My Family’s Legacy of Service to Ahavas Israel - Robin Turetsky

The Turetsky Family Legacy of Service to Ahavas Israel began with my grandfather, Abram Turetsky, of blessed memory.   He was one of the Founding Members of our synagogue. My grandfather’s service started when there was a synagogue on the West Side and then continued at the shul on 44 Lafayette N.E. He was also President on two different occasions.  

My parents, Lewis and Gertrude Turetsky, of blessed memory, volunteered many hours to the synagogue.   My father gave his time to the Men’s Club, as well as other activities as needed, and was on the Board of Trustees. My mother’s service to Ahavas Israel included being involved with Sisterhood and helping cook meals for various events for over 20 years.    

I began my service to the synagogue after my mother passed away. I started attending Shabbat Services a couple of times a month, and then it became every Saturday. At Kiddush one Saturday, I started helping with the cleanup. Then it was on to the Hanukkah Dinner and the Purim Party. All this volunteering helped me through the grieving process. In March of this year, I was nominated for the position of Secretary for the Board of Trustees, which also made me a member of the executive board. I accepted and am proud to say that I am the third generation of the Turetsky Family to give service to Ahavas Israel in many capacities.

Giving service to our synagogue is an enjoyable way to become more involved in our congregation and meet new people.


Robin Turetsky

Ahavas Israel Board Member


What's A Mitzvah - Mort Hoffman

With the High Holidays just behind us, what better time is there to think of Mitzvahs?  There are many opportunities to perform a mitzvah in our area.  A good start would be joining the Corners of the Fieldgarden team. They supply vegetables to Temple Emanuel Food Banks well as the Baxter Center Food Pantry (where canned and paper goods are also always welcome.)  Another worthwhile cause is Meals on Wheels; they can always use volunteers.

There is no shortage of places to volunteer in Grand Rapids. Additional organizations that provide help and assistance to many Grand Rapidians include Habitat for Humanity, Family Promise, Michigan Home for Veterans, Gilda’s Club, God’s Kitchen, Kids’ Food Basket, and Women’s Resource Center. Ahavas Israel Members have been and still are involved in helping most of these organizations.  Don’t be afraid to join your fellow congregants and get involved.

If you want to stay closer to family and friends, then visit the young and old, help those who need help with grocery shopping, getting to doctor and/or dentist appointments, or just bring them a treat -- fruit, dinner, or a dessert.

If you would rather help them while staying in the comfort of your own home, instead of spending hours at different locations, then all you have to do is mail out a donation.  One good place to start would be Ahavas Israel for Operation Isaiah, which provides Thanksgiving baskets to needy families. Last year over 40 families received a Thanksgiving basket.  In addition, all the above organizations are certainly worthy recipients of any donations you would like to make.

So, what’s a Mitzvah?  My answer is that a mitzvah is a blessing to those who receive as well as those who give.

Mort Hoffman, Ahavas Israel Board Member    

What Does It Mean To Be A Jew - Ken Strauss

What does it mean to be a Jew? To believe in “The One”? To do God’s will? To observe and celebrate the 10 Commandments? To pass Torah from generation to generation, preserving our ancestors’ wisdom? To set an example that others may follow? To work for Justice, Peace and Tikkun Olam (repair the world)?

At many levels, being Jewish is a privilege. Although many Jews in the past paid a steep price for that privilege, our very survival as a people, as a culture of knowledge and wisdom, proves its worth and value to humankind — especially in light of the plethora of societies and cultures that have perished in the interim. We are privileged to have been given the Torah and Commandments that direct us on the straight path, the path toward Tikkun Olam. 

Even so, the ancient writings CLEARLY show that we are, as every other people, stiff-necked and stray from that path at every juncture. God has given us commandments and prophets to remind us of our duties to ourselves, our communities, and our world. Our stories tell of our strengths and of our weaknesses, show us great role models as well as their foibles and faults. What other compilation of a people’s history airs their dirty laundry as openly and liberally as ours? Our Jewish experience, our culture and folkways emphasize education and awareness. Repeating these stories of bygone days encourages T’shuvah (returning to the right path) so that we may be less inclined to repeat the errors from our people’s past in our own lives. 

Is this a perfect, all-wise system? Not by a long shot. As Winston Churchill remarked, “[this] is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried…” Nonetheless, we have been the leaders in rule-of-law and protection of individual rights. For example, our writings emphasize that we don’t take advantage of the vulnerable; we do right by the stranger in our midst, the widow, and the orphan. We humans are all children of God, gifted with intelligence and the free will to use it. Our Jewish heritage teaches us that how we use our gifts – intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual – makes a difference in the lives around us, ripples through space and time, positively affecting the world tomorrow and the world to come. 

So, what does it mean to be Jewish? To learn about our past, to emulate our role models, and to avoid our ancestors’ errors; to live and work for Justice in the present, to do deeds of loving-kindness; and to have faith that setting a good example moves our future, even if only infinitesimally small steps at a time, toward a just and peaceful world, built with our own hands this time. Hallelujah! 

Past President,

Ken Strauss

Ahavas Israel Board Member

President's Letter, September 2018

As most of you already know by now, I am the current President of Ahavas Israel. My term of office will run for two years. It is an honor to serve as your president; however, along with this honor comes quite a responsibility … one that includes making sure things get done and everything runs smoothly.  One can’t do it all; I can’t do it alone.  As the saying goes, it takes a village…. Ahavas Israel’s village is composed of our staff, board of trustees, and congregation members. 

Our staff includes Rabbi Krishef; office manager, Deb Johnston; and custodian, Tin Geiger. 

Board members are  — Ann Berman, Guy DeJager, Doug de Lange, Jack Finn, Cary Fleischer, Mort Hoffman, Mark ‘Moishe’ Jesin, Judy Joseph, Ed Miller, Diane Rayor, David Reifler, Leah Sauer, Kenneth Strauss, Lanny Thodey, Robin Turetsky, and Patricia Weller, and you are our congregation members. 

The key to success is communication.  I am hoping for a two-way communication between members of the board and members of the congregation. In order to help achieve this goal, every board member has been given a list of about five congregation members that they will be calling on a regular basis. This is your chance to communicate with us while we communicate with you. 

We would like to hear any questions, thoughts, concerns, requests, suggestions, or ideas that you may have for us.  This is your shul; we want you to make use of it by communicating, contributing, volunteering, and participating with us in any way you can. Step up and work with us on any of our committees, help plan programs and activities.  We would welcome your ideas, help, and participation.

Ahavas provides a wide range of religious, educational, and social activities for you. As we move forward this year, I hope it will be a successful year with participation, communication, and involvement from all of you to make it a valuable year for all of us.

As our High Holy days start, and we welcome in the New Year, 5779, remember that the board is here for you; I hope you will be here for us.  Let’s work together for a happy, healthy, successful, sweet year. We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at Shul.

Wishing you a very happy New Year

L’Shona Tovah Tikateyvu

Barbara Wepman, President

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