David and I moved to Grand Rapids in the winter of 2011. According to old time Grand Rapidians, it was a particularly bad winter, and I was not used to driving on snow and ice. David was working about 50 hours a week so it was a hard move for me.

We went “shul shopping,” and at Congregation Ahavas Israel we found a home. I am grateful for all the people who made us feel welcome.

I began volunteering, and my first job was Kiddush prep, set up, and clean up. I immediately felt part of the community. I found that it was easy to get involved here which was not my experience at other synagogues where we were members. The ability of getting involved so easily is one of the advantages of belonging to a small Synagogue.

Next I was approached by David Reifler to be a board member. As I thought about what my particular talents were, I remembered that I was good with numbers and enjoyed them. I, therefore, told him that I would like to be Treasurer. This was quite a bold step on my part as we were brand new to the community. I expected him to agree and suggest I wait a few years. However, he was enthusiastic about the idea. My next step was to talk to Bill Lewis who was Treasurer at the time. He asked me what experience I had, and I told him not much. However, he accepted me and said he would be willing to train me.

And train me he did! For the next year or more, he met with me once a week and took my many phone calls. It was a long learning curve, but I really enjoyed it and will always be grateful to Bill. I consider it a privilege to have served as your Treasurer for these past seven years.

Recently I have begun to branch out. When I read that Rabbi Krishef wanted to start a book group, I contacted him and have become the coordinator of this group. I also became the chair of the Acquisitions Committee as well as starting a Zentangle art group that is a combination of drawing and meditation.

Congregation Ahavas Israel has offered me many opportunities for growth, and I am glad I have been able to take advantage of all of them.


Leah Sauer

Ahavas Israel Board Member

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