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President's Message

Scot Ackerman M.D.


I tend to be one who looks forward to and embrace change, but as we enter 5782, I was hoping we would be going back to what used to be more of “the usual,” especially gathering in person, without the need for masks or social distancing. Regardless of how our future gatherings look, I do know we remain a strong Orthodox community, whether praying together inside, outside, social distanced or dawning masks. We may not all be standing physically together yet, but we remain close and committed together as our Etz Chaim family. 

Our Covid Task force, made up of medical professionals, community leaders and Rabbis, continues to meet weekly to access and implement any changes needed to keep everyone in our building safe. From the beginning, we have made all our decisions based on two values. First, a commitment to public health and second, tefillah, our communal prayer. 

Sometimes one value overrides the other, but commitment to these values has allowed us to keep the shul open from June 2020 to today. Even with a resurgent of COVID-19 and going back to wearing masks, our decisions continue to evolve and be fluid. While guided by values, some decisions result in more technical outcomes, such as protective barriers, blocking off seats and erecting tents to allow for more congregants to safely join us in prayer. 

While we only hold in-person services, we do the best we can with virtual programming. Rabbis have become YouTubers and podcasters, providing our community with an entirely new dimension for learning. Our youth programs continue their strong presence, with weekly teen programs and a successful summer camp. You may not be spending time in our building as you have in the past, but we are here, we are open and committed to support of our congregants and the legacy of Etz Chaim. But we also need your commitment.  

This year we are starting a Donor Society to give everyone the opportunity to be partners in a worthwhile endeavor, providing much-needed funds to the shul. More details will follow, but there will be different tiers of giving, each including membership. Each of you will be able to give at the level you are able. I believe our responsibility to Etz Chaim is no less than the families who founded it.

As always, it has been a privilege to serve as your congregational president. As many of you know, I have stayed in my role a bit past the usual 2-year presidential term. With much reflection, I have decided to step down in February 2022, but will remain closely involved in the transition process. I am so proud to have served as President and look forward to continuing to be part of such a warm, welcoming and inclusive kehilla, one that honors and cherishes our past and continues to embrace the future.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and everyone at Etz Chaim Synagogue, we wish you a meaningful and safe New Year.

L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu,
Scot Ackerman, M.D. President

Tue, August 16 2022 19 Av 5782