By Rabbi Dr Jeffrey M Cohen
14th May 2005
Once again it is my pleasure and privilege to offer a word of appreciation to our Wardens and Financial Representative who have completed their term, or terms, of office. Over the years we have been blessed in Stanmore to have lay leadership of the finest quality, both as regards the Gabaim, prominent on the Bimah, as well as regards our Financial Representatives, who, working behind the scenes, have to devote so much of their time and expertise, to the enormous responsibility of managing the financial affairs of such a large community. In our current team we have been especially blessed.
But an assessment of the success of H.E.ís is based not only on how successfully they have discharge their tasks, but also on their influence within the community. This can best be illustrated by the story of the Jewish couple who won the lottery. They immediately set out to begin a life of luxury. They bought a magnificent mansion in Knightsbridge and surrounded themselves with all the material wealth imaginable.
Then they decided to hire a butler. They found the perfect butler through an agency, very proper and very British, and brought him back to their home. The day after his arrival, he was instructed to set up the dining room table for four, as they were inviting the Cohens to lunch. The couple then left the house to do some shopping.
When they returned, they found the table set for eight. They asked the butler why eight, when they had specifically instructed him to set the table for four?
The butler replied, "The Cohens telephoned and said they were bringing the Blintzes and the Knishes."
Well itís the same with leadership. Especially shul leadership. Itís not just the quality of person who is the leader. Itís not even the style of your leadership. In the final analysis it is who you bring with you. Who identifies with what you are trying to do? Who feels at home in your company and deepens their attachment and loyalty to your organisation or your shul? Who volunteers to serve with you? And who steps forward to continue your good work when the time arrives for you to step down?
Viewed from this perspective, Leslie, David, Martin, Ruth and Russell, our Honorary Executive and FR, who complete their period or periods in office this week, have been exemplary leaders. They have devoted every spare moment of their free time, and even of their professional time, to the needs of the community. They have been accessible to me, as well as to our members, at all times. They have never sought praise or recognition for their efforts; they have shown my office the greatest respect and consideration, and indeed have fought a number of battles on my behalf to ensure that I did not have to work until I was 120. They have endeavoured at all times to take account of the needs, and satisfy the requests, of members. They have been totally involved with every event that the shul has organised, and, as I said, they have ensured that the shul is regarded as a organisation that it is a privilege to serve, thereby ensuring that we have men and women of talent and enthusiasm ready to receive their baton. That is the measure of leadership: whether you carry the Blintzes and the Knishes with you.
So I take this opportunity, on behalf of my colleagues, Rabbi Shaw and Chazan Dr Black, and I am sure that I speak for Brenda and the office staff, to thank them most sincerely for all they have done for the community, for their many sacrifices, and for giving us all the benefit of their wisdom and experience. We also thank their spouses,Vivienne, Sally, Phyllis, Morley and Michele, for their generosity of spirit in sharing them with the community, enabling them to give up their precious leisure time that otherwise would have been spent with them and their families.
Dear friends, it has been a pleasure and privilege to work with people like you all, people of such calibre and dedication, and I take this opportunity of thanking you, as well as the members of the out-going Board of Management, and the chairpersons and members of the Ladies Guild, SSCC, and all the other committees of the shul, for their loyal and devoted service.
May the Almighty bless you all, and your families, with good health, nachat and happiness, Víyishlach berachah víhatzlachah bíchol maíasei yedeichem, im kol yisrael akheichem, Vínomar Amen