August 31, 2012 - by Jerry Shulman
When Deb Turner asked me to speak at Shabbat Services on the topic "What Temple Emanu-El Means to Me", I of course said that I would. After giving some thought as to how I would approach this topic, I decided to begin with the journey that led us to Temple Emanu-El. This journey began for Micki, Sammy and myself about five years ago.
Micki and I came to Tucson to visit friends over 30 years ago. We fell in love at first sight and decided that this would be an ideal place to settle after retirement.
We soon bought a home in Tucson, which we used as a vacation getaway until we were ready to retire. Our plan was to someday become "snowbirds", sharing time between New York and Tucson.
After we both retired we soon discovered the truth of the statement, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." Micki and I were called upon to raise our 2 year old granddaughter, Samantha. Sammy was then and remains to this day our unexpected blessing.
When it became time for Sammy to enter 2nd Grade we realized that we needed to decide where she should be raised. It didn't take long to choose Tucson as our permanent home. We were pleased to discover that the school that Sammy would attend received a very high rating. Our next thought was where would we go to create a religious life for Sammy and ourselves.
As luck would have it, Micki read in the Jewish Press that the Tucson J.C.C. was hosting a Shalom Tucson event. She visited, and through that experience we chose to visit Temple Emanu-El. The very first time we visited Temple was to inquire about religious school for Sammy. We were greeted warmly and recognized the the passion for religious education that existed in this wonderful place. We knew immediately that we had found an exciting Jewish environment for our granddaughter.
We returned to New York to prepare for our move. Before long, we received a phone call from a member of our Temple. It was Yetta Dritch who called us in New York to welcome us and saying that she and her husband Norman, looked forward to meeting us in person and offered to help us settle into our newly adopted community.
It was then that we knew we had made the right decision. Not only did we find the right religious school, but we also found a warm and accepting Jewish Community here at Temple Emanu-El.
The first time we attended services, it was a Rock Shabbat. For Sammy it was awesome, for Micki and me it was a joyful religious experience. We have both attended many services over a span of time. We can truly say that Rabbi Cohon has raised the bar to a level few can duplicate.
During the past five years, our family has come to realize that one of our greatest joys is to give back to Temple, which in return enriches our lives with the gift of a loving and caring community.
We also swell with pride and shet nachas when we see our granddaughter, under the direction and guidance of Rabbi Cohon, Rabbi Holtz, our Cantorial Assistant Marjorie Hochberg and all her teachers at Kurn Religious School, truly become a daughter of Judaism and who will soon become a Bat Mitzvah.
Just this morning, as Samantha was getting ready to go to school, I asked her if she enjoyed going to Temple. Being the clever young lady that she is, and one who wants to please her grandfather, she replied that she absolutely did. I then asked her the great follow-up question; WHY? Her reply brought a smile to my face and a tug at my heart. She said and I quote, " Because at Temple I can share my religion with my friends."
That answer proves that we are doing something pretty wonderful at Temple Emanu-El.
Let us all share our religion with our friends in our Temple Community. Let's build on that spirit we find in our youngsters, by participating in the wide variety of activities offered by Temple Emanu-El from adult education to social action. Join the Men's Club and W.R.J. and participate in the social activities offered by these groups. Become more active in this outstanding Jewish Community!