|Eddie in the mid-90's working with temple youth.|
Our synagogue recently celebrated its 60th anniversary. It threw itself a big celebration. Unfortunately we could not attend because of family obligations. But we heard it was a great success and enjoyed by everyone. The recent synagogue newsletter arrived with a wonderful tribute to my husband in it written by Rabbi Marder, our Senior Rabbi. It talks about his leadership involvement back in the’90’s.
…Over the course of decades lay leaders have been intimately involved in educational innovation at Beth Am. And yes — they volunteer by the hundreds, serve on committees, lead our affiliates — Beth Am Women, Beth Am Men, BATY and BAJY — and if they’re especially dedicated and talented, they’re honored by being elected to the Board of Directors.
When I began my work at Beth Am, one of the first things I noticed was its distinctive leadership culture. Those chosen for high positions are intelligent, thoughtful and constructive in their approach.
Leaders treat one another — and professional staff — with respect and courtesy. Differences of opinion are freely shared, but in any discussion the focus is on what’s best for the congregation, not personal agendas. Our leaders tend to be modest rather than ego-driven. They take the work of temple governance seriously, but not somberly; the atmosphere at meetings is relaxed and leavened by humor. And our leaders are not afraid to try something new.
At our festive anniversary weekend, I had the pleasure of paying tribute to the people who most exemplify this positive culture of leadership: Beth Am’s 32 past presidents. Of the 20 still living in our area, all remain active in the congregation — a remarkable fact in itself. Within this outstanding group, there are two I want to single out in particular. Eddie Reynolds could not be at our anniversary dinner because of a family commitment on the East Coast, so I wasn’t able to present my personal tribute to him that night. But everyone who knows Eddie appreciates his very special qualities. Tall, lanky, effervescent and positive-spirited, Eddie exudes enthusiasm. He’s especially passionate about theater; he and his husband, Ed, see more than 80 shows a year and Eddie reviews them on his blog, Theatre Eddys.
Partnering with Rabbi Block, Eddie provided expert leadership during the early 1990s, when Beth Am helped pioneer the Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE), an HUC-JIR project designed to employ learning as a path to synagogue transformation. Eddie’s role as an organizational development consultant made him especially fit for the presidency at this critical time, and he facilitated many a retreat and board discussion, guiding a diverse group to fruitful creative endeavors — including Beth Am’s nationally-known family education program, Shabbaton. Over the years he’s continued to share his talents with our congregation. He’s a loving dad, a loyal friend and a man who lives by his deeply-held values…
Beth Chayim Chadashim was founded in 1972 as the world's first lesbian and gay synagogue recognized by the Reform Jewish community. In addition it was also the first gay religious organization of any kind to be officially recognized by a major American religious denomination.