Hi, my name is Esther Bookbinder.  As of the summer of 2019, I am new to Congregation Ahavas Israel as well as the Board of Trustees.  This month it is my turn to send a Message from the Board.

Before I begin my reflection, a little about me.  I grew up in South Haven, left when I was 19, and moved to Phoenix, AZ where I met my husband Dennis.  We were married in South Haven and in 1985 settled in Los Angeles.  Now, I find myself back in Michigan, with my brothers and sisters. 

My late husband’s uncle Morris Weinstein, was a member and president of Congregation Ahavas Israel in the 1960’s.  I knew I wanted to join a congregation when I moved back to Grand Rapids, and Congregation Ahavas Israel seemed like the perfect choice.  And I was right.  I’ve met truly wonderful people at Ahavas, all of whom were very welcoming and made me feel right at home. 

As I write this message a few days before Pesach, the world is being turned upside down because of the corona virus pandemic. Currently as I practice safe social distancing, staying at home, washing my hands, and just trying to make the best of it, I’m reminded of all the people who are helping ensure this country keeps running: the doctors and nurses, all the medical personnel and First responders, stores that are open and their workers, truckers and delivery people.  I think of them and I thank them. 

I have a feeling that this is a time of reflection and renewal, not just for our community, or even our country, but for the entire Earth, for all of humanity. Will the world be a better and kinder place? Will we focus more on helping each other and helping our planet?  I don’t know, but I hope that we will. 

Whether shul is open again or whether we’re still distancing, when you have the chance to be a part of our community, please do so and join us. Make a commitment to attend services, even once a month, if that is all you can do. Taking care of ourselves is more than just spa days and Netflix-binging, it’s also being a part of a community that supports you and holds space for you. By coming to services on Saturday mornings you will recharge your mind and spirit, which we will all need, and you never know, you might even feel good that you came. 

As you’re reading this, we will hopefully be entering the warmth of summer. Let me remind everyone  that the annual meeting will be on June 14th (if we are not still quarantined by then). At this meeting we will be voting for our new officers and board members.  And of course, there may be a nosh along with our fundraiser – The Cadillac of Raffles. We would love to see all of you there to share in the excitement of the raffle and the business of the meeting!

When you come to shul, for services, holidays, or activities, please ask around to find me and introduce yourself! I want to get to know as many of you as I can.

I am wishing everyone a wonderful summer, even if we are still quarantined. Stay healthy and stay safe. And I’m hoping for sure that life will be back to normal in the fall, and we will see all of you at our High Holiday services. 

“Community is the human expression of Divine love. It is where I am valued simply for who I am, how I live and what I give to others. It is the place where they know my name.” – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Esther Bookbinder

Ahavas Israel Board Member