100 reasons to join us! If you would like to add your story or memory to the blog, please contact Nancy Langer.