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New President's Address

29/06/2016 10:10:30 AM


Good evening everyone,

I am standing here tonight because of my broken foot! When the search committee asked for a new president, everyone turned and ran …. and I, was the only one left standing!

So my advice to all of you is don’t play soccer with your grandchildren in running shoes, because you may then land up being the president of the shul!

I want to first thank all of you for giving of your time to be here tonight. You are dedicated to the shul and I appreciate you for this, as well as for all the work that you do to make Darchei Noam such a special space for all of us. I also would like to highlight the role Rabbi Tina plays in making the shul so welcoming for all, and also for her leadership, deep commitment to the community, and love of Judaism.

I appreciate the outgoing board, chairs of the committees and all of our volunteers for your work. I especially would like to thank Liane for her leadership, dedication, and love for Darchei Noam. Liane is deeply committed, hardworking, smart, personable and a mensch. Liane, thanks for all of your support so far. I am honoured to walk in your footsteps.

Tonight, like previous presidents, I stand in front of you being held aloft on the shoulders of these giants. Each one of them has added to the richness of our tapestry, and I would also like to recognize them for their contributions to our shul.

Thank you.

I am mindful of the lateness of the hour, and so I will be brief in my comments.

Like all of you, I chose to be a member of this congregation. It took Gwen and I a few years of searching to find the kind of shul where our Jewish and personal values could align with those of the congregation. When we found Darchei Noam we knew immediately that we had finally found our spiritual home. We liked how the love of tradition is integrated with change, and how the community leads the service. We strongly identified with the values of inclusiveness, diversity, egalitarianism and Tikkun Olam.

From an early age I was a very active member of Habonim, a Labour Zionist Youth Movement where I learned about Israel, Jewish History, and the struggle for freedom by oppressed people. I grew up in apartheid South Africa where racism was systemic and systematically applied throughout the country. My opposition to the injustice and oppression of people of colour in South Africa moulded my core values, as I strongly believe in pluralism, tolerance, social justice and equality for all. For me, Reconstructionist Judaism reflects these values.

When I joined Darchei Noam, I became active in our Shomrei Adamah committee. Then a few years later I joined the Social Justice committee, and for the last three years chaired this committee. Shortly after joining the shul, I served on the board under Myer and Lisa’s fine leadership. And now I am standing before you humbled and asking for your support, help and guidance, as I embark on a new journey. Thank you for this opportunity.

My leadership style is based on my personal values that guide my decisions. I am deeply committed to teamwork, collaboration, active listening and mutual respect. I am inherently an optimistic person and assume others have positive intentions. I like to build relationships and work hard to maintain them. I also like to lead by example and try to “walk the talk”.

Tonight we have heard that there is much that we all need to do in order for Darchei Noam to continue to flourish. We have work to do as a community, especially with regard to our financial position, and also in retaining and growing our current membership. All three are integral to our future.

I am committed to working with the incoming board, and the various committees, and look forward to collaborating with you during the next two years to achieve our collective goals, and to realize our mission and values.

Once again thank you, for coming tonight. Please stay a while longer to enjoy a reception sponsored by the 2015-16 Executive Committee to thank the Board and all of our committee volunteers for your extraordinary work this year.

I hope you enjoy the rest of the evening.Update this content.

Ryan Friedman, June 24, 2016

Tue, 3 August 2021 25 Av 5781